Would you like to know what America’s young people are actually learning while they are away at college? It isn’t pretty. Yes, there are some very highly technical fields where students are being taught some very important skills, but for the most part U.S. college students are learning very little that they will actually use out in the real world when they graduate. Some of the college courses listed below are funny, others are truly bizarre, others are just plain outrageous, but all of them are a waste of money. If we are going to continue to have a system where we insist that our young people invest several years of their lives and tens of thousands of dollars getting a “college education”, they might as well be learning some useful skills in the process. This is especially true considering how much student loan debt many of our young people are piling up. Sadly, the truth is that right now college education in the United States is a total joke. I know – I spent eight years in the system. Most college courses are so easy that they could be passed by the family dog, and many of these courses “study” some of the most absurd things imaginable.
Listed below are 20 completely ridiculous college courses being offered at U.S. universities. The description following each course title either comes directly from the official course description or from a news story about the course…
1. “What If Harry Potter Is Real?” (Appalachian State University) – This course will engage students with questions about the very nature of history. Who decides what history is? Who decides how it is used or mis-used? How does this use or misuse affect us? How can the historical imagination inform literature and fantasy? How can fantasy reshape how we look at history? The Harry Potter novels and films are fertile ground for exploring all of these deeper questions. By looking at the actual geography of the novels, real and imagined historical events portrayed in the novels, the reactions of scholars in all the social sciences to the novels, and the world-wide frenzy inspired by them, students will examine issues of race, class, gender, time, place, the uses of space and movement, the role of multiculturalism in history as well as how to read a novel and how to read scholarly essays to get the most out of them.
2. “God, Sex, Chocolate: Desire and the Spiritual Path” (UC San Diego) – Who shapes our desire? Who suffers for it? Do we control our desire or does desire control us? When we yield to desire, do we become more fully ourselves or must we deny it to find an authentic identity beneath? How have religious & philosophical approaches dealt with the problem of desire?
3. “GaGa for Gaga: Sex, Gender, and Identity” (The University Of Virginia) – In Graduate Arts & Sciences student Christa Romanosky’s ongoing ENWR 1510 class, “GaGa for Gaga: Sex, Gender, and Identity,” students analyze how the musician pushes social boundaries with her work. For this introductory course to argumentative essay writing, Romanosky chose the Lady Gaga theme to establish an engaging framework for critical analysis.
4. “Lady Gaga and the Sociology of Fame” (The University Of South Carolina) – Lady Gaga may not have much class but now there is a class on her. The University of South Carolina is offering a class called Lady Gaga and the Sociology of Fame. Mathieu Deflem, the professor teaching the course describes it as aiming to “unravel some of the sociologically relevant dimensions of the fame of Lady Gaga with respect to her music, videos, fashion, and other artistic endeavours.”
5. “Philosophy And Star Trek” (Georgetown) – Star Trek is very philosophical. What better way, then, to learn philosophy, than to watch Star Trek, read philosophy, and hash it all out in class? That’s the plan. This course is basically an introduction to certain topics in metaphysics and epistemology philosophy, centered around major philosophical questions that come up again and again in Star Trek. In conjunction with watching Star Trek, we will read excerpts from the writings of great philosophers, extract key concepts and arguments and then analyze those arguments.
6. “Invented Languages: Klingon and Beyond” (The University Of Texas) – Why would anyone want to learn Klingon?
7. “The Science Of Superheroes” (UC Irvine) – Have you ever wondered if Superman could really bend steel bars? Would a “gamma ray” accident turn you into the Hulk? What is a “spidey-sense”? And just who did think of all these superheroes and their powers? In this seminar, we discuss the science (or lack of science) behind many of the most famous superheroes. Even more amazing, we will discuss what kind of superheroes might be imagined using our current scientific understanding.
8. “Learning From YouTube” (Pitzer College) – About 35 students meet in a classroom but work mostly online, where they view YouTube content and post their comments. Class lessons also are posted and students are encouraged to post videos. One class member, for instance, posted a 1:36-minute video of himself juggling.
9. “Arguing with Judge Judy” (UC Berkeley) – TV “Judge” shows have become extremely popular in the last 3-5 years. A fascinating aspect of these shows from a rhetorical point of view is the number of arguments made by the litigants that are utterly illogical, or perversions of standard logic, and yet are used over and over again. For example, when asked “Did you hit the plaintiff?” respondents often say, “If I woulda hit him, he’d be dead!” This reply avoids answering “yes” or “no” by presenting a perverted form of the logical strategy called “a fortiori” argument [“from the stronger”] in Latin. The seminar will be concerned with identifying such apparently popular logical fallacies on “Judge Judy” and “The People’s Court” and discussing why such strategies are so widespread. It is NOT a course about law or “legal reasoning.” Students who are interested in logic, argument, TV, and American popular culture will probably be interested in this course. I emphasize that it is NOT about the application of law or the operations of the court system in general.
