Why Do Universities Charge You Over $100K During Your Course Of Studies, Yet Make You Go Through Application Process?

Submitted by Dmitri Davydov on Thu, 2008-02-28 10:46.

"Dad, they want me to write an essay on 'What would be the title of my autobiography and why," Henry announced on the previous day.

"What a goofy idea…" his father replied helpfully, "Seventeen year olds don't write autobiographies because they don't have anything to say. They haven't done anything yet. Maybe it should be something like 'Blank Slate' or 'Empty Vessel' or something like that."

"Don't you be silly," Elizabeth joined in. "Henry has to get these applications in. And you're just wasting his time. All of these essays are just an opportunity for Henry to sell himself. That's what it is all about - selling yourself to the universities. And you have to go at it seriously or you won't be able to get into a good one. Henry has to take this seriously. So, you should take it seriously too."

By that time, your editor was taking it seriously. He had already come to realize what a serious flimflam the whole thing was.

Selling yourself to a major university is not easy. Apparently, each year thousands and thousands of children sell themselves…cramming for SAT tests…sweating to get good grades…scouring the Internet for a good college essay they can pass off as their own.

And what are they really doing? Why do they work so hard to sell themselves to a prestigious university? If they succeed, what do they get? For most, nothing but the opportunity to spend $150,000…drink beer…and fill their brains with a lot of useless, trivial, nonsensical and just plain wrong claptrap.

"You're right Dad," said Jules, a third-year student in Boston. "I know what I'm doing is a waste of time. I really should pay you back…I mean, it's vaguely interesting…and I don't know what else I'd do now. But it really isn't worth the money."

Jules is studying film.

"What do you actually do?" we wondered.

"Mostly, we watch movies and talk about them. Nothing I couldn't do on my own…by watching movies and reading the film reviews."

Ah, dear readers will say, that's just film, a subject that is notoriously loose and un-serious.

Well, then, take economics. Much more serious, no? It's the only subject we know anything about. And from what we can tell, the study of economics at the university level is a net-negative discipline. We cited some study recently. It told us that people who had taken an economics class did no better on a test of basic economic ideas than people who'd never opened an economics textbook. If they'd tracked these economics students a bit further they would have discovered that it got worse; the longer they stuck with it, the less they knew. The only theories in economics that make any sense are those that are simple, instinctive, and practically common sense. But the more people study economics, the more they come to believe fantasies. By the second year, they think you can boost employment by printing money. By the third year, they commonly think that central banks can control the business cycle…and by the fourth year they believe in the Tooth Fairy.

We studied English literature in college. And then law. A total waste of time, in our opinion. Psychology, sociology…the list of phony disciplines is the list of what modern universities offer - along with new 'disciplines' such as Africana and Gender Studies, Alternative Sexuality, and other folderol. Unless you're studying the sciences, time in university could be better spent on a chain gang.

Still, the education industry has the entire country bamboozled. It puts out a velvet cord, as in a cheap nightclub, and insists that you have to pass through a rigorous selection process to get in. You'd think it would be the other way around. If a student is willing to spend $150,000, you'd think the university would have to stand in line to get the loot. Other luxury industries advertise heavily to get customers. A guy walks into a Tiffany showroom, for example, and is treated with respect. Normally, businesses are so eager for big-spending customers that they fall all over themselves to get them. But not the education business.

"Hey Dad, this one wants to know how I'll contribute to the 'learning community.' It says, 'learning takes place everywhere…not just in the classroom, but on the sports fields, the assembly rooms, the campus lawn, and the food hall. Tell us how you will contribute to the learning community on our campus.'"

And here the conceit of the industry reaches some crescendo. Of course, learning does take place everywhere - in nightclubs, assembly lines, and in the dark sweats of night. And every bit of learning comes at a price…but universities are the only places with the gall to charge you extra for it.

"Henry," came the reply from his father. "We're not paying $40,000 a year so you can talk to the other yahoos on campus. We're paying the money so they can teach you…not so you can teach them. We're paying the money so you can go to class and learn something in a disciplined, logical way. Tell them that if they want you to contribute to the education process out of the classroom, they're going to have to pay you for it."

[Via - Bill Bonner

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