Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Spoiled American College Students

From a reader in the field:

Dear Aaron,

     I agree with you about the college cost bubble.  IIRC, we both graduated in three years of cheap in-state tuition.  

     But you seem to be missing the demand side.  Students want luxury dorms. I remember when we had phones in the hall that only called campus numbers. Students want trips abroad.  They want the five-year college experience with easy majors.  And they want athletics.

Much of the inflation comes from administrative salaries, including fundraising and all these new customized extras.  I guess students are rich and lazy.  Seriously, in 1960, students attended class around 15 hours per week and studied around 25.  Now they study (or do homework) around 12 hours.  It's like high school or an executive education conference where you just show up and get baby-sat/entertained.

Enjoy your trip out west.

Agent in the Field #47


Don Roberto said...

Students are rich and lazy. Many rich kids just go to university to be kept out of trouble for three years before working for daddy's company.

A great example of the change in attitudes is many students now have no concept of rooms without ensuite bathrooms - people were shocked that I had to walk down the hall to drop off the kids when I was at university, and I'm only 25!

In Britain, some of the increasing cost is that cheaper university accomodation with shared bathrooms is demolished and redeveloped by outside 'accomodation providers' (read: property developers)into 'luxury' grade student accomodation, something more akin to a hotel room than a dorm room.

And, not to self-promote, but I wrote a little piece about university yesterday on the blog ( there are some links in it to other relevant stories about this

Monroe Ficus said...

Those "study abroad" are the worst. My cousin, chose English Lit as a major. I don't know where she got the money, but she's spending the year in Leeds, England. That's the funny thing; they're all at second tier colleges in third tier cities. Towns in Holland no one outside of the EU has ever heard of.

Tom the Impaler said...

Seriously colleges haven't cared about academics since I graduated HS in 1986. How do I know? I went to Booker t Washington HS in Tulsa. It was famous for it's advanced placement courses in academic studies. At the end of the year they had a presentation where the students were applauded for the scholarships they were awarded. For the honors students it was typically a $400 Jewish mother's book scholarship or somesuch. Sample conversation: "Whee! I've been accepted to Harvard! Too bad I'm about $80,000 short" The semi literate jocks got $40,000 full rides at the major universities. The U's have graduated people who couldn't fucking READ as long as they could pass and catch! Fuck the universities

Tom the Impaler said...

Oops, sorry, that was a basketball not football.

Anonymous said...

I don't study at all. My college professors (grad students) give fill-in-the-blank notes.

The hardest part of school for me has been staying interested. In high school they go on and on about how college is going to be a real wake up call for us, but I can't say I've learned a damn thing here, and it's certainly been easier.

Higher education is a sham.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to believe that engineering and the sciences have stayed at a relatively stable level. However a lot of students can now get calculators that can solve complex matrices and laplace transform problems without knowing anything more than punching in a few buttons.

DrTorch said...

The demand side exists, no doubt. It's still part of the bubble. In fact, demand is a necessary piece of the bubble, so this is really just a restatement.

This is more evidence that currently, college is living high and ignoring the bills that will come due. I saw this in college in the mid-80s, although it has certainly escalated since then.

What hurts is the frugal guy who wants to have a good ROI from college. He's still required to pay his share of the extravagance used by others. In fact all adults are doing this with their taxes, which is why it's such an abomination.

So kudos to the Captain and others who are helping the sensible ones to find better paths than the standard route of "go to college, get a job" that is now largely a myth, but still pushed by the education industry.

Anonymous said...

Not here in Germany, we still believe in rigorous old fashioned learning. Often a calculator is forbidden or not necessary, because the solution cannot be found on a common calculator.

Perhaps that's the reason why we ridicule most engineering bachelors around the world ;-)

Tony Tsquared said...

Back when I graduated college I had a job lined up a quarter before I graduated in the high tech field of computer science - cutting edge stuff in the 80's. My son graduates in 6 weeks with a logistics degree he is struggling for interviews - his education (knowledge level) is about where I was when I graduated high school back in 79. My father graduated High School and could speak Latin fluently and some French and told me when I was a rising Junior in college I was where he was when he graduated high school.

My point is that I believe that each generation is less educated than the one before it. It may be the times, dumbing down of what they teach, or diminished mental capacity of the new generation - I don't know the answer but I see the trend.

denis miller said...

back in engineering school 40 years ago we had 35 plus hours of classes per week. dorms were two to a room and our big trips were to the liquor store. and we still had to study as well, they recommended 2 hours of study per class hour minimum. I talked to a current bird course student and he only has 18 hours of classes a week. and they wonder why tech students look down on them!