10. “Elvis As Anthology” (The University Of Iowa) – The class, “Elvis as Anthology,” focuses on Presley’s relationship to African American history, social change, and aesthetics. It focuses not just on Elvis, but on other artists who inspired him and whom he inspired.
11. “The Feminist Critique Of Christianity” (The University Of Pennsylvania) – An overview of the past decades of feminist scholarship about Christian and post-Christian historians and theologians who offer a feminist perspective on traditional Christian theology and practice. This course is a critical overview of this material, presented with a summary of Christian biblical studies, history and theology, and with a special interest in constructive attempts at creating a spiritual tradition with women’s experience at the center.
12. “Zombies In Popular Media” (Columbia College) – This course explores the history, significance, and representation of the zombie as a figure in horror and fantasy texts. Instruction follows an intense schedule, using critical theory and source media (literature, comics, and films) to spur discussion and exploration of the figure’s many incarnations. Daily assignments focus on reflection and commentary, while final projects foster thoughtful connections between student disciplines and the figure of the zombie.
13. “Far Side Entomology” (Oregon State) – For the last 20 years, a scientist at Oregon State University has used Gary Larson’s cartoons as a teaching tool. The result has been a generation of students learning — and laughing — about insects.
14. “Interrogating Gender: Centuries of Dramatic Cross-Dressing” (Swarthmore) – Do clothes make the man? Or the woman? Do men make better women? Or women better men? Is gender a costume we put on and take off? Are we really all always in drag? Does gender-bending lead to transcendence or chaos? These questions and their ramifications for liminalities of race, nationality and sexuality will be our focus in a course that examines dramatic works from The Bacchae to M. Butterfly.
15. “Oh, Look, a Chicken!” Embracing Distraction as a Way of Knowing (Belmont University) – Students must write papers using their personal research on the five senses. Entsminger reads aloud illustrated books The Simple People and Toby’s Toe to teach lessons about what to value by being alive. Students listen to music while doodling in class. Another project requires students to put themselves in situations where they will be distracted and write a reflection tracking how they got back to their original intent.
16. “The Textual Appeal of Tupac Shakur” (University of Washington) – The UW is not the first college with a class dedicated to Shakur — classes on the rapper have been offered at the University of California Berkeley and Harvard — but it is the first to relate Shakur’s work to literature.
17. “Cyberporn And Society” (State University of New York at Buffalo) – With classwork like this, who needs to play? Undergraduates taking Cyberporn and Society at the State University of New York at Buffalo survey Internet porn sites.
18. “Sport For The Spectator” (The Ohio State University) – Develop an appreciation of sport as a spectacle, social event, recreational pursuit, business, and entertainment. Develop the ability to identify issues that affect the sport and spectator behavior.
19. “Getting Dressed” (Princeton) – Jenna Weissman Joselit looks over the roomful of freshmen in front of her and asks them to perform a warm-up exercise: Chart the major moments of your lives through clothes. “If you pop open your closet, can you recall your lives?” she posits on the first day of the freshman seminar “Getting Dressed.”
20. “How To Watch Television” (Montclair) – This course, open to both broadcasting majors and non-majors, is about analyzing television in the ways and to the extent to which it needs to be understood by its audience. The aim is for students to critically evaluate the role and impact of television in their lives as well as in the life of the culture. The means to achieve this aim is an approach that combines media theory and criticism with media education.
Are you starting to understand why our college graduates can’t function effectively when they graduate and go out into the real world?
All of this would be completely hilarious if not for the fact that we have millions of young people going into enormous amounts of debt to pay to go to these colleges.
In America today, college education has become a giant money making scam. We have a system that absolutely throws money at our young people, but we never warn them about the consequences of all of these loans. The following is an excerpt from an email that one reader sent me recently about the student loan industry…
For example, one woman told me that her and her husband sat down and thought of every possible expense they could when they were applying for parent/student loan for their daughter. When the approval came back, they were approved for 7k more than they asked for…how about ****! Of course at 7%, why not! Funny thing is they kept the 7k, because she’s in wealth management and said she could “easily” get more than 7% in the stock market……awesome! I have another example of a younger friend of mine who graduated law school from Vanderbilt with 210k in student loans. I asked if tuition was that much there. She said kind of, but they kept offering more than the actual tuition, so she took it and used it for a better lifestyle. Now 20% of her income goes to pay those loans, and it’s still not enough to touch one dollar of the principal…so all she is doing is paying interest, and building on principal…like a revers amortizing mortgage. To make it worse, she was able to save 25k, so she is going to buy a house somehow. Having explained to her that the best investment in the world is to pay off a high interest loan, she said I’m tired of waiting to have a life.
