Student Loan Debt: Time for Change

Posted: May 15, 2012 in Politics, Society

Student loan debt is at the $1 trillion dollar mark according to the NY Times and one of the long-term drags on the US economy. Flushed with taxpayer dollars, colleges have been increasing tuition across the board, putting students so deeply into debt that many of them are having to put off buying a car, a home, and saving for retirement.

College-at-any-cost is creating a generation of people with sometimes fancy and often useless college degrees that have little demand in the current job market. At the same time, companies are pressuring Congress and the Obama administration to loosen visa requirements for overseas professionals to fill jobs that Americans are not able to fulfill.

The solution is simple: the university system, which has remain unchanged since the Sorbonne in the 13th century, has to change. Degrees need to be rated (and paid for) according to their current market value. Computer science and medicine are worth more than sociology and journalism.

The delivery of educational content needs to change too. Drawing upon the Sorbonne example, information once had to be delivered in person to ensure that students could ask questions and that schools could reach their student population.

With current and future technology, there is less need for dormitories or for schools to require physical attendance in classes. That need does exist as education goes from the generalist BA level to a MA or research-style program. And for pre-med and similar programs that require lab work, some of that university tradition makes sense.

Don’t get me started on university sports programs. They are a multi-billion dollar waste of time, designed to satisfy alumni and the school’s financial bottom line. They are a far cry from the amateur sports programs predicated upon the ancient Greek principle of training the mind and the body

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