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Bloat in American Universities-Economist Article
Old 09-14-2010, 12:18 AM   #1
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Bloat in American Universities-Economist Article

"As costs soar, diligence is tumbling. In 1961 full-time students in four-year colleges spent 24 hours a week studying; that has fallen to 14, estimates the AEI. Drop-out and deferment rates are also hair-curling: only 40% of students graduate in four years."
Schumpeter: Declining by degree | The Economist

This is one of my favortite topics- the absurdity of parents and students going into very heavy debt for something that has no very clear relationship to earning money, that is often supplied in slapdash manner and with zero customer service but maximum arrogance. Is there no limit to the gullibility of the American public?

About the 1961 sudy hours vs. today's, I was in college in 1961 and I studied on average 30 hours a week, not including labs.

If I had a kid who was spending my money to go to university and he only spent 16 hours a week studying I would think it was time for him to move on to the real world, and maybe come back later with a better attitude.
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Old 09-14-2010, 12:35 AM   #2
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Is there no limit to the gullibility of the American public?
What would PT Barnum tell you?
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Old 09-14-2010, 01:09 AM   #3
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Looks like student loan debt is becoming a bigger problem than credit card debt:
Student-Loan Debt Surpasses Credit Cards - Real Time Economics - WSJ
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Old 09-14-2010, 01:15 AM   #4
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If I had a kid who was spending my money to go to university and he only spent 16 hours a week studying I would think it was time for him to move on to the real world, and maybe come back later with a better attitude.
Does the 16 hours studying include in class or just out of class?

Personally I guess I would look more at results. FWIW way back when I was in college I picked classes that had no attendance requirements and didn't attend class if the professor was boring or just regurgitated teh book. Some courses I went to every class. Others I just went to the exams after I had assessed the course.

For my own kids, I encourage them to attend class. However, if they can make good grades with studying 10 hours a week (or whatever) then I don't see the point of requiring more study. Of course if they can't then I won't be paying for it for very long.
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Old 09-14-2010, 05:19 AM   #5
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I believe there are a number of causes...

  1. Boomer parents with little financial sense
  2. Middle-class Boomer parents spoiling their kids and trying to make it easy for them... sometimes pushed by peer pressure (general expectations) and their kids demands.
The low number of study hours is a reflection of the lack of drive and self-discipline (on average) and sense of entitlement "I don't need to try very hard to succeed... things always work out for me".

This has created a real challenge for businesses.

This is why we import certain types of talent from foreign countries... fewer and fewer have the drive and self-discipline to learn difficult subject matter.
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Old 09-14-2010, 07:52 AM   #6
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Ha, you really remember (accurately) how many hours a week you studied in college? I sure don't.

"Drop-out and deferment rates are also hair-curling: only 40% of students graduate in four years."

That's a bit misleading. The overall gradation rate is up considerably since 1961, so you've got a LOT more people enrolled. Not surprising that when you dip deeper into the pool there are a higher % not able to graduate in 4 years. Add that financial cost and you may have more working their way through school, having to take a lighter load or semesters off to afford it.
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Old 09-14-2010, 08:31 AM   #7
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And this is just one of the reasons I'm a strong believer in letting many kids with that sense of entitlement work first before attending college/University. The shock of actually having to get out there and cope often shocks them into reality.

My son did that cause he just was not ready for more education at 18, and, by the time he did go to the University, he whipped thru in 3 years with honors in two disciplines. I think he got the lesson well.
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Old 09-14-2010, 08:53 AM   #8
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I don't think my daughter had a very good idea of what reality was before she left the nest earlier this year. I think she has a much better idea now since she is living on her own and paying her own bills. She's doing fine - she even has part time job along with her full time job. She's very happy and independent.

I'm so glad that she doesn't have any college loans to repay. The money that we set aside for her when she was a baby paid for her college. She lived at home, saving a bunch by not living at school. She worked all thru college - she's not afraid of work. She has a nice fairly large emergency fund (left over college fund) that is a nice cushion.

I'm very grateful for her not having in loans to repay.
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Old 09-14-2010, 09:31 AM   #9
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I just refused to pay for my son's University. Period. I paid for my own thru working and scholarship and a grant I got, so I let him figure it out for himself as he was more than old enough when he went. Amazingly, he did and, also, got a grant and owed zip when he got out. Sometimes these kids suprise you if you push them out to do it for themselves...or, at the very least, mine did.