In a recent article entitled “The Student Loan Delinquency Rate In The United States Has Hit A Brand New Record High” I detailed how nightmarish our student loan debt bubble is becoming. According to the Federal Reserve, the total amount of student loan debt has risen by 275 percent since 2003, and it just continues to soar.
A college education can be a wonderful thing, but right now we have got a system that is deeply, deeply broken.
So what do you think about our system of higher education?
Please feel free to express your opinion by posting a comment below…
If you are in college right now, you will most likely either be unemployed or working a job that only requires a high school degree when you graduate. The truth is that the U.S. economy is not coming anywhere close to producing enough jobs for the hordes of new college graduates that are entering the workforce every year. In 2011, 53 percent of all Americans with a bachelor’s degree under the age of 25 were either unemployed or underemployed. Millions upon millions of young college graduates feel like the system has totally failed them. They worked hard in school all their lives, they went into huge amounts of debt in order to get the college education that they were told they “must have” in order to get a good job, but after graduation they found that there were only a handful of good jobs for the huge waves of college graduates that were entering the “real world”. All over America, college graduates can be found waiting tables, flipping burgers and working behind the register at retail stores. Unfortunately, the employment picture in America is not going to get significantly better any time soon.
All over the United States, “middle class jobs” are being replaced by “low income jobs” and young college graduates are being hurt by this transition more than almost anyone else. Massive numbers of young college graduates are now working jobs that do not even require a high school degree. Some of the statistics about young college graduates are absolutely astounding. The following is from a recent CNBC article….
In the last year, they were more likely to be employed as waiters, waitresses, bartenders and food-service helpers than as engineers, physicists, chemists and mathematicians combined (100,000 versus 90,000). There were more working in office-related jobs such as receptionist or payroll clerk than in all computer professional jobs (163,000 versus 100,000). More also were employed as cashiers, retail clerks and customer representatives than engineers (125,000 versus 80,000).
Can you imagine working really hard all throughout high school and college and always getting good grades and then ending up as a bartender?
Sadly, many hard working college graduates cannot seem to find a decent job no matter how hard they try. The following is one example from the CNBC article mentioned above….
“I don’t even know what I’m looking for,” says Michael Bledsoe, who described months of fruitless job searches as he served customers at a Seattle coffeehouse. The 23-year-old graduated in 2010 with a creative writing degree.
Initially hopeful that his college education would create opportunities, Bledsoe languished for three months before finally taking a job as a barista, a position he has held for the last two years. In the beginning he sent three or four resumes day. But, Bledsoe said, employers questioned his lack of experience or the practical worth of his major. Now he sends a resume once every two weeks or so.
Have you ever been there?
Have you ever sent out resumes week after week, month after month, only to get absolutely nowhere?
Many recent college graduates are being advised by “career counselors” that they should go back and “get more education”.
But is that really the answer? The truth is that there are lots and lots of unemployed and underemployed Americans with advanced degrees too. For example, a recent Business Insider article profiled a law school graduate named Erin that is actually on food stamps….
She remains on food stamps so her social life suffers. She can’t afford a car, so she has to rely on the bus to get around Austin, Texas, where she lives. And currently unable to pay back her growing pile of law school debt, Gilmer says she wonders if she will ever be able to pay it back.
“That has been really hard for me,” she says. “I have absolutely no credit anymore. I haven’t been able to pay loans. It’s scary, and it’s a hard thing to think you’re a lawyer but you’re impoverished. People don’t understand that most lawyers actually aren’t making the big money.”
But what “more education” will do is that it will get you into even more debt. Student loan debt can be one of the cruelest forms of debt, because it cannot be discharged in bankruptcy.
As I wrote about a few days ago, total student loan debt in the United States recently surpassed the one trillion dollar mark. Students keep on racking up student loan debt in the hope that they will find “the American Dream” at the end of the rainbow.
Sadly, many students do everything “right” and still end up in the middle of a nightmare.
But it is not just young college graduates that are suffering in this economy.
As I wrote about a while back, the U.S. economy is not producing enough jobs for anyone at this point.
The mainstream media keeps telling us that unemployment is going down, but the truth is that the percentage of working age Americans that are employed is not increasing. In March 2010, 58.5 percent of all working age Americans had a job. In March 2012, 58.5 percent of all working age Americans had a job.
Does that sounds like improvement?
Of course not.
Unlike what we have seen after every other recession in the post-World War II era, the employment to population ratio is not bouncing back, and that is really bad news.
The main reason for this is because of the bad economy, but also it is important to understand that we are transitioning away from an “employment economy”.
