I'm not sure if it meets the Ponzi scheme model, but the problem is this: lots of students are going deeper into debt to get an education that has less and less positive impact on their earning power. So the labor force will be saturated with people having useless skills (given lack of demand, government-driven or otherwise, for people with a standard academic education) and being deep in undischargeable debt.

The inertia of the conventional wisdom ("you've gotta go to college!") is further making the new generation slow to adapt to the reality, ... (Read more)(Click to expand thread. ⌘F to Expand All)Cmd/Ctrl F to expand all comments on this post

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So what is the realistic alternative for those who have no other marketable skills, such as myself? (I specifically don't have a high school diploma, though I suppose it would be trivially easy to nab a GED.)

2Mass_Driver9y Or, it may not pass, and the American educational system may continue to gather detritus until it collapses. Anybody familiar enough with the Chinese Ming dynasty to rationally assess the similarities? I'm not.
6Vive-ut-Vivas9y I wish I could vote this comment up a hundred times. This insane push toward college without much thought about the quality of the education is extremely harmful. People are more focused on slips of paper that signal status versus the actual ability to do things. Not only that, but people are spending tens of thousands of dollars for degrees that are, let's be honest, mostly worthless. Liberal arts and humanities majors are told that their skill set lies in the ability to "think critically"; this is a necessary but not sufficient skill for success in the modern world. (Aside from the fact that their ability to actually "think critically" is dubious in the first place.) In reality, the entire point is networking, but there has to be a more efficient way of doing this that isn't crippling an entire generation with personal debt.

Open Thread June 2010, Part 3

by Kevin 9y14th Jun 20101 min read627 comments

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This thread is for the discussion of Less Wrong topics that have not appeared in recent posts. If a discussion gets unwieldy, celebrate by turning it into a top-level post.

The thrilling conclusion of what is likely to be an inaccurately named trilogy of June Open Threads.