Since I felt I spoiled him and he did have that sense of entitlement, I felt he needed some real life experience...so I gave it to him. He's off his high horse now...
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Old 09-14-2010, 10:58 AM   #10
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Does the 16 hours studying include in class or just out of class?

Personally I guess I would look more at results. FWIW way back when I was in college I picked classes that had no attendance requirements and didn't attend class if the professor was boring or just regurgitated teh book. Some courses I went to every class. Others I just went to the exams after I had assessed the course.

For my own kids, I encourage them to attend class. However, if they can make good grades with studying 10 hours a week (or whatever) then I don't see the point of requiring more study. Of course if they can't then I won't be paying for it for very long.
I assumed it referred to out of class, that is how I arrived at my total of 30 hrs. When I was at university I had classes all day, all week until noon on Saturday, and labs many afternoons. I don't think I ever met anyone except some preppy heir to a giant fortune who didn't study very hard. My all-in total, study, class and labs would have been well over 50 hours and there were many who studied more. One of my professors came up to us from CCNY- he said you guys think you study hard, you're really just a bunch of slackers.

Regarding grades- good grades are a function of the demands of the university and the quality of the competition as well as the diligence and intelligence of the student, and ones's grades often do not tell the whole story of what s/he learned.

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The low number of study hours is a reflection of the lack of drive and self-discipline (on average) and sense of entitlement "I don't need to try very hard to succeed... things always work out for me".


This has created a real challenge for businesses.

This is why we import certain types of talent from foreign countries ... fewer and fewer [natives] have the drive and self-discipline to learn difficult subject matter.
This is certainly true. Neither of my sons has another non-immigrant on his team. The quality of our science and engineering going forward may depend a lot on how long newly arrived immigrants stay, and if they stay how long their culture can be maintained across generations. Today's typical american high school culture could ruin Horatio Alger. But the current American high school crop of east and south asians should lift performance in college for a good while. Not many young Chinese women are going to be pursuing "gender studies".

Ha
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Old 09-14-2010, 11:15 AM   #11
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I assumed it referred to out of class, that is how I arrived at my total of 30 hrs. When I was at university I had classes all day, all week until noon on Saturday, and labs many afternoons. I don't think I ever met anyone except some preppy heir to a giant fortune who didn't study very hard. My all-in total, study, class and labs would have been well over 50 hours and there were many who studied more. One of my professors came up to us from CCNY- he said you guys think you study hard, you're really just a bunch of slackers.

Regarding grades- good grades are a function of the demands of the university and the quality of the competition as well as the diligence and intelligence of the student, and ones's grades often do not tell the whole story of what s/he learned.



This is certainly true. Neither of my sons has another non-immigrant on his team.

Ha

Back when I was in school.... a prof said that the avg time spent was 3 to 5 hrs per week X # of hours taken... so, if you had a 'full load' of 15 hours, that would be 45 to 75 hours outside of class plus the time in class... going to college is a full time job...

If someone is only doing 1 hr outside for each hr of class time, they are not doing enough IMO...
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Old 09-14-2010, 11:31 AM   #12
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College is becoming more and more of a con job with each new generation. We're told that we NEED that piece of paper, even if it puts us $100K in hock to start our adult lives, only to find fewer and fewer opportunities combined with more and more degree holders competing for them.

And it is that believe that there's no future for anyone without college that is driving excess demand to get into college, and thus creating cost increases MUCH faster than inflation.
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Old 09-14-2010, 11:32 AM   #13
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I believe there are a number of causes...

  1. Boomer parents with little financial sense
  2. Middle-class Boomer parents spoiling their kids and trying to make it easy for them... sometimes pushed by peer pressure (general expectations) and their kids demands.
The low number of study hours is a reflection of the lack of drive and self-discipline (on average) and sense of entitlement "I don't need to try very hard to succeed... things always work out for me".

This has created a real challenge for businesses.
This is as true today as it was in 1972 when I graduated. So I'd substitute "misguided" for Boomer in #1 & #2 above.