Today, most large corporations view employees as very expensive “liabilities”. The goal for most large corporations is to minimize those “liabilities” as much as possible. In fact, these days some large corporations lay off huge numbers of workers even while they are making huge profits at the same time.
Once upon a time, Henry Ford made a conscious decision to pay his workers enough money so that they could afford to buy the cars that they were making.
Today, most corporations simply do not care about the living standards of their workers. They simply want to maximize profits to the fullest extent possible.
Many small businesses would like to hire more workers, but the federal government has made hiring workers so complicated and so expensive that it has become exceedingly difficult to make a profit on a worker. Most of the time it is simply easier to try to do more with what you already have.
The number of Americans that can work a job (“just over broke”) and still live “the American Dream” is steadily shrinking. Increasingly, the financial rewards in our economy are being funneled to the very top of organizations and workers are finding that their living standards continue to slowly go down.
At corporations that belong to the Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index, CEOs earn 380 times what the average worker makes at those companies. In 1980, CEOs only earned 42 times what the average worker made at those companies.
A fundamental shift is happening in our economy and it is not going to be reversed any time soon. Workers are not valued at most companies anymore. No matter how much of yourself you give to your company, when the day comes that you become “disposable”, you will be cast aside as so much rubbish.
That is why I try to encourage people to start their own businesses and to be their own bosses. There is no job security anymore. The job that you have today could be gone tomorrow.
Meanwhile, the federal government is actually spending your money to train foreign workers to take our jobs. The following is from a recent Daily Caller article….
While the president has been urging “insourcing,” the government has been sending money to the Philippines to train foreign workers for jobs in English-speaking call centers.
According to New York Democratic Rep. Tim Bishop and North Carolina Republican Rep. Walter Jones, this is unacceptable and “shocking.”
The pair are calling on the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to immediately suspend what is known as the Job Enabling English Proficiency (JEEP) program.
Can you believe that?
Over and over again, our politicians talk about the need to keep jobs in the United States and then they go out and do things that have the exact opposite effect.
It is truly maddening.
So what are the hordes of American workers that cannot find jobs supposed to do?
Well, one thing we are definitely seeing is a huge rise in the number of Americans that are dependent on the government.
For example, at the end of the Reagan administration the ratio of workers on Social Security disability to active workers was about 2 percent.
Today, it is over 6 percent.
During the first four months of 2012 alone, 539,000 more Americans were added to the Social Security disability rolls and another 725,000 submitted new applications.
Another federal program that is experiencing explosive growth is food stamps.
Last year, one out of every seven Americans was on food stamps, and the Congressional Budget Office is projecting that the number of people on food stamps will continue to grow through 2014.
It is so sad to see what is happening to America. Our economy is being dismantled all around us and the future looks incredibly bleak.
Right now there are millions upon millions of Americans that are sitting at home wallowing in despair. They don’t understand why nobody will hire them and they are rapidly running out of options.
The following is a comment that a reader left on one of my recent articles about the middle class….
I cannot believe my present situation…
I worked hard in school and college so that I could escape the low income uneducated mess I grew up in.
I made all the correct decisions with my career, finances, etc. I cannot figure out how I got to where I am at now.
In late 2008 I was laid off in the IT field. I was a go-getter, and I didn’t let anyone tell me the economy would make it difficult to find a job. I had another within 4 weeks.
Was laid off from that job last year. I qualified for unemployment, but then my employer decides to bring a bunch of lawyers and fight my eligibility. After I won again, they appealed again. I finally couldn’t afford to keep paying attorney fees. I finally lost the appeal. I had to pay all that money back.
I’m still trying to find a job in my field. Being the go-getting I am, I immediately took a job waiting tables which amounted to a 75% pay-cut.
I had saved 6 months of expenses and that is completely dry. I have completely drained my retirement and savings. Still cannot find a livable wage job after almost a decade in my field.
Things are slowly going into default and it feels utterly hopeless and stressful. My pristine credit rating is gone, my savings and everything I worked for is gone. I haven’t missed a payment on my mortgage, but it is coming. I can’t cut anything more than I already have.
I just can’t figure out how this could have happened to me. I played by the rules and made all the right choices. I skipped vacations and time off to prove I was a good worker and had what it took to be a valuable employee.
I really am just at a loss at this point. I’m single and have no family. This is really make-or-break for me. I have no fallback plan. The feeling of failure is just gut-wrenching.
Please say a prayer for that reader and for all of the other hard working Americans out there that are desperate to find a job.
If you are at the end of your rope, please do not give up. Even in the darkest moments, there is always a way to turn things around if you will just keep on fighting.
Sadly, way too many people are giving up on life because of the economy. In Europe, economic conditions have deteriorated so badly that there has been a dramatic increase in suicides. The following is from a recent article in the New York Times….
