Posts Tagged ‘GI Bill’

The Absurdity of College Costs

September 15, 2015

How did this happen?  Today graduates need to begin their lives saddled with a ridiculous amount of debt.  Parents need to dig into their retirement accounts, either delaying or forgoing retirement, to provide an education for their children.

When I did my undergraduate work at Ohio State University (OSU) college was affordable, and at that time Ohio did not have a state income tax.  Now it does, but students are finding private colleges more affordable than OSU! This is an outrage!  State universities have an obligation to provide an affordable education to its residents.  When a private college can provide a more affordable education, something is seriously wrong.

Colleges and Universities need to be questioned why costs are increasing.  Technology provides the means to reduce costs significantly.  Are the making use of this technology?  Are they using it effectively?  Also remember that colleges and universities avail themselves of cheap labor, namely adjunct faculty and graduate students, who work for ridiculously low wages.

I believe that one of the problems is that colleges and universities have burdened themselves with unnecessarily heavy overheads that contribute virtually nothing directly to education. The problem is that they are bureaucracies, and bureaucracies  grow.  It’s in their nature.  Northcotte Parkinson, famous for his law that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”, is also famous for his study of how  bureaucracies   grow unnecessarily.  I’ve worked in such bureaucracies and have watched this meaningless growth.  Given modern IT, bureaucracies should decrease, but instead they increase.  It’s inherent to bureaucracies to grow themselves.

Moreover, the issue should go beyond affordability.  Higher education should be free.  The results of the GI Bill provide ample evidence for this.  Most of the post war prosperity can be attributed to the higher educational achievements who were able to use the GI bill.  Any debts incurred in providing free higher education will be wiped out by increases in productivity.   Read or reread the healthy memory blog post “Why Information Grows.”  The answer to why countries succeed, it is due to knowledge and know how.

Read or reread the healthy memory blog post “2015 Labor Day Post.”  The future should be characterized by continuing education throughout one’s lifetime.

© Douglas Griffith and, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Douglas Griffith and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Cognitive Capital

June 21, 2015

I was intrigued by the Association for Psychological Science (APS) session on cognitive capital, primarily because of the title.  I had not encountered this concept very often in the past, yet the concept would seem to hold much promise.  The papers presented at the session defined factors leading into what they called cognitive capital and then showed a high positive correlation between cognitive capital and the the economic success of  different nations.  Although interesting, I really was not interested that much in the papers themselves.  First of all, even if they have regressions equation indicating the contributions different variables make to cognitive capital and economic success, and no matter how big the data are, they are still correlational studies and do not prove causation.  And some of the variables were political in my view, such as private ownership.  Private ownership might indeed be a factor in a country’s success, but I don’t regard it as being a measure of cognitive capital.  It might help the exploitation of cognitive capital, but I regard the concept to be too important to be muddied up by questionable factors.

When I did a search for “cognitive capital”  I discovered a variety of enterprises capitalizing on the name, but I found no entry in the Wikipedia.  To me, this indicates that the concept deserves serious attention from serious researchers.  The concept has enormous intuitive appeal.  So much work and productivity is dependent upon thinking, and that is cognition.  Brains do provide the neurological substrate for cognition, but it is effective cognition that leads to success, and the failure to recognize good ideas, that is, the cognitive failure to recognize cognitive success.

One of the best examples I can think of regarding the importance of cognitive capital is Korea.  Korea was a rural country that was colonized by Japan in the early 20th century.  The Japanese exploited Korea until they were defeated in World War 2.  Unfortunately, the United States permitted the country to be divided in half with the result of the northern half becoming a ruthless communist dictatorship, and the southern half being a struggling capitalistic state.  However, the Koreans put a great deal of importance and had a high literacy rate.  They had cognitive capital to develop and exploit, which they did.  The result is one of the most advanced countries with respect to technology.  And it is important to realize that it is only half a country.  North Korea is one of the poorest and most oppressive countries on earth.  One that suppresses rather than fosters cognitive capital.  Unfortunately, the limited fostering of cognitive capital that they have done has lead to nuclear weapons and computer hackers.

So I think a good question is how can cognitive capital be fostered.  Free higher education is one means.  Perhaps the best investment the United States ever made in cognitive capital was the GI Bill after World War 2 that provided the means for millions of veterans to pursue higher education.  I believe that much of the subsequent success of the United States was the result of the GI Bill.  So why is higher education so expensive in the United States? Research should be targeted at initially reducing and ultimately eliminating these costs and examine the benefits that stem from this investment in cognitive capital.  Similar experimental studies should be done so that causation can be established in lieu of correlational studies.  In elections I want to see politicians saying that they will invest in cognitive capital.  And citizens should demand public investments in cognitive capital.

© Douglas Griffith and, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Douglas Griffith and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Solutions to the Excessive Cost of a Higher Education

August 22, 2012

This is a slight revision to an earlier post. It is thought that this post is especially relevant at a time when people are dealing with extraordinarily excessive tuition costs and excesive textbook costs.

When I attended college, the costs were affordable. Indeed, the tuition at some outstanding universities was free. Somehow the cost of a higher education has grossly escalated. Graduates end up with a ridiculous debt burden to begin their careers. And some cannot even begin their careers because they cannot find jobs!

How has this happened? Most public universities have undergone significant reductions from their respective governments. This is unfortunate. The most valuable resource of any nation is its people. And the failure of governments to underwrite the costs of higher education to leverage this potential is inexcusable. At the end of World War II the United States had incurred severe debts, yet it underwrote the large expense of the GI Bill that allowed millions of returning GIs to earn college degrees. I believe that the high growth of the United States after World War II was due in large part to the GI Bill. Any candidate arguing that this government support cannot be afforded due to debt is exhibiting a severe myopia that puts the country at risk.

Even so, these reductions do not account for all of the increased costs. And why the large increases at private universities?

Given the advances in technology, costs should have decreased, not increased. Textbooks should be available in pdf and electronic formats. Classes can be delivered over the internet resulting in very large economies of scale. Students, their spouses and parents, should not put up with this and should demand change.

Some esteemed universities are making public, via the internet, their course materials. The internet offers vast resources for learning. The opportunities for the autodidact are manifold. The problem is that although educational materials are readily available, the coin of the realm is the degree. These need to be offered by accredited colleges, and that costs money. The term diploma mill is pejorative and connotes certain types of colleges, but, in truth, all colleges are fundamentally diploma mills. They are in the business of selling diplomas.

Here is my proposal. We need a testing organization offering something like a GED for the different degree levels, but without the stigma of a GED. For example, lawyers have their bar tests, accountants have tests to become CPAs. The Graduate Record Examination offers advanced subject tests for virtually all college majors. We need accredited testing organizations to develop and administer these tests. Colleges might do this. In addition to hours completed, degrees could be offered on the basis of proficiency tests. Although tests would be involved, autodidacts would be rewarded for their efforts in providing their own education.

In my career I have encountered many individuals who have college degrees, but I still find it hard to believe that they have college degrees. Similarly I have encountered some individuals who have not attended college, and I find it difficult to believe that they have not attended college. I am not arguing that attending college is not a worthwhile activity. Rather, I am saying that it is not necessary to have attended college to manifest the benefits of a college education. It is what someone knows, and how well they communicate and think that is essential. I believe it was Robert Frost who said, “College is just a second chance to read the books you should have read in high school.” Should this be a misquote, please comment and correct me.

© Douglas Griffith and, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Douglas Griffith and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.