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A Reason to Skip College and Save MoneyResearch Paper

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¶ … College and Its Effects on the American Dream

The increasing cost of college is obliterating the American Dream. It is now to such a point where that dream is now a nightmare. Student loan debt in the U.S. now equals 1.3 trillion dollars and there are roughly 7 million borrowers who have not made a single payment on their student loans in over a year (Durden, "7 Million People Haven't Made a Single Student Loan Payment in at Least a Year"). Worse, these loans which are not being paid back make up half of the United States government's "assets" -- meaning these bad debts are on the books as somehow having value (Durden, "Student Debt Accounts for Nearly Half of U.S. Government Assets"). Thus, not only are students underwater on their loans, the government is even more underwater that it lets on because it marks such loans as assets (because in the modern financial era debt is somehow the same as, say, something like gold or silver). If this is the American Dream, Americans need to wake up. The price of college tuition has exploded in recent years as, like everything else (health care, insurance, housing), greed sets in and the "business" aspect of the industry takes over whatever "other" purpose the sector was supposed to perform. Thus schooling is no longer about education, it is about making money for the University. Housing is no longer about finding affordable shelter, it is about the NAR and Freddie and Fannie getting the cut they feel they deserve. Health care is not about health or care but about Big Pharma cashing in (Gibney). This paper will show why increasing college costs are helping to destroy the American Dream.

Douglas Webber finds that "when the financial costs of attending college are high (defined here as roughly $30,000 per year), the gains from attending college are far more tenuous, particularly among those with below median ability and those pursuing an Arts/Humanities degree" (Webber 1). In short, college is no longer worth it for the increasingly shrinking middle class. Forget studying something about culture, humanity, or what makes humans act the way they do. A degree in this field is not likely to land you a high-paying job, and at the core of the American Dream is the idea that one can make a lot of money, be successful, by a house, have a car (or two) and raise a family. That Dream is shattered in the wake of a phony economy that keeps getting worse, while every cartel in the America tries to milk the very last drops of juice out of middle America before the last quake hits sending the country into apocalyptic times.

With college tuitions rising and the job market shrinking, there is a significant chance that a great many students will be left with a bill that they simply cannot afford. Debt over one's eyeballs is certainly nowhere close to being the American Dream; therefore, one has to wonder why one would even go to college? The problem is that the jobs market is cornered and hedged in by the college cartel. No one is hiring unless you can present your credentials -- which means a college diploma that you likely paid a hefty fee to get. It does not matter whether or not you actually learned anything at the university (as it milked you for hundreds of credit hours for general studies requirements such as art appreciation, theater, or gender theory) because the jobs market is only looking for the certificate. Indeed, with greater demand for jobs, having a degree is no real guarantee that you will even land a position in the career you are targeting. Thus, left without a job and student loan debts, the average graduate turns to the service sector to make ends meet -- because "if not properly managed, student debt can impair access to other credit markets, making it more difficult for students to borrow money to purchase assets such as houses" (Hershbein, Hollenbeck 140). Thus, college can actually become an impairment to the American Dream of wealth, prosperity, and security. Lured by the hook of financial independence, millions of students sign up for classes that they are only able to afford because the federal government puts up the money. If students had to pay out of pocket for college, the admissions levels would drop off drastically. The American Dream was never about going into debt in order to achieve financial independence. Debt is financial slavery. Students are effectively being manipulated into wage slaves by the very institutions which are supposed to help them achieve the Dream, not end it permanently for them.

Suzanne Mettler notes how "until the 1970s, the United States had a proud history of promoting higher education for its citizens" (2). What happened at the end of the 20th century, however, was the rise of government-assisted Big Business -- whereas before in the post-War era, it had been government-assisted programs that benefited the middle class (thus, one reason the middle class rose to prominence again, following the Depression). Today, the cartels are in control -- in health, education, agriculture, and manufacturing. As Matthew Johnson notes, "tuition subsidies are necessary to obtain larger increases" in educational attainment today -- the costs are expenses are simply too high otherwise (Johnson 669). For this reason, there is talk in the public forums about the need to forgive student loan debt. But who will that negatively impact? The average tax payer, of course. Debts are never forgiven, they are simply paid back by raiding the coffers of things like Social Security -- but that is nearly depleted now too. In effect, the Dream is already crumbling all around: America was not supposed to become a third world country -- and yet everywhere one looks, bubbles are exploding -- in housing, in manufacturing, in oil, in finance. Cities like Chicago and bankrupt and turning into veritable war zones. The America of yesteryear is gone.

And yet the colleges and universities remain as though they alone held the keys to future success. This is, by all accounts, largely a myth, as millions of students risk defaulting on their loans before can even dream of paying them back. Derek Bok notes that "in the modern world, colleges and universities have assumed an importance far beyond their role in earlier times" (1), but that assumption needs to challenged for it is one that is undeserved. With college tuition rates soaring, rising by an average of 15% every five years since 1990s (and sometimes more) ("Annual Survey of Colleges"), one must ask: is it the dollar that no longer commands value? Or are colleges simply exploiting their place of prominence in the American landscape, promising Dreams yet delivering only the doorway to debt?

In fact, it is both: the economic crash of 2008 revealed the tendency of the Federal Reserve to continue with its policy of Quantitative Easing through the printing of cash (meaning more debt for the U.S. people -- actually, one can look at the rise of inflation from the creation of the Fed in 1913 till now just to see how the dollar has been devalued for a century since the creation of the Fed), and that has led to the dollar losing value even further, contributing to the vicious cycle that keeps institutions like colleges hiking their rates year over year. At the same time, colleges know that individuals cannot get good-paying jobs without earning a degree, so they dangle that over the heads of young people eager to make their way in the world, yet if they were really there to help, they would charge a fraction of the cost that they do, and require only a fraction of the classes needed to graduate. The accreditation industry, however, has that gambit sewed up in a bag -- thus illustrating how insidious the relationship between government and business (and education, which is now mainly just a business) actually has become. Private institutions must pay their accreditation fees just so they can "look" legit.

The question is: are employers even caring anymore if one has his degree? With so many "educated" twenty-somethings hitting the jobs market unable to pen an effective essay or analyze an assessments report, managers may be finding that it is not what you "know" (according to your degree) but what you show. Thus, it might be time for students to set about changing the paradigm: it is up to them to seek out the Dream if they want it. If they can prove to employers that they can do a job just as well as any college graduate -- why chase that debt-burden? Young people today should consider that it is up to them to pursue the American Dream in a new way, one that is not controlled by any cartel.

In conclusion, the American Dream has been co-opted out to the business-government-education cartel, just as medicine and health… [END OF PREVIEW]

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