The economic downturn that has shaken Europe for the last three years has also swept away the foundations of once-sturdy lives, leading to an alarming spike in suicide rates. Especially in the most fragile nations like Greece, Ireland and Italy, small-business owners and entrepreneurs are increasingly taking their own lives in a phenomenon some European newspapers have started calling “suicide by economic crisis.”
When the next major economic downturn happens in the United States, we will probably see a similar thing happen here too.
But people need to realize that our lives are not about how much stuff we own.
Even if every single thing is taken away from you and you are left with nothing that does not mean that your life is over.
Even if you have not been able to find a job for years, that does not mean that you should give up.
In life, everyone gets knocked down.
But unless you are dead, there is always a way to get things turned around in a more positive direction.
One thing that I have learned in life is that you must never, ever, ever, ever give up.
The years ahead are going to be really hard for the global economy, but that doesn’t mean that they have to be horrible years for you.
The years ahead can be the very best years of your entire life, but that will never happen if you decide to simply give up.
Who ever imagined that Ben Bernanke would become a poster child for the student loan debt problem in America? Recently Bernanke told Congress that his son will graduate from medical school with about $400,000 of student loan debt. For most Americans, such a staggering amount of debt would almost certainly guarantee a lifetime of debt slavery. Unfortunately, Bernanke’s son is not alone. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, approximately 167,000 Americans have more than $200,000 of student loan debt. The cost of a college education has increased much more rapidly than the rate of inflation over the past several decades, and most students enter the “real world” today with a debt burden that will stay with them for most of their working lives. In an economy where there are so few good jobs for college graduates, it can be incredibly difficult to get married, buy a house or afford to have children when you are drowning in student loan debt. It would be hard to overstate the financial pain that student loans are causing many young adults in America today. The student loan debt problem is a national crisis and it is not going away any time soon.
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York says that the total amount of student loan debt in America now exceeds the total of all credit card debt in the country. It also exceeds the total of all auto loans.
The New York Fed says that there is a total of $870 billion owed on student loans in the United States right now. Other sources claim that the total amount of student loan debt in the United States will soon exceed one trillion dollars.
Either way, we are talking about an extraordinary amount of money.
Sadly, approximately two-thirds of all U.S. college students graduate with student loan debt these days. The average amount of student loan debt at graduation is approximately $25,000.
That might not be so bad if the economy was full of good paying jobs for college graduates, but that simply is not the case.
As college tuition continues to soar, the student loan debt problem continues to get even worse. U.S. college students are borrowing about twice as much money as they did a decade ago after adjusting for inflation.
That is not a good trend.
The truth is that it has simply gotten way too expensive to go to college.
Back in 1952, a full year of tuition at Harvard was only $600.
Today, the price tag is $35,568.
So why is a Harvard education 59 times more expensive than it used to be?
Somebody is getting rich off of all this, and it isn’t the students.
In fact, many students are looking at a life of debt slavery for decades to come.
The following is a quote from one recent graduate from a recent Politico article….
“I pay almost $1,000 a month just in student loan repayment. I will have to do so for the next 30 years. How will I ever afford to buy a house, have children or save for the future?”
After working so hard all the way through school, is that any kind of a “future” to look forward to?
The system is failing our young people.
Many young college graduates have found themselves unable to make their payments or have simply decided to quit making payments.
Officially, the student loan default rate has nearly doubled since 2005. But a new report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York says that things may be even worse than that. According to the New York Fed, approximately one out of every four student loan balances are past-due at this point.
But it isn’t just young people getting into trouble with student loan debt.
These days, financial institutions are increasingly targeting parents. Federal student loans often do not cover all of the expenses of college in this day and age, and so increasingly loans are being made to parents to make up the difference. Student loans made to directly to parents have increased by 75 percent since the 2005-2006 academic year.
Unfortunately, what students and parents are getting in return for all of this money is not that great.
I spent eight years of my life studying at U.S. colleges and universities. The institutions that I attended were supposed to be better than most. But most of the classes that I took were a total joke. A 6-year-old child could have passed most of them.
Almost everyone agrees that the quality of college education in America is in a serious state of decline. The goal is to get these kids through the system and to keep collecting the big tuition checks.
When I was in school, I could hardly believe how little was being required of me. But being as lazy as I was, I certainly did not complain.
If only more parents realized what was really going on.
The following are some facts about the quality of college education in the United States from a USA Today article….
-“After two years in college, 45% of students showed no significant gains in learning; after four years, 36% showed little change.”
-“Students also spent 50% less time studying compared with students a few decades ago”
-“35% of students report spending five or fewer hours per week studying alone.”
-“50% said they never took a class in a typical semester where they wrote more than 20 pages”
-“32% never took a course in a typical semester where they read more than 40 pages per week.”
