Arnold Kling  

Timothy Taylor on College Loans

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He offers his usual outstanding analysis.


Several decades ago, it was a low-risk option to spend a few years working part-time and attending a big public university: if it didn't end up in a degree, at least you didn't rack up much or perhaps anything at all in loans and you could learn something and have a good time and grow up a little along the way. But at current prices, that part-time job won't pay the higher education bills at most institutions. Sending a message that all students should try a few years of college, even if it requires taking on tens of thousands of dollars in loans, is borderline irresponsible.

Read the whole thing. And if you are not reading Timothy Taylor every day, then cut down on your reading of other blogs so that you fit him in.


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COMMENTS (7 to date)
Andreas Moser writes:

Why don't American kids go to other countries and study there? Much cheaper, and they pick up a foreign language.
I don't understand it. Most US universities are not better than most other countries' universities.

Finch writes:

> Most US universities are not better than most
> other countries' universities.

Most people don't believe that statement.

But more importantly, whether the institutions in America are better or not aside, the admissions departments in America are surely better in the sense that they provide more invasive testing of applicants than firms are allowed to do.

Going abroad for your whole degree (leaving out term-abroad programs) is a signal of weirdness.

Finally, there are practical issues like the expense of moving, the distance from friends and family and the waste of needing to learn a language. I'll never understand why Europeans, in particular, boast of knowing multiple languages as if that were a Good Thing. If Americans all cut off their left hand in childhood, and then proceeded to learn to play tennis anyway, we'd call that a colossal waste. We should have the guts to say the same thing about language.

R. Pointer writes:

Finch, please explain why you think learning another language is a waste?

Really, of all the things that could be last on the list of what kids learn in school, language is your bottom dweller?

Finch writes:

My point is that needing to learn a second language is a self-inflicted handicap. It isn't an act act of god that makes kids grow up speaking French, for example, it's parents who make that happen. Parents who raise kids to speak languages like Swedish, German, or Basque - local-only languages - are causing them harm and necessitating their spending a tremendous amount of time and effort overcoming that handicap in the future. French may not be the best example since there's a small amount of international usage. French in Quebec is a pretty good example.

This is perhaps a gripe for which it is unrealistic to expect a quick fix, but I think the long term trend will be for these languages to go away. Presumably in 100 years we'll all speak English, Spanish, or Mandarin; probably English. Mass communication changes things, and this is a change for the better.

To answer your question, yes, language is a bottom dweller. It's down there with cursive. I wish I had all the hours I spent on a foreign language back, even though I got pretty good at it.

M.R. Orlowski writes:

Finch,

Cursive? That's crazy, writing in cursive, at least in my life, has not been a tremendous handicap whatsoever. It allows one to write things much more quickly, at least with the alternatives which are namely print and typing. The former just takes too long and the latter is an inconvenience. How many people are going to bring a computer around with them everywhere to take notes of things? Are you going to practice math that way? It's pretty well known that computers and electronics have been on a steady price deflation in recent years, but paper and pencil are still probably cheaper in comparison, that is, for the purposes of writing.

SWH writes:

Tim's message is one the US public needs to learn. Debt for education that does not increase income in a luxury. Yes, it is a great luxury....worth more than a new beemer to me. But, by definition a luxury. Parents that push their children into education debt that is unlikely to be financed by the education are, at best, poor parents.

Finch writes:

I gave up cursive the instant teachers stopped checking. I encourage others to do the same.

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