"Do you want an exciting career in the field of medical transcriptioning?"
"Do you want to be on the cutting edge of criminal justice?"
"How about an exciting career in travel and hospitality?"
"Then School XYZ is the school for you!"
"Earn your degree in just 16 months and you'll be on your way to a better you!"
This is the typical commercial for the typical 2 year college you will see during daytime TV. And the reason you see it during day time TV is because the target audience is not you nor me, but basically the welfare bum deadbeats who don't have a job and are looking for a way out of their miserable lives.
Now understand we are smart enough to know such a thing sounds like a scam. But to the average deadbeat watching her soaps or the typical loser turning off the video games long enough to watch TV instead so he can eat, this actually sounds like a feasible opportunity and thus 2 year colleges are born.
But allow me to tell you a couple stories about my days teaching at some of these institutions of "higher learning" so that;
1. You know never to go there.
2. You can tell some of your less fortunate friends never to go there
3. These schools may go bankrupt.
So pour yourself a martini, find a comfy chair, kick back and relax as I regale you with my tales of teaching in 2 year colleges.
I first started teaching at this "business" school where the "campus" was a rented out, brown, 1970's style office building located in the inner suburbs of St. Paul/Minneapolis. The school didn't even rent out the entire building, but let that be a lesson to you kids, highly ranked schools lease out their HQ in suburbanite strip malls.
I intuitively knew this wasn't going to be Harvard, but it was a nice part time job and I got to teach my passion; economics - so I didn't much care.
However troubles immediately started to occur.
The first sign of trouble came when I issued the first quiz, of which 85% of the students failed. It wasn't an issue of the quiz being difficult or hard. It wasn't an issue of me being a mean teacher. The quiz was of an average difficulty and any student paying attention would have passed it. However, upon grading the quizzes I realized just what a low caliber of students I was dealing with and made the egregious error of deciding not to LOWER the standards to them, but to have them RISE to my standards and thereby teach them something.
Complaints flooded into my boss about the test being too difficult, they didn't have enough time to study, "by god I have two children and can't study this much" etc. etc. And sure enough, at the age of 27, I was called into the office.
My boss explained to me that we are here to challenge the students, but not too much. That my test was unfair and I should consider tailoring it more to their skill level. Of course with hindsight I now see what the charlatan of a dean was telling me; "Dumb it down because we're fleecing these kids for their money for a worthless degree and if you rock the boat we'll lose some of them." But he couldn't come outright and say that, ergo why he was feeding me a line of bull.
The next quiz I dumbed down, and this time a whopping 30% of the students passed. Naturally there was the same cacophony of complaints which resulted me landing in the dean's office once again. This process continued until I had more or less realized that not only were the students dead set against learning or trying to feign some semblance of being a scholar as well as the complete lack of back up from management to hold some level of standards to these kids. And so, choosing the path of least resistance, I decided I would not only make the quizzes and tests insanely easier, but skew the grading curve so greatly it would put affirmative action to shame.
To avoid any more criticism that I didn't test the students on what we studied I made them make their own "study guide" for the tests. This consistent of each student writing a multiple choice question on a piece of paper, me taking all those questions and photocopying them into a guide for each student. We would review the questions and the correct answers, and then I would take the EXACT SAME PHOTOCOPIED questions, photocopy them again, insert 4-5 questions of my own and then give it back to the students as the official test.
Even then, with no more than 4-5 question of my own to give those who deserved an A and A, I would still get students to flunk the test. So idiotic and genuinely stupid, or perhaps galactically lazy, were these students, they couldn't pass a test where they had the answers the day before.
Regardless, the majority of the students did pass, but with less than 40% of them earning A's.
Of course the concept of "earning" A's was a joke. Only 2-3 students per class really "earned" an A. But the grading curve was so skewed (at the request of the dean to make sure everybody passed) that the math more or less bumped people who would have really earned a C into the A+ category.
This behooved on my part true pity for the few students I did have that did indeed earn A's. They would study hard and effectively waste their time because all they would have to do is the bare minimum to pass and still get an A.
