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    Originally Posted by Val
    Some may see personal anecdotes as reflecting a way to describe reality, but they would be wrong.
    Anecdotal evidence reflects a person's lived experiences... concrete reality.

    Originally Posted by Val
    For example, "My personal experience in Kansas has shown me that the world is flat, and people who disagree are clearly not looking carefully enough."
    Some may say that this not a good analogy, as sanne was careful to post "there are unconventional ways to get things accomplished. Depends on what one is willing to sacrifice... I'm not claiming that all can do it... I'm encouraging creativity and ideas for solving the problem of college expense... people that I have personal connection to who have solved this problem."

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    Originally Posted by Dude
    the American Dream... we're basically talking about how it is dying
    I agree.

    Brainstorming on ways to revive it, reinvent it, morph it...?

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    Originally Posted by indigo
    Public policy differs from faith-based assistance. One example may be the opportunity for all members of a specific faith to attend that faith's universities free of charge. Some may reject this opportunity, however it is an opportunity from which many have benefited.

    Name one faith-based university where all members may attend free of charge.

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    Originally Posted by Quantum2003
    My kids actually need their cellphones for school.

    My employer has deemed my access to a smart phone so critical to business operations that they have provided both the hardware and the data plan at no cost to me. Ditto a laptop.

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    Originally Posted by Dude
    Originally Posted by indigo
    Public policy differs from faith-based assistance. One example may be the opportunity for all members of a specific faith to attend that faith's universities free of charge. Some may reject this opportunity, however it is an opportunity from which many have benefited.
    Name one faith-based university where all members may attend free of charge.
    There may be a difference between "the opportunity for all..." and "where all may attend"... as there is selectivity among applicants. When you removed the word opportunity, the meaning changed.

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    I have several thoughts about this topic, many of which have already been raised. To the extent that there are sides, I certainly see where there is some validity--especially experientially--on all sides. I also work in a setting with many learners who would be first generation college students, were they to attend post-secondary. Some stray thoughts:

    1. Contrary to expected or common educator practice, I have been known to actively discourage academically capable students from attending college--until they have a clear purpose and motivation for doing so, principally because of the cost, and likely debilitating debt burden. Go only if you know why.

    2. I strongly encourage those for whom it is likely to be a financial hardship (or impossible) in particular to take advantage of programs such as those ithat exist in several states, to attend the first two years in a community college, and then transfer into a state college or university. In some states, transferring with a high enough GPA and/or an AA degree can get you the last two years, in a four year college, at community college tuition.

    3. Unfortunately, by and large, the demand for programs such as those I've described often either exceeds supply, or, on the opposite end, they are insufficiently publicized to the population that would most benefit from them.

    4. And then there are all those other communities, without these programs.

    Oh, and on another note, one of our attempts as a secondary setting to level the playing field consists of no-cost netbooks for every student, which they take with them at graduation, and ample practical instruction in the use of technology in education and employment. Though one could hypothetically use only school and public library computers to complete college coursework, it would be quite challenging for anyone without substantial time to spend on campus, which seems likely to be incompatible with working many hours while attending school. Actually, we've found that an additional challenge for our students is lack of access to reliable, inexpensive internet. Though libraries do help a little with this one, that only applies during daytime hours.

    And on another, moderately related topic, there is also the question of unsustainable business models among post-secondary institutions, both public and private, and their interaction with tuition schedules and student fees.


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    I have read the exact same arguments swirling around the cost of education in another group recently and the differing positions expressed in this thread were raised almost exactly the same way there. What I read is the argument of the individual case(or personal responsibility)/each student's ability to pull themselves "up by the bootstraps" vs. what we want to do as a society to make higher education accessible for the good of society/our economy. In this way I see people talking past each other.

    My father grew up on a farm without indoor plumbing. He weeded and chopped cotton every spring, summer and fall every year of his youth so that his family could live. He worked his way through college entirely without help from anyone. His degree allowed him enough upward mobility to raise me and my siblings in a decent house with no food insecurity but ongoing financial struggle. I never had to work as a kid and instead worked very hard in school and excelled academically and in several extracurriculars. I was able to attend our state flagship on full merit scholarship and go to law school on a full merit scholarship (and neither of these schools offers these scholarships any longer.)

    Our family has experienced both pulling up by the bootstraps and the incremental socioeconomic advancement provided by higher education. It is admirable to see a student who can sacrifice so much to get an education but I don't think we as a society want a parking lot full of kids living in their cars so that they can access higher education.

    What kinds of education do we need in our economy for us to be successful as a nation/state? What investment are we willing to make to ensure that our education needs are met in a way that will benefit everyone the most efficiently? Will that be direct investment of public money, incentives, tax breaks/benefits? All laws/taxes/spending are simply an expression of what kind of society we want to live in and what we value.

    Looking ahead, we need a vibrant and thriving workforce to support the government entitlement demands of the large aging population in the US. Do we have enough high wage earners in the education pipeline to do this? Are they all going to be so burdened by debt that they defer the big purchases that drive the economy and generate revenue for governments and support local economies? In a certain sense, investing in education now will likely pay us back as a society exponentially through higher wages, more jobs and more spending by the lower debt graduates later.

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    If college education is largely about signaling, as Bryan Caplan (the interviewee below and author of the recent book, "The Case Against Education") suggests, sending more people to college does not achieve much social good, and subsidies for higher education should be reduced.

    School Is Expensive. Is It Worth It?
    By James Taranto
    Wall Street Journal
    April 14, 2018
    Quote
    What does the sheepskin signal? His answer is threefold: intelligence, work ethic and conformity. “Finishing a philosophy degree from Princeton—most people are not smart enough to do that,” he says. At the same time, “you could be very smart and still fail philosophy at Princeton, because you don’t put in the time and effort to go and pass your classes.”