Are you starting to get the picture?
If you are in college right now, enjoy the good times while they last, because when you graduate you will find that there are very few good jobs available for the hordes of new college graduates that are pouring into the labor market.
For a new college graduate, things can be rather depressing. Just consider the following statistics….
*About a third of all college graduates end up taking jobs that don’t even require college degrees.
*In the United States today, there are more than 100,000 janitors that have college degrees.
*In the United States today, 317,000 waiters and waitresses have college degrees.
There are millions of college graduates that are unemployed in America today. There are millions of others that have been forced to take very low paying jobs because that is all they can get.
It is no coincidence that incomes for households led by someone between the ages of 25 and 34 have fallen by about 12 percent after you adjust for inflation since the year 2000.
Young people in America are under intense financial pressure right now.
Many are unable to make it at all and have moved back in with Mom and Dad. As I wrote about recently, approximately 25 million American adults are living with their parents at this point.
The system of higher education in this country is badly broken and it desperately needs to be fixed.
So do you have a solution to these problems or do you have a student loan debt horror story to share?
Please feel free to leave a comment with your opinion below….
In the United States today, unemployment among those age 18 to age 34 is at epidemic levels and the number of young adults that are now living at home with Mom and Dad is at an all-time high. So why are so many of our young adults jobless? Why are record numbers of them unable or unwilling to move out on their own? Well, there are quite a few factors at work. Number one, our education system has completely and totally failed them. As I have written about previously, our education system is a joke and most high school graduates these days are simply not prepared to function at even a very basic level in our society. In addition, college education in the United States has become a giant money making scam that leaves scores of college graduates absolutely drowning in debt. Many young adults end up moving back in with Mom and Dad because they are drowning in so much debt that there are no other options. Thirdly, the number of good jobs continues to decline and this is hitting younger Americans the hardest. Millions of young people enter the workforce excited about the future only to find that there are hordes of applicants for the very limited number of decent jobs that are actually available. So all of this is creating an environment where more young adults are financially dependent on their parents that ever before in modern American history.
Since the start of the recession, the percentage of young adults in America that are employed has dropped like a rock. In 2007, the employment rate for Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 was 62.4 percent. Today, it is down to 54.3 percent.
Yes, there are certainly many out there that are lazy, but the truth is that most of them would like to work if they could. It is just that it is much harder to find a job these days.
And it isn’t just young people that think that the job market has gotten tougher. According to one recent survey, 82 percent of all Americans believe that it is harder for young adults to find jobs today than it was for their parents to find jobs.
But if they cannot get jobs, then young adults cannot financially support themselves. So more of them than ever are heading back home to live with Mom and Dad.
In the year 2000, 8.3 percent of all American women between the ages of 25 and 34 were living at home with their parents. Today, that figure is up to 9.7 percent.
In the year 2000, 12.9 percent of all American men between the ages of 25 and 34 were living at home with their parents. Today, that figure is up to an astounding 18.6 percent.
Take a moment and let those statistics sink in.
Nearly one out of every five American men from age 25 to age 34 are living at home with Mommy and Daddy.
When you look at Americans age 18 to age 24, it is even worse. Among Americans age 18 to age 24, 50 percent of all women and 59 percent of all men still live with their parents.
Those are very frightening numbers.
Part of this has to do with a fundamental cultural shift. An increasing number of parents these days expect that they will have to take care of their own children beyond the age of 22. The following is from a recent article by Pew Research….
When asked in a 1993 survey what age children should be financially independent from their parents, 80% of parents said children have to be self-reliant by age 22. In the current survey, only 67% of parents say children have to be financially independent by age 22—a drop of 13 percentage points.
But what accounts for the tremendous gender disparity that we see in the figures above?
Well, one major factor is that young women are now far more likely to pursue a college education than young men are. According to an article in the New York Times, women now account for approximately 57 percent of all enrollments at U.S. colleges and universities.
The less education you have, the more likely you are to be unemployed in America today. So that is certainly a significant factor.
But many that have gone on to college are also moving back home. When you are a young adult with no job and no prospects and you are swamped with tens of thousands of dollars of student loan debt, it can be incredibly difficult to be financially independent.
After adjusting for inflation, U.S. college students are now borrowing about twice as much money as they did a decade ago. Many students that go on to graduate school end up with more than $100,000 in total student loan debt.
Sadly, those degrees often do not pay off. In fact, in America today one-third of all college graduates end up taking jobs that don’t even require college degrees.
So what does all of this mean?
It means that there are millions upon millions of angry, disillusioned and frustrated young adults out there today. A recent USA Today article told the story of 32-year-old Dennis Hansen….