However, insisting on some kind of level of integrity, if I had to bump some degenerate loser's 12% score to the 70% necessary to pass, then I would bump everybody's score up by 58%. Not to mention the never ending requests from students to do some kind of "extra credit" to pass, I would have to present the same opportunity to every student, of which of course the straight A students would avail themselves of and earn even more unnecessary points. This resulted in some very interesting final scores.
Of the possible 100 points you could have earned in the class the top student had a final score of 170.
She had busted he ass off to earn nearly twice the amount of points she needed simply because that was the work/study ethic she had. The runner up had 150%. I insisted that neither of them study much for the next class I taught which was statistics and instead enjoy their next semester.
Tests and quizzes were just one problem I ran into in the schools. The second one was papers.
Foolish and idealistic, I thought it would be a great idea to have the students write an economics report on a country of their choosing to test their economic and analytical ability. Each student was to pick a country of their choosing and then write a FIVE PAGE DOUBLE SPACED PAPER on that country. This was no Herculean task. Matter of fact, I think I've already written more in this post in the past 10 minutes. Regardless, the hellish bitching and moaning and complaining did not stop.
"I don't have a computer."
"I don't have a printer."
"I don't have access to either."
"Why does it have to be 5 pages?"
"What's the font size."
More effort bitching and whining went into fighting against the paper than actually writing the effing thing.
With much ballyhoo and BS, inevitably I did get them into the computer lab and as the deadline approached, the vast majority of my students were frantically writing as they had procrastinated to that very last day.
Truthfully though, the majority of them did get their papers in on time and with them in hand began a painful task I was completely unaware of.
The first paper I read was on South Korea. The student had written:
"South Korea's economy is a modern industrialized nation, diversified into manufacturing, technology and services. It paradoxically compares..."
And right there I knew something was up.
So well written was that first sentence, I knew there was no way my student could have written it.
Sure enough I went to the Google and found he had just copied and pasted the report from the CIA's World Factbook.
The next paper was on Finland;
"Finland's economy is a mixed free market/socialist economy with the government providing its populace with ..."
Already, too well written. Google. CIA World Fact Book. Plagiarized.
I continued to google search various phrases and sentences that seemed too well crafted for the ability of my students and found out that out of 92 students, 89 had plagiarized.
The next day I ripped into them. I lectured them about how plagiarism was completely unacceptable, they would all get F's and blah blah blah, they weren't listening. And sure enough I got called into the principle's office.
The "dean" then lectured me about how I was overly harsh on the students and that they "didn't know" they weren't supposed to plagiarize. He then went on to read complaints he took in a survey from my students about my performance, one of which was a complaint about this ever so slight speech impediment I have (I cough due to allergies more frequently than the average person). I was to also let all the students write a new paper. I was dumbfounded.
I was to apologize to these students for their plagiarism. Only in a 2 year degree mill.
It was here that I realized that if I was going to keep my job I was just going to have to play ball and pass these kids no matter what. But the trick was to show them still who was boss because by this time they thought they owned me and had won. Never mind their degree would be worthless. Never mind with that kind of attitude they would get fired in half a second. In their little minds they "won" and now life was just going to bend over for them, if not the dean would always be able to save them and would bend life over for them.
But I would get my revenge. For the next class in the next semester was statistics.
Now you must understand that at this school there were multiple "majors" and they would keep the majors together so as to breed comradery. The majors were computer science, accounting, "travel and hospitality," and "health care." Naturally, the computer science and accounting students had a high mathematical aptitude and therefore would not only do better, but advance through the class faster. Therefore after 4 weeks they were already twice as far as their "travel and hospitality" counterparts.
Thinking there was nothing wrong and learning to make the class insanely easy, I thought there were going to be no more complaints. And sure enough there was;
The computer science and accounting students were complaining because they had done twice the work in the same amount of time. The dean then said I can't teach two different classes and they must be standardized across all majors.
This presented a problem to me in that there was no way in hell the travel and hospitality majors would ever be able to accomplish what the other students were doing. Thus I had to slow them down while travel and hospitality caught up. Thus, one of my greatest creations ever;
The Halo Statistics Project.
