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Jim Mullen: Scam U.

Jim Mullen • Updated Sep 29, 2017 at 4:00 PM

College is a scam. There are a thousand reasons why I’m saying this, but maybe this is the best one: Would you buy anything else for $200,000 or more that you couldn’t return and get your money back? Don’t like the Ferrari? Give it back. Don’t like your house? Sell it. Your kid comes out of college dumber than he or she went in? Tough. 

I live near a town with a community college. Monday night, I drove down that town’s main street and saw several freshman-aged couples walking hand in hand. The semester is only 10 days old and already they’ve managed to fit in orientation, a few classes and a main squeeze. I wonder how those relationships will turn out? No doubt it’s true love. 

Then I saw a car go by with four freshman-aged students in it. It had a license plate from eight states away. This is a community college. There had to be a place closer to home that offers the same or better courses than this one. No, these kids chose the College of Getting as Far Away From My Parents as I Can. If they were paying for it, do you think they might have made a different choice? If the parents pay for everything, why try harder? Gee, I can’t wait to hire a kid that just bought a degree and spent the last six years (no one graduates in four years anymore) binge drinking and dating. Then again, it sounds like Enron and Equifax did just that.

How would you get kicked out of community college? Apparently, it is not possible. You can set fire to your dorm room (excuse me, dorm condo), rape, pillage and steal, and the most that will happen is that the student will get a hard talking to and a bill for damages. Of course they won’t kick you out; you’re the goose that lays the golden eggs. Well, not you the student, but you the parent of the student. 

Banks now pay fines for laundering drug money and for opening fraudulent accounts, and no one goes to jail. Just like college. I wonder if there’s a connection? Score one for being college “educated.”

The professors, who now get graded by the students, are paid the same as they were 10 years ago, or even less. The college administrators make all the money. Their main job is to raise money to pay themselves more money because they raised more money. 

Meanwhile, try to hire a plumber. Are you sure you want a plumber, mister? Don’t you really want a fine arts or a poli-sci major to come over and tell you that you are the problem, not your toilet?

If the idea of a college education is to make more money, let’s do the math. If the parents had bought $200,000 of Amazon stock a year ago, they would have made $42,000. Add even a minimum wage job to that, and I think most 18-year-olds would be quite happy.

Scam U. won’t tell you that there are plenty of high-paying jobs that don’t call for college degrees. A stockbroker needs a license, not a degree. A real estate broker needs a license, not a degree. In some states, that takes three days. Plumbers, electricians, mechanics and contractors need licenses, not degrees. Some professions do need degrees and advanced degrees -- doctors, nurses, lawyers, physicists, engineers -- but how many times have you ever said, “I need a creative writer!” Or, “Quick, get me an English lit major!” Really? You paid $50,000 a year for that degree when there’s a free library down the street? The one you’ve never been inside before? 

My neighbor has a 10-year-old. How much will this ridiculous system cost when he is college-age? Employers who won’t interview people without degrees for jobs that don’t need them should step up to the plate and say, “We hire talent -- not diplomas.” Think of the money that would save.

Contact Jim Mullen at mullen.jim@gmail.com.

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