To read about F's and my London trip, start here and click "newer post" to continue the story.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

College Grad Can't Find Job, Wants $$$ Back

She went to college to boost her chances of finding a great job once she got out of school, but now that that hasn't happened, Trina Thompson wants her money back.

Thompson, a graduate of Monroe College, is suing her school for the $70,000 she spent on tuition because she hasn't found solid employment since receiving her bachelor's degree in April, according to a published report.

I may be the only person in the US who feels this way - but I kind of support her in this.

First of all, the student loan situation is a nightmare for a whole lot of people. Kids - and I say "kids" because many of them are 18 or younger - and their parents are promised "financial aid" but then the "aid" turns out to be loans that you have to pay back. And the schools and loan brokers promise them unicorns and rainbows once they get that degree. Well, if you're majoring in something like pharmacy, and you finish, you'll have your pick of high-paying jobs lined up. (Unless health care reform screws that up, and it could happen.) Otherwise, you're no different than any other person out there with a degree looking for a job, except that now you have this tremendous debt burden. Your parents, if they borrow money, are even worse off, because nothing is expected to change for them so that they have more money - and if they didn't have it for your tuition, they aren't going to have it later.

But people get snookered into these loans, probably because everyone they know is doing the same thing. Does that sound like the housing bubble, with an incredible number of people taking on debt they can't support to buy an overpriced product?

The girl in the story studied information systems, so it's not like she majored in women's studies or some other what-were-you-thinking subject.

The question is frequently raised, why does tuition cost so much. It goes up and up and up every year, well ahead of COL and things like that. And then one reads about extra programs that big schools offer, that cost a lot of money, because supposedly the kids and parents demand them.

What is the mechanism for a high school student or his or her parents demanding programs in universities that they will then have to offer their firstborn to pay for?

No, it's that if money can be got, a way will be found to spend it. Parents and working students are willing to cough up X to pay for college. If that's all there is, a college education will cost X. If the government steps in and offers Y, then magically the college education will cost X + Y. If it's expected, and accepted, that loans to Z amount can and will be gotten, then the education will cost X + Y + Z. Then you get the whole student-loan thing, which became parent loans too, and tuition costs skyrocket.

Unless you go to a modest state school, without the prestige of the Ivy League name, and where the classes are taught by professors and not by TAs who are concentrating on getting their own degrees while the professors are doing research and so on. F went to such a school, on an academic scholarship that covered everything except a very modest bit which we were able to kick in with no trouble. She doesn't have an Ivy League degree, but she does have a degree and a job, and is debt-free except for her car loan.

I think one of these days people are going to wake up, like they've had to wake up about the housing market. Lawsuits like the one Trina Thompson is bringing hopefully will speed this up. It would be good if people stop and think, think critically, before they blunder into that student loan trap. Much better for the tuition bubble to be corrected that way, than for there to be another bank crisis and another government bailout - although from what I read it may be too late.


Concerned Blood Donor said...

Nowadays it's hard to find a job because of the recession. There are many got unemployed and seeking job now. As a worker, I am also a blood donor to help on my daily needs. I think this is a very big help for the students who are seeking for a part time job now or got unpaid internship and especially it is summer time which are some of us need extra income. I'm donating for 2 years now and it really helps because every donation I make up to $50/hour for blood donation. As we all know, Blood bank shortages kill tons of people all the time and it is the time to spread the word about blood donation and give blood, you will never know when YOU might need blood. This really helpful even it is just a part time job, the bottom line of this is to saved lives.

If you are thinking to be a blood donor and looking for specific blood banks and a directory of blood donation centers you can check it out here at bloodbanker dot com/banks.

theolderepublicke said...

I should say that after several years being a TA and one year being an adjunct instructor, I have grown increasingly ashamed to be part of a system that bilks people out of money for some vague promise of future profits. My adjunct instructor position was at a private college where the cost of tuition was about $9,000 a semester for a full-time student, so students were paying about $2,000 each to take my class, and I don't even have my PHD yet.

I'm glad to have had the very good state-school education (in history). But I'm increasingly disheartened at the types of promises that academe makes to undergraduates.

I'm not very optimistic, though, that the lawsuit will help change things. But maybe I'm wrong....

Anonymous said...


I work for a global discussion radio show and we are talking about this today. Be great to have you on our show. Please email me as soon as possible and I’ll call you to explain how it work.

I've sent an e-mail to your hotmail with my e-mail address.

Thanks – Claudia.

riley said...

Just because you have a certain level of education does not mean that you are right for just any job...

Laura(southernxyl) said...

TOR, thanks for your honesty.

I think a lot of stuff goes on at universities that parents who are shelling out the big dough have no clue about - see here for instance. They certainly don't understand that the big-name professors at those expensive schools will likely never cross paths with their kids.