To grant the travel and hospitality majors enough time to get their fat, imbecilic lazy asses enough time to catch up, I decided that the accounting and computer programming majors would conduct a statistical experiment playing Halo. We linked 4 X-Boxes together, each person (including yours truly) would have a statistics sheet, and as we played various games we would record various statistics;
# of deaths
# of kills
# of assists
This would then give us enough empirical data to have a field day with to calculate things such as standard deviation, mean kill and calculate very important things such as;
"If you have 18 deaths in Halo, what percentile are you in, in the sub game "Slayer Pro?"
"What is the correlation coefficient between assists and the use of a bazooka."
For the next two weeks we played Halo while the rest of the students caught up.
Naturally, of course there were complaints. The travel and hospitality majors found out the other students were playing Halo. And when asked why they couldn't play Halo, I said, "well you're two weeks behind the other students so I have to find a way for you to catch up and this way we will have empirical data to use in future projects and experiments."
It did not go over well. By this time my repoire with the students had deteriorated so much there was nothing I could do. Teacher's cars were getting keyed, I was regularly called names and insulted by students. It was a "college" but it was more like teaching in a ghetto high school. The students were completely unaware of any possibility it was their fault they were failing or were so inconceivably stupid other students had to resort to "Halo Statistics" for them to play catch up.
Of course, by this time, I had given up on any kind of desire to teach these kids. I made it possible for those who wanted to learn, to learn, but instead of treating my job as an educator, I treated it as a baby sitter. And fresh in my mind the complaints filed about me being a idiot and a jerk and having that "stupid cough thing" as well as being forced by the dean to apologize to these daytime-tv-watching morons, I had one final trick up my sleeve.
The students by this time knew enough about simple statistics that the concepts of the bell distribution curve and how standard deviation can estimate what percent of the population you rank in were within their ability to calculate. But, since I was a concerned teacher, the question was "what kind of calculation can we do or test to make this personal and interesting to my beloved students?" And then it hit me;
There was a web site, where if you had the time, you could take a rather thorough IQ test and get your IQ. It wasn't official or anything, but it would serve the purposes of my little statistics experiment. The students would go online, take their IQ test and then calculate what percent of the population they ranked in, in terms of their IQ.
The students were all excited about it. Of course they were the smartest students in the world and the world and meanies like me were just out to get them. They were almost supremely confident they would score high and no doubt some of them were tentatively planning on showing me their IQ to "show me."
So off they went to the computer lab, 45 minutes they came back with their score and I then showed them the method using a mean of 100 to find out what percent of the population they ranked in.
And as more and more of them looked up their percentile on the little percentile sheets their shoulders slouched. Their faces shocked. The travel and hospitality majors, you could tell, were double checking their math because they couldn't believe they were that stupid. Many faced the paradox of having to ask me to help them because on one hand they couldn't believe they scored that low, but they didn't want me to see their IQ (which I insisted be kept confidential). One girl started crying and another student who never shut up and found it a vital necessity to constantly talk in class, actually shut up. We found one student was "officially" retarded (though he wasn't, he just didn't try) while another was ecstatic to find out she was in the top 30%, until I pointed out she subtracted wrong when calculating her standard deviation and she was in fact in the bottom 30%. The class was somber, silent and depressed. Oh sure, there were the genuine straight A students who were happy and arguably finally vindicated that they were smart, arguably MENSA material, but the rest of them got a harsh delivering blow from the real world. There was their real grading curve.
In the end I went on to teach at another 2 year college, this time with the wisdom knowing not to try to teach the kids anything, but to entertain them. Pass them along, give them their B- and everybody's happy. And it is here that the lesson of degree mills and junior college must be learned.
There is no point in going to these schools unless they are accredited and you are intending on moving on to get your 4 year degree. Many states and local governments have 2 year colleges and they're great. They are typically part of the state university system, they are accredited and they are a VITAL AND GREAT opportunity to those who may not have the means to afford a 4 year college or perhaps was just goofing off during high school and now realized the merits of education. However, there are other 2 year "institutions" out there that are nothing more than degree mills. Non-accredited, typically private companies that are just that; companies.
They don't care if you get a good education. They're not really there to help you. And they certainly do not care if you get a job or not.
They're just there to take your money.