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Old 09-14-2010, 11:45 AM   #14
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I went to college for the same reason most people now do: because at 18 we have no other idea for where to put ourselves. By the final year, hours spent studying was very minimal. Pay attention during lectures and take advantage of office hours. Five page papers should become a breeze by senior year. Why is efficiency seen as a bad thing?

Went to a cheap state school with my parents paying the full bill and four years as an NCAA athlete was a pretty big highlight for me. Still, no matter what they teach you, it's a major scam

If someone has a ideas for a career that require a degree, community colleges are close to free for young people paying their own way, which is like getting a four year degree for half price

Take the money spent on tuition, dorm room, meal plan, books, partying, et cetera, and invest it. Instead spend those years in the work force moving up the pay scale, while still living with your parents. Visit public libraries

Anyone who does that is looking at 45 as a normal retirement age
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Old 09-14-2010, 01:04 PM   #15
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Maybe 24 hours of studying can be done in 14 now given advances in technology. I can spend 30 seconds perusing the web from a variety of wireless internet connected devices at arms reach to find an answer to 90% of things (that have answers). Used to be (even when I was in college not quite 10 years ago) that I would have to head over to the library for research.

For engineering students, spreadsheets, graphing calculators, MATLAB and statistical analysis software exist today. A student today can crunch a lot more numbers, analyze slope fields, integrate complex equations, and determine confidence intervals much quicker and easier than the students of yore. I used to spend time going to the library to photocopy course notes/required reading. Now I imagine professors generally have pdfs of all non-textbook course resources online, which I can download to any variety of smart gadgets.

But there is probably some merit to the article. Easy money for college has made it a reality for more people, hence watering down the student body. The best, brightest and richest no longer populate the now-egalitarian ivory towers. Having completed 2 degrees in rather difficult disciplines and one degree in a rather simple discipline has shown me that the amount of effort required for a particular level of degree is widely disparate among different disciplines.
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Old 09-14-2010, 02:18 PM   #16
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Easy money for college has made it a reality for more people, hence watering down the student body. The best, brightest and richest no longer populate the now-egalitarian ivory towers.
I don't think that's a recent development-- it probably happened when the GI Bill kicked in after WWII.
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Old 09-14-2010, 02:30 PM   #17
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"gender studies".

Ha
I had a minor in "opposite gender" studies. Majored in beer.

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Maybe 24 hours of studying can be done in 14 now given advances in technology. I can spend 30 seconds perusing the web from a variety of wireless internet connected devices at arms reach to find an answer to 90% of things (that have answers). Used to be (even when I was in college not quite 10 years ago) that I would have to head over to the library for research.

For engineering students, spreadsheets, graphing calculators, MATLAB and statistical analysis software exist today. A student today can crunch a lot more numbers, analyze slope fields, integrate complex equations, and determine confidence intervals much quicker and easier than the students of yore. I used to spend time going to the library to photocopy course notes/required reading. Now I imagine professors generally have pdfs of all non-textbook course resources online, which I can download to any variety of smart gadgets.

But there is probably some merit to the article. Easy money for college has made it a reality for more people, hence watering down the student body. The best, brightest and richest no longer populate the now-egalitarian ivory towers. Having completed 2 degrees in rather difficult disciplines and one degree in a rather simple discipline has shown me that the amount of effort required for a particular level of degree is widely disparate among different disciplines.
What, no slide rule?

I can attest that an associate degree in electronics was much more difficult than a bachelor degree in business...

Furthermore, at both the community college and university, I was made to look much brighter by the bell curve!
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Old 09-14-2010, 04:05 PM   #18
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Kids have it so easy now days.

When I was in college I had to walk 3 miles to 6 AM classes in the snow, uphill both ways. I had so much homework that bathroom was stocked with physic textbooks instead of Playboys. Study hours were 4 PM to midnight every day except for game days during football season.

Anyway that is what I told mom and dad
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Old 09-14-2010, 04:26 PM   #19
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I don't think that's a recent development-- it probably happened when the GI Bill kicked in after WWII.
I guess I was thinking of the federal guaranteed student loan program and more availability of private student lending along with bankruptcy protection for student loan lenders. And easy credit more generally with cash out refinances, HELOCs, 125% cash outs or cash back at closing.

There seems to have been a change in the attitude towards debt over the last 50 years as well. Was it caused by easier access to credit, or did the attitudes toward debt cause easier credit?
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