Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Our Higher Educational System is Broken and Dysfunctional

My awesome daughter, young Galadriel Tanqueray Onassis, graduated from high school this year.

All of her friends will be going off to college this fall. But she won't.

Part of it is my fault. I suck as a parent. I didn't start a College Fund for her as soon as she was conceived and pump steady, regular contributions into it for the last 18 years. I should have, but I didn't.

But it wouldn't have mattered if I had. Personal savings can't cover the cost of college. At least not for a payday-to-payday working stiff like me. Even if I had been a Good Parent we would still needed grants, loans and scholarships to pay for a good school.

There was a time when Higher Education for all Americans was considered to be such an economic and national security priority that there were tons of Federal Grants and interest free loans available to anyone who wanted to go to college.

The Republicans fucking HATED that because it meant poor and middle class working people who tend to vote for Democrats could become the educated, socioeconomic equals of their ignorant, spoiled, Trust Fund brats.

So the Republicans started getting rid of Federal money for higher education and reducing Federal subsidies at the State level.

Without Federal subsidies, States had to reduce the money they made available for local grants and loans.

In return, private colleges and public universities had to raise tuition rates to make up for the lost State and Federal revenue.

To fill the financial gap between the reduced tax payer subsidies and the higher college tuition rates, private companies stepped in to provide student loans for profit. The end result is that the average student graduating from a 4 year college degree program will be shouldering anywhere between $25,000 to $60,000 in private student loan debt with no jobs available.

I don't see how this is giving these students a head start in life and putting them on a financially viable path. Just the opposite.

GTO explored what I thought was a much more practical alternative. She found a Career College, what we used to call a Vocational School, who offered a Dental Assistant program. Total tuition was $15,000 (less than what you would pay for 1 semester at a 4 year college) for an 8 month course that covered EVERYTHING from classes, to scrubs, to materials, to text books, to parking. The only the thing it didn't cover was the OSHA Mandated shoes. It even included an apprenticeship with a dentist and a job placement program. Sounded like a pretty solid alternative to a 4 year college program! We were pumped! 

But my BFF strongly suggested that we ask some ACTUAL DENTISTS what THEY require of newly hired Dental Assistants before spending that kind of money. Apparently she could have saved about $30,000 in student loans to become a Paralegal if she had done the due diligence she was recommending. Good advice!

So GTO sent out a shotgun blast of emails to every dentist in the Blue Springs/Independence and asked "Training/No Training? What's your preference?" Every single one of them said "Don't waste $15,000.00. We can train you."

She had an interview with one of those Dentists tonight and she starts training/work in September.

By the time her friends graduate college buried in debt with no work experience and no job prospects, she will have 4-5 years work experience as a Dental Assistant, be well trained, debt free, and can pursue what ever educational or career path she chooses on a pay as you go basis.

Sometimes, the path less planned leads to the greater reward.


Joe said...

I think dental assisting is a good line of work for a gal just coming out of high school. I have long term assistants at my dentist's office, he must pay enough to keep quality help. My soon to be ex wife went to xray school in her early 30's and she makes over three times the income I do in a Union job. It is a two year JC program, at least it is in California. I'm glad to see GTO getting a trade and not farting around.

Mike Ekey said...

Just be careful down the line and make sure the in-office training is something she can transfer to other offices or into promotions. I knew a lot of guys who skipped college and went right into a tech/computer related job. 10-15 years down the line, they started getting passed over for jobs because (although they had the experience) they lacked the degree.

At the end of the day, it is all up to employers. In the past, employers wanted degrees. When the economy tanked and all these degree-holding people lost their job, it became kind of apparent that those degrees lost some value in the eyes of some employers.

I Travel for JOOLS said...

Of course you would blame this on Republicans. We could debate this for a long time but I just don't care to do that right now except to say there is no such thing as a free lunch these days unless you are on welfare and that's apparently where we are all headed with the Democrats in charge.

That aside, it's nice to see your daughter got a job at all considering the economy. Dentists are the #2 highest paid profession, second only to Physicians. I hope they pay her half way decent wages considering their own wealth.

I am all for trade schools in general and I wish the Jr. Colleges would offer more of these technical degree programs. 4 year liberal arts schools are going to become extinct unless they start actually teaching students how to make money vs how to hate conservatives.

Noble Rot said...

Sounds like a solid plan. Personally, I wouldn't want to have my hands in peoples' mouths all day, but that's just one of my foibles.

Actually, I was just remarking to my Supermodel Wife the other day that I should have been an optometrist. Talk about an easy job…

sean said...

I Travel-- the purpose of college was never originally about finding better ways to hustle for money-- it was to help young people learn the proper philosophy of life and to expand their minds. There's more to life than grubbing for every last goddamned dollar.

Poodles said...

Yay for her!

mark smith said...

you had me for a about one paragraph XO, then you started blaming the evil republicans. Maybe the cost of education has increased because of teachers unions and caddy pension and insurance plans, tenure, free rides for those lacking the desire to actually take full advantage of the skin tone scholarship. So the less deserving often got the free ride while the working class kid got the shaft. Maybe everyone shares a little of the blame, starting with the guy who admits he should have started saving years ago. One thing is certain , blaming all of the worlds collective woes on a party that you and others consider intellectual midgets makes you and them sound mildly retarded.

Xavier Onassis said...

Mark Smith - I always love hearing from you!

"Maybe the cost of education has increased because of teachers unions..."

Yes. Because teachers make SO MUCH MONEY!!! THOSE RICH BASTARDS! Fucking teachers! Lording it over the all of the hard working doctors and lawyers with their FAT TEACHER PAYCHECKS!

"...and caddy pension and insurance plans..."

Yeah. If I could only quit being a Systems Analyst for a major financial institution, go back to school and become a grade school reading teacher I would really have it made!

"... tenure..." Only available to a select few instructors in a dwindling number of schools. Which is a shame. Because tenure insulates college and university instructors from angry parents, petty alumni, political hacks and other ignorant jack-wagons who want to dictate what can and cannot be taught.

"...free rides for those lacking the desire to actually take full advantage of the skin tone scholarship. So the less deserving often got the free ride while the working class kid got the shaft."

Aaaanndd there's the racist push. The fear that po black folk are getting a leg up over the lazy trust fund crowd.

I certainly fucking hope so.

"Maybe everyone shares a little of the blame, starting with the guy who admits he should have started saving years ago."

Point taken. Sharply and deeply. I think about it every day and it keeps me awake every night.

But when you live paycheck to paycheck with no extra anything, trying to save for a child's college and/or your own retirement isn't really an option.

"...blaming all of the worlds collective woes on a party that you and others consider intellectual midgets makes you and them sound mildly retarded."

Calling them "intellectual midgets" are your words, not mine.

I would say intellectual krill, or intellectual amoeba's.

And they lower the Stupid Bar every fucking year.

The Conservatives seem to be in a competitive race with the Evangelicals.

The Evangelicals don't give a flying fuck about anything happening on, in or with the planet because Angry Jeebus is Coming Soon to rescue their delusional asses.

Conservatives idea of Utopia seems to be Mike Judge's "Idiocracy" where everyone is so incredibly fucking stupid that anyone with a pulse can become president and "book smarts" are highly suspicious.

OK, I've had enough fun. Time for bed.

Good to hear from you Mark! Hope all is well with you. Don't be such a stranger.