Tsoo Tsoon to be a Tsunami

Andrew Gillen at the Texas Public Policy Foundation says “Two Tsunamis are About to Hit Higher Education,” when :..the Department of Education released post graduate earnings and debt data broken down by college program — which will have a revolutionary impact on higher education.”

A bit of poking around on the web gets you to the TPPF webpage College Earnings and Debt, which ranks hundreds of degree programs by median student debt and after-graduation income.  It’s a nice interactive database, where you can compare programs among multiple colleges, or for a single college.

GIllen touts this information (he calls it the Gainful Employment Equivalent) as a game-changer for selecting college degree programs.

For years we’ve asked students to make one of life’s most important decisions essentially blindfolded. We’ve told them a college degree is the surest path to success but have given them little guidance on where to go to college or what major to choose once they get there. As a result, too many students leave with a mountain of debt and a credential that isn’t worth much on the labor market. The new data will help equip students — and their parents — with the information necessary to avoid these costly mistakes in several ways.

…the data will help students avoid risky programs within generally non-risky fields or colleges. Of the universities in the top 5 of the US News and World report college rankings, Harvard and Yale both had one program fail, and Columbia has 10 programs that fail. Helping students avoid these financial bad apples will help all students by keeping the pressure on individual academic programs, not allowing them to coast on a college’s (or field’s) reputation.

GEE-UTSA
Best Value Degree Programs at my school, UTSA (OPEID 010115)

Hey, the data is impressive, but don’t expect revolutionary change in our established preschool-to-penury pipeline.  The institutional inertia and 20th Century received wisdom that A College Degree Equals Success will pooh-pooh the idea of value shopping for a college degree.

Methodologically, the database has some glaring deficiencies, some of which will be remedied over time, as more data becomes available*:

  • it’s only one year’s worth of data*
  • it’s based solely on students who received federal financial aid*
  • some degree programs have zero information*
  • the statistics presented (median debt and debt-to-earnings ratio) are presented without any error estimates, rendering the summaries a bit sketchy.  Hey TPPF hackers, can you spell b-o-o-t-s-t-r-a-p?

Still, this is great first effort, and I look forward to refinements in the GEE summaries.  But don’t expect a tsunami.

Tip from the Instapundit, where most commenters respond with variations of “Well, duh.”

 

College is Vastly Overrated

Charles Cook thinks College Does Not Make You a Better Person.

In a 1780 letter to Abigail, John Adams wrote that he “must study Politicks and War that my sons may have liberty to study Mathematicks and Philosophy,” while his “sons ought to study Mathematicks and Philosophy, Geography, natural History, Naval Architecture, navigation, Commerce and Agriculture, in order to give their Children a right to study Painting, Poetry, Musick, Architecture, Statuary, Tapestry and Porcelaine.” There is a great deal in this observation, and, within the context of late-18th-century, mid-revolutionary America, Adams’s assessment was spot-on. Nevertheless, were his words to be taken literally, such a progression would eventually create a society without any food.

I think he’s on to something.

Hey, Hey, Hey! My school made the top 20!

UTSA does it again!  My school was recently reported as being #19 of 20 in sugar babies.

SugarBabies
No, not that kind.

And the term sugar baby indicates a young adult willing to become a compensated protege of an older patron in exchange for unspecified (but easily imagined) personal services.

SugarBabe
This kind.

Somehow I suspect this new ranking for UTSA will not appear in any of the school’s recruitment or outreach materials.

You can teach yourself

Tara Westover gives the Big Reveal about education

My parents would say to me all the time: you can teach yourself anything better than someone else can teach it to you. Which I really think is true. I hate the the word “disempower,” because it seems kind of cliché, but I do think that we take people’s ability to self-teach away by creating this idea that that someone else has to do this for you, that you have to take a course, you have to do it in some formal way.

It took me a long time to learn that you take courses to find out what you don’t know, so you can go study up on it, and organize your self-study.

Tip from Joanne Jacobs, who I’ve neglected lately.

Non-tenure track salaries

I was preparing a data analysis assignment for one of my classes, and decided I needed an example for my students.  Similar to what I’m asking of my students, I wanted to use public employee salary data from the the Texas Tribune Government Salaries Explorer.  After a few moments’ thought* , I hit upon the topic of salaries for non-tenured faculty at the University of Texas at San Antonio, where I teach statistics.

I downloaded the UTSA data–an Excel CSV file–and selected out employees whose job titles contained the words “ADJUNCT”, “LECTURER”, or “TUTOR”, and copied those to a separate worksheet page.  From there on, every bit of my example was done using R, all composed and arranged nicely with RStudio.  The full analysis is here, but look at this interesting graph:

UTSANTTsalaries

  • How the heck do two part-timers in the College of Education and Human Development’s Department of  Educational Leadership and Policy Studies make over $100K annually?  That’s one sweet gig!
  • Working in the Women’s Studies Institute is a vow of poverty.  Should have gone to trade school.
  • The Writing Core Program is almost as bad.  Learn to write advertising copy and move to the College of Business Marketing Department.
  • Part-time NTT economists seem to make more than full-timers.  That doesn’t seem to make make economists credible.

*Thanks for the nudge from a new follower, Adjunct Professors—-Overworked & Underpaid!

Confucius say “Uh oh”

The Confucius Institutes in the US are in the government’s crosshairs:

President Trump is about to sign the new National Defense Authorization Act, which will prohibit funding to Chinese-run Confucius Institutes on American campuses.

Texas Senator Ted Cruz added the key amendment to “The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019,” which also restricts funding to universities that host Confucius Institutes and requires them to provide a public record of any agreements or contracts they have with the program, which has deep ties to the Chinese Communist Party.

This is going to be a bit of a problem at UT San Antonio:

UTSAConfuciusInstitute

Right out of Lenin: “The Capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them.”

Update:  Apparently UTSA has learned from the Confucianists to “embrace the harmony of opposites.”

 

 

The Noble Lie loses its nobility

My workplace has a new President; based on his periodic pronouncements I’ve started calling him President Diversity. Notre Dame’s Professor Patrick Deneen calls this The Ignoble Lie:

Meritocratic ideology disguises the ruling class’s own role in perpetuating inequality from itself, and even fosters a broader social ecology in which those who are not among the ruling class suffer an array of social and economic pathologies that are increasingly the defining feature of ­America’s underclass. Facing up to reality would require hard questions about the agenda underlying commitments to “diversity and inclusion.” Our ­stated commitment to “critical thinking” demands no less, but such questions are likely to be put down—at times violently—on contemporary campuses.