College Expensive and the closing of ITT Tech

Previously posted on September 9th elsewhere by me. Reposting here as I move stuff to Medium.

On the closure of ITT tech, I’m a little ambivalent on the specific case. You can’t help but be saddened by people who will be losing their jobs. But I honestly think the students have been spared a bleak and expensive future.

We’ve taken college too far in this country (and in some others). The idea that everybody should go to college is honestly ludicrous. And the expense has grown far too much. Not all jobs really should need a college education. And not all well-paying jobs should require it too. But ultimately, the prospect of college has just gone horribly wrong.

Let’s do a thought experiment.

Imagine you are a bank loan officer, and I have come to you for a bank loan to pay for a new roof over my house. Because currently it doesn’t have one at all. I explain to you that the cost of this roof will be somewhere around $129,620*. It’ll need to be completed in stages over a four-year period, so don’t worry I don’t need all the money at once.

I need the roof over my house, because I have the prospect of a well-paying stay at home job. With this job, I will easily be able to pay the loan over a period of a decade (or more). I might even be able to afford more loans down the road for cars and the like, which would benefit you. But without the roof, I can’t get the job at all.
 But: There are things, you as the bank officer, should know that I may not be entirely aware of myself.

The cost of building the roof will likely go up between now and when it is finished, so I may need more money that what I’ve already stated.

During the time my roof is being built, I’ll either need to not work at all, or work a fairly low wage part time job. So I can’t actually put anything towards this loan in those years.

There is only a 1 in 4 chance the roof can actually be replaced. 3 out of 4 times, something is going to occur to prevent a total roof replacement. Again, if I don’t replace the roof I can’t get the job that will allow me to pay off this loan. Don’t worry though, I’ll still have to pay back whatever money I did borrow with that low paying job I will find in this scenario.

I should also bring up this small truth: at the pace roof technology is moving it is entirely possible that by the time the roof is built it will also be obsolete. That’s ok though, there may be an option to spend another 2 to 4 years on the roof to bring it up to that latest technology. This will require more loans of course

Even if I do manage to get the roof replaced after the four to eight years, I may not actually get the job the roof promises. This just isn’t guaranteed. As the bank officer, you probably know that there’s a lot of other people also getting their roof replaced for this job. So competition is pretty heavy. Also, in a related matter to the last point, it’s possible that in the time my roof was being built the demand for my stay at home job has dropped, further complicating matters.

So, bank officer. Knowing that I have very low odds of completing the roof, and then even lower odds of getting the job the roof is for, will you loan me all this money and possibly more?

No? That sounds like a terrible plan? Then why does replacing “build a roof” with “college degree” make it a good idea?

This isn’t saying that college is never something that should be pursued. Some degrees, some jobs, are best trained in a college setting. But we’ve taken it too far, made it too expensive, and cut out the options that frankly make more sense. And this really needs to change, and if you don’t believe it there’s one small undeniable fact.

Right now there is approximately $1.2 Trillion (with a T) in college debt owed by current and former students. Most of whom, as above, didn’t actually get a degree in the end.

The only other time I can find where we can speak about a Trillion or more in debt is the US National Debt. Do you know what is smaller? The Federal Trade Deficit. Apple, Google, and Microsoft’s total income (not just profit) in 2015 combined. The number of stars in our galaxy.

This is a crisis, and it needs to be fixed at every level. College can be a good thing. But most of the time, for most of the students, it isn’t anymore.
 *$129,620 taken from http://www.collegedata.com/…/content/content_payarticle_tmp…