I've thought about this a little more. I think there are probably three main reasons why people go to colleges and universaries.

1 - To be a cultured, educated person. This is a great goal. It should absolutely not be attained by borrowing money to go to school. If you have a lot of money and want to pursue a college degree for general enrichment, great, otherwise go to the library (or the internet).

2 - To get credentials for a job that pays well. Here, if you know what you're doing, it might make sense to borrow money for school - but you must have some idea of how likely you are to get a job, what it will pay, and that you'll be able to pay back your loans without their being too burdensome. There are physicians who report that they will be paying back student loans for the rest of their lives. That is ridiculous.

3 - Because all of your friends are going, because your parents expect it (see "The Graduate), because you don't want to get a job yet, to extend your youth ... all dreadful reasons to go to college in the first place, and absolutely dreadful reasons to go into debt to go to college.

... Riley, I agree, but I don't know what your comment is in reference to.

BTW, I did participate in a live radio broadcast from the BBC in London today. Kinda cool. I love the internet.

Kate P said...

I was wondering if you did the radio show! Cool.

Yeah, I'm wondering if she's not getting any leads, or if she's just failing the interview part, or what. I have to admit, I interview well and most positions I've had were found in a roundabout way (heard about from a family member, casual mention, etc.). I don't think a school could ever guarantee employment. Too many variables.

I felt my grad school promised a career change would be easy, but then I felt a bit abandoned post-graduation. But I stayed on them and got the most out of the career center and posed as many questions as I could to them and to my former professors. A lot of schools have become "self-service" oriented, IMO, and that may apply to getting the most out of job-seeking services as well.

Sam Kerr said...

I honestly think your opinions are ridiculous.

You go to school for an education, not a job.

It is your own responsibility to get a job. Schools can (and should) help, but they are in no way obligated to.

Schools provide a service: education. Not job placement.

If this girl can give back her education and all the skills she learned, she may have a valid point.

As it is, she paid for and received an education.

She did not pay for job placement.

Laura(southernxyl) said...

Sam, are you sure about that? Do you know what expectations the school gave her? Unless you were there, you don't know.

My daughter was accepted at a pharmacy school. She ultimately chose not to go. But they definitely made representations to her as to her employability with the degree, the amount of money she could expect to make, and how long it would take her to pay off her student loans. Of course, it would have been her name on the dotted line, not theirs, so they could say anything they wanted.

Finally, don't you think it's just a bit rude to go on a blog maintained by someone you don't know, with whom you do not have any kind of relationship or history of back-and-forth, and say, not, "I disagree," but "I honestly think your opinions are ridiculous."?

R said...

Rude is exactly the correct word for Mr. Kerr’s comment.
Unfortunately, concepts like “rude”, “manners”, and “civil discourse” have been done away with.

class-factotum said...

I heard this story on Rush the other day and I agree with you. I am usually against most civil suits, but my first thought on hearing this story was, "Who pays $70,000 to go to a fourth-rate college?"

This place looks like a scam. After six years, only about 1/2 of their full-time students have graduated.

I would be ticked off, too.

Anonymous said...

the crux of this isssue is the nonbankruptability of the loans.

student loans are not dischargable except in extreme circumstances-

this has two bad outcomes

1) it makes the loans safe for lenders and makes them willing to lend-even when the loan wouldn't be wise to give if the loan wer subject to normalk3(say a humanites private school degee) this cuases the number of people going to school to increase becuase as elnders are more willing to give, the more students have acess to these loans for worthless educations. the effect of this higher demand is a higer price for school. this in turn leads to higher loans-and so on in an inflationary spiral.

2. its a life sentence to debt for those who will never have a ay out. often students must borrow privatly for school b/c public loans are not enough. these loans often give very limited forbearance or deferrals for unemployment or very limited income, and simp4ly defualt when the student cant pay-regardless of why. even students who become disabled end up with this burdcen often or it goes on the cosinger upon death or a rare bankruptcy that is upheld. (even if by suicide from the debt burden itself the parents will end up paying)

now im not suggesting that student loans be bankruptable like all others-(there was abuse when they wwere as student immidialy declared bankrupcy after school) however, banckrupcy should be an option after a certain number of years.

there is a clear middle position here to make these loans bankruptable AFTER a certian number of years.

this will reduce the safty of loans-reduce willingness to lend-and thus reduc e loans to those for educatiosn they cant afford. this is the economic benifit

the other benifit is that its eqautable and fair.

so its both economically logical and emotionally satisfying---qonly problem is its not politically satisfying.

Laura(southernxyl) said...

anonymous, good points.

I wonder what would happen if schools had to give out stats on employment and average salary, 2 years after graduation, broken out by major. If Student X who is fascinated by Y studies finds out that Y studies majors are 65% unemployed two years out, and those who are employed are making $10/hour, he or she might think twice about taking on debt for a Y studies degree.