After a year without work, Hansen, 32, was hired to monitor Lake Michigan and Lake Superior water for the state and federal governments over two summers. He also had short stints as a census worker and as an extra post office hand during one holiday crush.
It hasn’t been enough: Hansen says he has a $13,000 credit card debt and that’s just for basics — his $600 monthly mortgage, heat and food.
“It’s definitely a roller coaster,” Hansen says, with the ups coming when he’s done well in a job interview and the downs when there’s a rejection: “That’s when I’m frustrated, angry and wondering why I went to college for 10 years.”
If the economy was humming along on all cylinders, it would be easy to blame our young adults for being too lazy.
But these days most young adults have to scramble like crazy just to get a really low paying job. Large numbers of very talented young adults are waiting tables, flipping burgers or stocking shelves at Wal-Mart.
And this reality is reflected in the overall economic statistics. Since the year 2000, incomes for U.S. households led by someone between the ages of 25 and 34 have fallen by about 12 percent after you adjust for inflation.
The “wealth gap” between younger Americans and older Americans is also growing and recently hit a new all-time high. U.S. households led by someone 65 years of age or older are now 47 times wealthier than U.S. households led by someone 35 years of age or younger.
But this is not good for our society. When there is civil unrest, it is not those 65 and older that take to the streets.
We desperately need our economy to get healthy again so that our young adults can get good jobs, get married, set up households, raise families and be productive members of society.
Instead, the percentage of young adults that have jobs is near an all-time low, the percentage of young adults living with their parents is at an all-time high, the proportion of adults in the United States that are married is at an all-time low and we have hordes of angry, frustrated young adults with plenty of time on their hands.
You don’t have to be a genius to see trouble on the horizon.
What is going to happen when the next major financial crisis comes and the economy gets significantly worse than it is now?
In the end, we are going to reap what we have sown. We have fundamentally failed our young adults, and those failures are going to produce some very bitter fruit.
Is going to college a worthwhile investment? Is the education that our young people are receiving at our colleges and universities really worth all of the time, money and effort that is required? Decades ago, a college education was quite inexpensive and it was almost an automatic ticket to the middle class. But today all of that has changed. At this point, college education is a big business. There are currently more than 18 million students enrolled at the nearly 5,000 colleges and universities currently in operation throughout the United States. There are quite a few “institutions of higher learning” that now charge $40,000 or even $50,000 a year for tuition. That does not even count room and board and other living expenses. Meanwhile, as you will see from the statistics posted below, the quality of education at our colleges and universities has deteriorated badly. When graduation finally arrives, many of our college students have actually learned very little, they find themselves unable to get good jobs and yet they end up trapped in student loan debt hell for essentially the rest of their lives.
Across America today, “guidance counselors” are pushing millions of high school students to go to the very best colleges that they can get into, but they rarely warn them about how much it is going to cost or about the sad reality that they could end up being burdened by massive debt loads for decades to come.
Yes, college is a ton of fun and it is a really unique experience. If you can get someone else to pay for it then you should definitely consider going.
There are also many careers which absolutely require a college degree. Depending on your career goals, you may not have much of a choice of whether to go to college or not.
But that doesn’t mean that you have to go to student loan debt hell.
You don’t have to go to the most expensive school that you can get into.
You don’t have to take out huge student loans.
There is no shame in picking a school based on affordability.
The truth is that pretty much wherever you go to school the quality of the education is going to be rather pathetic. A highly trained cat could pass most college courses in the United States today.
Personally, I have had the chance to spend quite a number of years on college campuses. I enjoyed my time and I have some pretty pieces of parchment to put up on the wall. I have seen with my own eyes what goes on at our institutions of higher learning. In a previous article, I described what life is like for most “average students” enrolled in our colleges and universities today….
The vast majority of college students in America spend two to four hours a day in the classroom and maybe an hour or two outside the classroom studying. The remainder of the time these “students” are out drinking beer, partying, chasing after sex partners, going to sporting events, playing video games, hanging out with friends, chatting on Facebook or getting into trouble. When they say that college is the most fun that most people will ever have in their lives they mean it. It is basically one huge party.
If you are a parent and you are shelling out tens of thousands of dollars every year to pay for college you need to know the truth.
You are being ripped off.
Sadly, a college education just is not that good of an investment anymore. Tuition costs have absolutely skyrocketed even as the quality of education has plummeted.
A college education is not worth getting locked into crippling student loan payments for the next 30 years.
Even many university professors are now acknowledging that student loan debt has become a horrific societal problem. Just check out what one professor was quoted as saying in a recent article in The Huffington Post….
“Thirty years ago, college was a wise, modest investment,” says Fabio Rojas, a professor of sociology at Indiana University. He studies the politics of higher education. “Now, it’s a lifetime lock-in, an albatross you can’t escape.”