    As for conformity, Mr. Caplan puts the signal into words: “I understand what society expects of me. I’m willing to do it; I’m not going to complain about it; I’m just going to comply. I’m not going to sit around saying, ‘Why do we have to do this stuff? Can’t we do it some other way? I don’t feel like it!’ ” It’s easy to gainsay the value of conformity, a trait the spectacularly successful often lack. Think Mark Zuckerberg. But then imagine how he would have fared as a 21-year-old college dropout applying for an entry-level corporate job.

    Mr. Caplan believes these signals are reliable, that college graduates generally do make better employees than nongraduates. Thus it is rational for employers to favor them, and for young people to go through school. Yet the system as a whole is dysfunctional, he argues, because the signaling game is zero-sum. He illustrates the point with another analogy: If everyone at a concert is sitting, and you want to see better, you can stand up. “But if everyone stands up, everyone does not see better.”

    The advantage of having a credential, that is, comes at the expense of those who lack it, pushing them to pursue it simply to keep up. The result is “credential inflation.” Today a college degree is a prerequisite for jobs that didn’t previously require one—secretary, rental-car clerk, high-end waiter. And to return to the concert analogy, if you’re unable to stand, you’re objectively worse off than before. “People who are in the bottom 25% of math scores—their odds of finishing college, if they start, are usually like 5% or 10%,” Mr. Caplan says. They end up saddled with debt and shut out of jobs they may be perfectly capable of performing.

    Signals weaken as they become widely diffused. Mr. Caplan says studies that track how students spend their time confirm the suspicion that higher education isn’t as rigorous as it once was. “In the mid-’60s, a typical college student would be spending 40 hours a week on academic stuff—classes plus studying. And now, it’s about one-third less,” he says. “College is kind of a party now.” A college degree doesn’t signal the same intensity of work ethic as it did then, but because of the zero-sum nature of signaling, those without degrees look lazier than before.

    Originally Posted by Dude
    Long dead are the days where a plucky youth could work all summer at a minimum-wage job and save enough money for the next 9 months of college tuition.

    Today, food insecurity and homelessness among college students is on the rise, and has moved into the middle class: https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo...pread-among-college-students-study-finds

    How we can expect to remain competitive in the global marketplace with these kinds of artificial barriers to success is beyond me.

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    Originally Posted by fwtxmom
    What kinds of education do we need in our economy for us to be successful as a nation/state?
    Individuals need the kind of education which resonates with their sense of purpose, calling, and motivation to succeed despite obstacles requiring sacrifice. This ought not to be decided, determined, or dictated by the "nation/state."

    Originally Posted by fwtxmom
    What investment are we willing to make to ensure that our education needs are met in a way that will benefit everyone the most efficiently?
    That would depend upon who you mean as:
    - "we" (individuals and their families? government? Or...?)
    - "our" (US citizens who have funded the system? foreign nationals arriving on our shores for higher education which many US citizens are unable to fund for their own children? Or...? )
    - "everyone" (US citizens? government? Or...?)

    Originally Posted by fwtxmom
    Will that be direct investment of public money, incentives, tax breaks/benefits?
    Please be aware that ALL public money to be collected in the next several decades has already been spent. This is why we have a burgeoning National Debt.

    Originally Posted by fwtxmom
    All laws/taxes/spending are simply an expression of what kind of society we want to live in and what we value.
    Do we value a society of freedom for our children? Or one in which they are assigned, as slaves, to jobs, housing, etc by a government to which they owe all of their earnings, based on the government spending (some may say overspending) and increased National Debt incurred in the past decade?

    Originally Posted by fwtxmom
    Looking ahead, we need a vibrant and thriving workforce to support the government entitlement demands of the large aging population in the US.
    Do I detect a double-standard, in you calling out "the government entitlement demands of the large aging population"? In a society based in large part on reciprocity, in which US citizens pool a portion of their money (through taxes, Social Security FICA, insurance programs, charities, etc) to ease the burden of greatest need... ought not the persons who've paid into the system for decades be able to have some portion of their investment returned to them when they are in need and no longer working - possibly forced into early retirement by a shrinking US economy, corporate consolidations, decisions to hire younger workers, etc?

    Originally Posted by fwtxmom
    Do we have enough high wage earners in the education pipeline to do this?
    Enough "high wage earners" or potential future wage earners? Citizens who've not yet worked and contributed to the system... but believe they are entitled to having the system further invest in them?

    Originally Posted by fwtxmom
    In a certain sense, investing in education now will likely pay us back as a society exponentially through higher wages, more jobs and more spending by the lower debt graduates later.
    To the degree that many jobs are being replaced by technology, and more of the available jobs in the future are projected to be in a service economy, not requiring college degrees, one may be wise to carefully consider the types of post-secondary education one wishes to engage in... including one's debt as compared with potential job prospects and earnings. The US Gov't Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH) is a free resource, accessible to all. The College Board AP also offers a bit of information for career planning.

    As mentioned on a similar thread about 4 years ago,
    1) distributing the cost of college among all tax-paying citizens may unduly burden those not attending college... which some may consider socially unjust,
    2) there may be an ironic balance in that getting more "free" stuff often comes with a tradeoff of being less "free" as an increasing number of life-decisions may be made for a person by an outside entity.

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    Originally Posted by Bostonian
    If college education is largely about signaling, as Bryan Caplan (the interviewee below and author of the recent book, "The Case Against Education") suggests,

    Well, it seems pretty obvious that a college education is largely about education.

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