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Reforming College Education

| Opinion | October 3, 2019

by Rob Werner

With Democrat presidential candidates calling for college student loan forgiveness and free colleges for all, it is time for us to examine what drives the price up, what encourages student loans and why college education has become a financial loss.

College professors are great at telling everyone else how to run our society but are poor at managing their own institutions. The major cost of college comes from the employment of teachers. Full time employment runs from a maximum of 12 hours per week at the junior colleges to just three hours a week in the University of California and major private colleges. Educators may claim that they need the additional time for research or for preparation or grading, but very few professors are needed for research. The tech age has made preparation and grading simpler. Once the teacher finishes the first year, little needs to be changed. If college teachers, with few exceptions, were required to teach 20 hours a week it could reduce teaching costs by 75%.

Students are often forced to buy books whose primary purpose is to generate income for their teachers. It is reported that Senator Elizabeth Warren, an advocate of college loan forgiveness, earned a salary of $192,550 plus benefits from teaching one class. She required her students to pay hundreds of dollars for a book she published. This cost could be eliminated by prohibiting the demanded use and sale of such products. Standard texts for such things as math, science and history do not need to be changed unless there are major new discoveries. It doesn’t matter if the books are 20 years old and one third the cost of new editions.

Like business, there should be a review of the cost effectiveness of mandated classes. In a free market, there would be financial interest of lenders to loan money to students who through educational pursuits will achieve a high paying job. Under our current program of guaranteed loan payback, the lenders make money on students who don’t complete college or who acquire a useless degree. There is too much incentive to offer loans. Colleges love the loan programs. It represents a massive form of income. Students are immediately directed to loan programs – all the excess money leads the universities to constantly increase charges. Colleges that don’t warn the students of the risks and difficulties of paying the loans are defrauding their own students.

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In my opinion, the current student loan program takes advantage of women. They are often steered into useless degrees and acquire monumental debts far surpassing the guys.

We need to reexamine the purpose of college education. It has morphed from career and work-related classes to mandated social reeducation. Students should not be forced to pay for classes that teach them what they should think, or promote progressive causes. These types of classes now encompass about 20% of the courses required for graduation. So, let’s eliminate these classes and pass that savings onto the students.

Colleges need to form a partnership with businesses, industries and professions. The courses they require, and the subject matter taught should be what is needed for employment. Many current blue-collar jobs require some technical expertise and colleges need to constantly be flexible to meet the needs of both students and their employers.

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