The UNC Cheating Scandal and Why It Matters To You
Recently an academic cheating scandal rocked the world of college athletics. Over the last eighteen years more than three thousand students at the University of North Carolina (UNC) “took” classes that did not exist. In many cases this boosted GPAs to ensure athlete eligibility and the graduation of otherwise unqualified students. The NCAA as a whole faces increased scrutiny in light of the findings and without doubt the university’s football and basketball teams face some stiff penalties.
What surprises many interested observers of the unfolding events is the collective yawn coming from those outside the world of sports regarding this academic fraud. Half of the students involved had no affiliation with sports but few seem to care that numerous non-athletes cheated. This apathy is why this scandal matters to you.
Today, in honor of Independence Day, we’re going to have a change of pace from the usual tactical level, immediately applicable financial tip. Instead let’s get philosophical and explore the situation in front of us from a more strategic vantage point. Let’s talk about something you need to understand as you make life choices of all stripes. Let’s talk about valuing your freedom.
Recently I ran across an article/photo essay on the UK’s Daily Mail website which provided a glimpse into a handful of “Peter Pan generation Lost Boys” as captured by the lens of one Liz Calvi of West Hartford Connecticut. The content completely captured my attention, and my ire, not so much for the photographs but for the language used to explain why these young men had all dropped out of college and moved back in with mom and dad. And I quote (emphases mine):
- They “were forced to move back in with their parents, unable to get a job…”
- “You’re almost in this trap, where you have to go to college to get a job…” (but college is untenable due to the costs)
- “But college costs so much money, so sometimes you have to go back home to live with your parents.”
I reacted so viscerally to these statements, and to the representative photographs, because I don’t find this line of thought uncommon at all among the lost boys I encounter with regularity. In writing the following I do not specifically pick on any of the men in depicted in the article. I speak to every young person when I seek to clear something up once and for all with another quote, this one from my mother:
“Nobody’s making you do anything.”
Continue reading Because Freedom
Alternatives To School
Disclosure notice: The following topic causes panic among parents when I bring it up. We’ve looked at alternative schools in the past (here, here, and here for instance) and will do so again in the future, and this makes people a bit uncomfortable. Today we’ll go one step further. I’m going to walk you through (gasp) some alternatives to school that may work for you.
In my last post I broached the idea that college falls short in its outcomes for many students. Perhaps, then, many would be better off to get what they need through other channels. Sacrilegious, I know, but perhaps you don’t need a full-blown college experience to get where you need to go. Before thinking about school by default, perhaps we should challenge the assumption that anything but a college experience would serve you well. The old maxim is true: College isn’t for everybody. Here are a few alternatives to school to consider. Continue reading Alternatives TO School
Chart: Number of Hours at Minimum Wage Needed to Cover Tuition
An article by Jarrett Moreno at Attn: ran the above chart which shows how many hours of minimum wage a student must work in order to afford the average blended tuition of private and state colleges. The debate internal to that website got interesting. The author originally intended the piece to pressure legislative action toward an improved minimum wage but after lots of interaction with the online comments he penned another piece in which he acknowledged the bigger, truer problem to be that of tuition hikes.
Whatever the reason, it is true that today a student must work a full time job at minimum wage nearly year-round to afford the average tuition whereas previous generations could knock out school bills with a summer job alone. What to do about this fact? Do we write our congresspersons and hope they get around to raising minimum wage or imposing tuition freezes on our schools? Or do we indeed work full-time, year-round while maintaining a full class schedule?
Can they? Can we? Continue reading Chart: Number of Hours at Minimum Wage Needed to Cover Tuition
Chart: What We Can Learn from Billionaires
To make it through college in one piece most students will likely need to bring in some money by working for it. But in terms of wages we face a classic catch-22 situation: Students often pay for college to qualify for a good job but without a good job they cannot pay for college.
Perhaps this is why I find this data set so compelling. As it turns out, a study of the world’s top 100 billionaires by Trilby Rajna of the UK’s Approved Index revealed that the most popular degree among these rarities was: none at all. Ironically, this finding should be quite encouraging for those who want to go to college. Continue reading Chart: What We Can Learn from Billionaires
Chart: Can You Still Work Your Way Through College?
Now we get a little bit of interactivity with our chart, thanks to the work of the good folks at PBS. It goes a long way to answering the question “Can You Still Work Your Way Through College?” with the ability to input some of your own data.
If you could, in fact, work your way through college it would in some sense be the easiest path to take. No scholarship applications to filter and fill in an already busy senior year of high school, no loan worries pinning you down in your early career, less college selection headaches, no threat from families and charities and other institutions to take certain coursework or make a certain GPA to merit their funding, no military stint in the Afghani desert hanging over you. So… how likely is it that a person can forego all of the above, select a school, and pay the bills through traditional employment income? Continue reading Chart: Can You Still Work Your Way Through College?
The Best of Both Worlds
We’ve seen statistical evidence (link, link) that students can no longer muster enough income for college by merely making minimum wage. To that end I have suggested by and large employment in the “results economy” as opposed to the more predictable but less lucrative “time and effort economy.” (link, link, link). But this option often fails to inspire students, who see self employment as a crapshoot. What of the student who wants a regular, steady paycheck and schedule while in college? Continue reading The Best of Both Worlds
Do Your Own Thing
Recently I had a client in my office struggling with the fact that his kid wants more money for extras but won’t seek employment. He keeps hearing a lot of buts to his advice to go out and get a job. “But dad, all the good jobs are taken around campus.” “But dad, I can’t consistently know when I have time available to show up at a part time job with a shifting assignment load.” “But dad, the experience won’t help me down the road.” All of which can actually be legitimate rebuttals, my client admits, while all the same wondering why it has to be on him to put gas in the kid’s tank.
Legitimate buts if….
If… we assume a lack of help-wanted signs means a lack of income opportunities. If…we assume work has to be done according to a set schedule. If…we assume college jobs get left behind when graduation rolls around. If… we assume we must be an employee. But why assume such things? Continue reading Do Your Own Thing
Dorm Room Enterprises
In an interesting 2015 survey of the uber-wealthy we saw that a lack of formal higher education credentials isn’t an obstacle to billionaire-dom. This has great application to the aspiring student in that we get a hint as to one of the approaches we can take to tackling tuition bills through work income. Turns out, mere high school graduates have the potential to generate larger-than usual incomes if they know where to look.
In order to achieve better pay for their labors, students may want to join the “results economy” instead of working by the hour. As I’ve pointed out before, nothing really stops a student from joining the ranks of the self-employed (along with the majority of millionaires) and competing directly with their would-be employers. But with everything else going on must a student run a full-fledged, traditional business in order to be paid well? Continue reading Dorm Room Enterprises
The Traditional Job
The Traditional Job
When a young person hears “get a real job” the underlying encouragement is to go out and get steady, regularly scheduled, “W-2” employment. College towns boom with such arrangements, particularly in the services and trades sectors of the job market. Finding such work is as easy as picking up the local newspaper, a job-specific classifieds newsletter, or searching out Craigslist and employment websites. Continue reading The Traditional Job