Feb 062013

When confronted with a problem, the usual drive among most people is to fix it. But often the fix is not a fix of the root cause, but just of a symptom, with the result that the problem gets worse. For example: both education and health care in the US are expensive and getting more so. Many people see this problem and leap to an immediate, easy, and entirely wrong conclusion: if education or health care are too expensive… the government should pay for it. This is an incredibly popular idea among the unthinking, but the flaws are many and readily apparent to those who wish to examine the issue honestly. Most importantly, if a disinterested moneybags (such as, say, government) pays for an expensive commodity like education, there is no incentive to lower the cost. If the disinterested moneybags actually benefits from the high cost (as government does… the more expensive education/healthcare are, the more people have to rely of government, and the more power the government accrues), then there is incentive for costs to *increase.* And as we’ve seen, as government digs deeper and deeper into education and healthcare, the more expensive they get.

So this was somewhat of a pleasant surprise:

A number of state governments are looking into programs that will reduce the cost of a four-year degree to $10,000… a fraction of the normal cost. There will be performance requirements for the students – maintain certain GPA, take a substantial number of credit hours per semester, increase use of online courses. Perhaps most surprising, the degrees are not for lib-arts, but for actually meaningful subjects… such as biology, mathematics and chemistry.

It would be interesting to see the actual cost breakdown of a college education. Teaching someone in, effectively, Grade 13 need not be substantially more involved than teaching someone in Grade 12, so why does it cost so much more?
 Posted by at 6:04 pm
  • A bit over 15 years ago here in Virginia 15 credits would run you 1200 bucks at ODU. Now that I’m back and finally going full time again 15 credits is 4500+. In the intervening time they declared that all my lower level courses were invalid (not unreasonable for ALL of them as there has been some major progress in science) and after I retook them they got rid of my major (aquaculture).

    The school has not gotten especially better academically, but we now have brick sidewalks, a rock climbing wall, a maglev monorail that induction welded itself to the track upon being turned on, never to move again, koi ponds that were restocked multiple times until they realized it was the otters and not the locals eating the fish and the Earth sciences building is decorated with far left political cartoons. So hey…the money went somewhere.

    I’m gonna graduate this year with a degree that ends in the word “studies” and go teach english in Japan for a few years. If I had it to do again I’d go chem engineering or not go at all. This will not pass any sort of cost benefit analysis. I’m just glad I’m paying as I go.

    So Rick Perry’s idea is certainly doable. We were doing it 15 years ago and getting more for it…but without the award winning landscaping.

    • Anonymous

      > we now have brick sidewalks, a rock climbing wall

      I saw something – I think on “Stossel” – about just this sort of nonsense some months back… universities are throwing buckets of money at meaningless bullcrap in order to entice students in for the *fun* of the place, not the *education.* I guess that makes sense, since our society has decided that damn near everyone *needs* a college degree, and the university will get a pot of cash for each student (often from the FedGuv), so the important thing is to get them in the door, not get them through the whole process.

      > a maglev monorail that induction welded itself to the track upon being turned on

      That sounds *spectacular.* Got any links for that?

  • Michael the Somewhat Civilized

    I think this would be a great idea if it were limited to hard sciences, and the requirements for admission and success in classroom were kept high. I might be willing to go that route for anyone who wants to teach elementary school. I can’t say I care much what it costs liberal arts weenies to get a degree that they will use to avoid doing anything useful.