Sunday, March 14, 2010
Educational Snake Oil
I hate to admit it, but the New York Times finally has caught on to the fraud in secondary education. The type of fraud being committed by these diploma mills used to only be found on matchbooks and back page of comics. These schools advertise programs in hospitality, construction, culinary arts, machine tool technology, entrepreneurship, aesthetics, massage therapy, welding and more. They try to cover all the growth industries that young job seekers are trying to break into. Somehow they managed to omit buggy whips, punch cards, and DOS.
Now our unemployed come prepared with useless degrees and huge debt. My favorite program is construction management. The advertisement shows some twenty year old Heather managing a huge construction job. Hello! I don't think someone is going to put this legally blond lookalike in charge of the next Hoover Dam. Would you want this centerfold for This Old House building your dream house, or do you want Bubba? After all, Bubba has been building houses for thirty years; he started at sixteen, working for his father.
Tech colleges offer such esoteric programs as "Fork Lift Operator" and "Under Car Technician". Now when I was fifteen I went to work in the warehouse of my uncle's construction company. My forklift training consisted of someone pointing out the forklift and telling me "don't tip it over and don't chew up the sheet-rock". I didn't need a six month $5,000 program leading to an OSHA certification. "Under Car Technician", what does that qualify you for? Perhaps, a lucrative career in the grease pit at Minute-Lube?
Business has turfed its training programs to the junior colleges. The hospital no longer trains its surgical techs. Now instead of being paid while you learn, you pay the college $15,000. The hospital gets free labor, the labor pool is increased, the wages are kept low and everyone wins except the student. Probably 30% drop out during the program and of the ones that finish half are no longer employed in the field in 3 years. The college never told them they would have to work sixteen hours a day seven days a week and soon the excitement of the glossy brochure wears off and they still owe thousands. The hospital was honest enough to tell some of its trainees they weren't suitable for the job; today's college couldn't care less. The student to them only represents a transfer payment and not an investment. The blood sucking lawyers don't help with all their litigation. Now even the hospital greeters need to be certified by some organization.
Some people have filed lawsuits against these bogus educational programs. It still is a buyer beware situation since the schools have the legal guns on their side. Besides a union-card the most useless piece of paper one can posses without a job is a a diploma from Ding-Dong Tech. If you don't have a chance to recoup your tuition and expenses within three years of graduation you are probably being ripped off. If you are sixty years old and are going to invest $20,000 to learn medical transcription forget it; go work at Wal-Mart until you're ready to retire. Medical transcription is going the way of the carburetor. If I hear one more college commercial boasting that they create jobs, blood will shoot out my nose. This is a scandal reminiscent of Fannie-Mae and Freddie-Mac.
The Federal Government is involved---now I get it!