Anyone that is thinking of going to college needs to do a cost/benefit analysis.
Is it really going to be worth it?
For some people the answer will be “yes” and for some people the answer will be “no”.
But sadly, hardly anyone that goes to college these days gets a “good” education.
To get an idea of just how “dumbed down” we have become as a nation, just check out this Harvard entrance exam from 1869.
I wouldn’t have a prayer of passing that exam.
What about you?
We really do need to rethink our approach to higher education in this country.
Posted below are 21 statistics about college tuition, student loan debt and the quality of college education in the United States….
#1 Since 1978, the cost of college tuition in the United States has gone up by over 900 percent.
#2 In 2010, the average college graduate had accumulated approximately $25,000 in student loan debt by graduation day.
#3 Approximately two-thirds of all college students graduate with student loans.
#4 Americans have accumulated well over $900 billion in student loan debt. That figure is higher than the total amount of credit card debt in the United States.
#5 The typical U.S. college student spends less than 30 hours a week on academics.
#6 According to very extensive research detailed in a new book entitled “Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses”, 45 percent of U.S. college students exhibit “no significant gains in learning” after two years in college.
#7 Today, college students spend approximately 50% less time studying than U.S. college students did just a few decades ago.
#8 35% of U.S. college students spend 5 hours or less studying per week.
#9 50% of U.S. college students have never taken a class where they had to write more than 20 pages.
#10 32% of U.S. college students have never taken a class where they had to read more than 40 pages in a week.
#11 U.S. college students spend 24% of their time sleeping, 51% of their time socializing and 7% of their time studying.
#12 Federal statistics reveal that only 36 percent of the full-time students who began college in 2001 received a bachelor’s degree within four years.
#13 Nearly half of all the graduate science students enrolled at colleges and universities in the United States are foreigners.
#14 According to the Economic Policy Institute, the unemployment rate for college graduates younger than 25 years old was 9.3 percent in 2010.
#15 One-third of all college graduates end up taking jobs that don’t even require college degrees.
#16 In the United States today, over 18,000 parking lot attendants have college degrees.
#17 In the United States today, 317,000 waiters and waitresses have college degrees.
#18 In the United States today, approximately 365,000 cashiers have college degrees.
#19 In the United States today, 24.5 percent of all retail salespersons have a college degree.
#20 Once they get out into the “real world”, 70% of college graduates wish that they had spent more time preparing for the “real world” while they were still in school.
#21 Approximately 14 percent of all students that graduate with student loan debt end up defaulting within 3 years of making their first student loan payment.
There are millions of young college graduates running around out there that are wondering where all of the “good jobs” are. All of their lives they were promised that if they worked really hard and got good grades that the system would reward them.
Sometimes when you do everything right you still can’t get a job. A while back The Huffington Post featured the story of Kyle Daley – a highly qualified UCLA graduate who had been unemployed for 19 months at the time….
I spent my time at UCLA preparing for the outside world. I had internships in congressional offices, political action committees, non-profits and even as a personal intern to a successful venture capitalist. These weren’t the run-of-the-mill office internships; I worked in marketing, press relations, research and analysis. Additionally, the mayor and city council of my hometown appointed me to serve on two citywide governing bodies, the planning commission and the open government commission. I used to think that given my experience, finding work after graduation would be easy.
At this point, however, looking for a job is my job. I recently counted the number of job applications I have sent out over the past year — it amounts to several hundred. I have tried to find part-time work at local stores or restaurants, only to be turned away. Apparently, having a college degree implies that I might bail out quickly when a better opportunity comes along.
The sad truth is that a college degree is not an automatic ticket to the middle class any longer.
But for millions of young Americans a college degree is an automatic ticket to student loan debt hell.
Student loan debt is one of the most insidious forms of debt. You can’t get away from student loan debt no matter what you do. Federal bankruptcy law makes it nearly impossible to discharge student loan debts, and many recent grads end up with loan payments that absolutely devastate them financially at a time when they are struggling to get on their feet and make something of themselves.
So are you still sure that you want to go to college?
Another open secret is that most of our colleges and universities are little more than indoctrination centers. Most people would be absolutely shocked at how much unfiltered propaganda is being pounded into the heads of our young people.
At most colleges and universities, when it comes to the “big questions” there is a “right answer” and there is virtually no discussion of any other alternatives.
In most fields there is an “orthodoxy” that you had better adhere to if you want to get good grades.
Let’s just say that “independent thought” and “critical thinking” are not really encouraged at most of our institutions of higher learning.
Am I bitter because I didn’t do well? No, I actually did extremely well in school. I have seen the system from the inside. I know how it works.
It is a giant fraud.
If you want to go to college because you want to have a good time or because it will help you get your career started then by all means go for it.
Just realize what you are signing up for.