Sunday, December 2, 2012

The costs and benefits of post-secondary education and income-based repayment

Don't get too excited; I'm not at all prepared to analyze the pros and cons of college and Income-based Repayment (IBR) in this post.  I just want to whine a bit about how we desperately need to start having a serious discussion about the value of post-high-school education.  

Certainly, I want to be surrounded by thinkers.  Given my druthers, I'd make high school a series of seminars on aesthetic, political, and moral philosophy.  I also love the idea of having an academy (in the sense of a university dedicated to study and research, divorced from the market).

And, certainly, some people go into higher education because they are passionate about their particular field (right here, baby!).  They should be able to do this; we need passion.  Most do not, however.  Most pursue higher education out of an interest combined with a desire to live the lifestyle (make the money) associated with the career in question.  And there is nothing wrong with that, either.  (Footnote: these entirely accurate numbers are based on tireless research conducted by me in which I make shit up.)

But when so many, for example, law students are graduating with debt that they will never be able to pay--when, that is, they are not getting out of the whole business what they were pursuing--what, exactly, is the point and who is bearing the cost?  Not, certainly, the schools, as this post on LG&M makes clear.

This is such a complicated question, dependent upon big ideas about society and social welfare and philosophic priorities, which is why it is hard to talk about.  And yet, we should be doing it anyway.

Sure, some people are having these conversations (the gentlemen on LG&M being a notable example), but those conversations have not yet gone wide enough.  This issue has very big and very real implications for a huge number of people, my students amongst them.  Those people should be in on the discussions and decision-making.

Lesson plan?

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