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How About a College Degree in 3 years? U.S. now looking into it

February 25, 2009

Yahoo’s article on 3 year college degrees sparked a good deal of discussion in our house.

I have long thought that the college degree that takes 4 years, now 5-6 being the norm in our country places us far behind the other industrialized nations worldwide that crank out degrees in 3 years as far as world competition goes.  There seems to be no reason for the 4 year degree, and I can’t even begin to get behind the 5 year degree, it being a bloated reflection of the overimportance of ego among administrators and policymakers.  The sad thing is that for most of those administrators, the 4 year degree was the norm, but I have heard it said over and over that our students “really aren’t prepared.”  I think that’s a crock of shit.

Sure, if we want a socialist educational system that only allows the most successful book study people to go to college while the rest work menial jobs the rest of their lives, we should subscribe to the constant whine of professors and administrators that our students are not “prepared.”  This is seconded only by business leaders and policymakers who continually complain about the next generation being underprepared.

What these people don’t realize is that educating everyone in this country is hard work.  None of them have spent much time in a classroom, and those that have continually wax on about how much students benefit from more classes.  I think this is called stuffing your own ballot.  It’s like the doctors prescribing medicine that they have helped develop (which they do and I am against that as well), but really, it’s not the basis of a logical argument.

Aside from the generational divide element present in all these discussions, one could make the logical argument that more of our nation than ever is educated, with population levels rising, as well as literacy rates.  What we don’t have is system in place that employs people without a college degree, those who don’t want to attend school but are dumped in with the college crowd anyway.  Far more people are seeking degrees now, but still the educators complain that no one is compared.  I would mention here that no one comes wholly prepared for any class, hence the term teach, but it would sound too much like wholesale bitching on my part.

The other comment I hear put out by teachers and administrators alike is that college is part of the experience, and taking extra classes is part of the experience.  I felt 10 years ago, and still feel, that I am well and open to experiences as long as they are not foisted upon me in the form of retractable policies up for change any given semester with the carrot of a monetary-enhancing degree ( supposedly, my moniker is no lie).  It can also be said that students have the pleasure of paying for all these extra classes, and it has been roundly proclaimed throughout the news that college tuition costs are rising.  (See my own post on this.)  College tuition rates have doubled each year, well above the rate of inflation.

So, we have inflated class schedules, less full-time instructors, inflated degrees for inflated costs, and the students have no choice.  Where is the value in that?  Students have started to rebel by insisting that they deserve a B just for showing up.  All the while, instructors who have tenure proclaim it to be the best for education, while adjuncts suffer on wages of roughly $3.50/hour in comparison with $41.66/hour for full-time instructors. The people who have the decision-making power are the ones raking in the cash. It’s staggering the amount of flaws in this system.

What do I propose?  I propose we work toward a 3-year degree. I predict that college tuition will have to come down.  College tuition, like the housing market, was inflated to begin with, as the numbers show.  If we work toward a 3 year degree, maybe the universities can actually accomplish something in 4.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Mike permalink
    November 18, 2009 2:08 pm

    For what it’s worth, Hong Kong– a territory that is sitting on a mountain of cash, not debt as the USA is– currently has a 3-year degree program and is converting it to a 4-year program starting in 2012.

    I’m happy to say I teach in HK, not the USA. Go and do likewise.

    • brokeharvardgrad permalink*
      November 18, 2009 4:49 pm

      I have friends who have lived in Hong Kong for years and love it. Do you like the living situation? In other words, is the trip worth the lifestyle changes? Is it better?

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