Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Links for 12/16/09

James Joyner
I taught some online graduate courses, aimed mostly at overseas military officers… Trying to treat it as if it were a legitimate graduate class was a constant source of frustration. Students simply didn’t have the time to do the reading and research — they were, after all, on active duty in a military with a high operations tempo. But they’d been led to believe that the courses would be easy — there wouldn’t be much work and they could do it at their leisure. The school got a lot of money, paid its faculty quite generously, and the students got the credentials they wanted…

But the military is as much at fault here as the degree mills. They quite literally treat college education as a check in a box. A master’s degree from Harvard or one from Walden both get officers over the “must have master’s degree” hurdle for promotion to lieutenant colonel. And, since few officers are given the time to attend classes at a real school, the incentive to get a dubious degree in the little spare time available is powerful. The same is true, to a somewhat lesser extent, in the federal civil service and for teachers in many school systems across the country: It’s the degree that matters, not the learning…

To the extent that the skills imparted by higher education are valuable to an employer, they should be apparent in actual job performance. So just reward people who do their jobs well and don’t worry about what degrees they have.
Jennie Woo via SLA
In a previous life, I worked at the second largest loan guarantee agency, and studied default behavior. In my estimation the amount borrowed is overrated as a cause for defaults… the relationship was negative! The larger the loan amount the less likely to default. Here's why: Most defaults happen at 2-year schools where borrowing levels are lower, programs are shorter. Many defaults happen to students who drop out, who therefore borrow less than those who finish or go on to graduate school…

Default rates had been so low that only the unusual and troubled cases made it into collections. Now vast numbers of middle-class, mature, responsible borrowers are struggling and the usual patterns are moot…
Erin Dillon
At 400 colleges, students have better odds of defaulting on their student loans than they do of graduating.
ERIC FERRERI HT: Kris Amundson
Ilgunas, 26, is shacking up in a 1994 Ford Econoline as a means of getting through his liberal studies graduate program without debt. Parked in a lot on the edge of campus, he cooks with camping equipment and subsists largely on peanut butter.

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