Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Caveat emptor in education

Everyone is that hasn't been hiding under a rock for the past few hundred years should be familiar with the Bombay degree from the mythical University of Bombay. There are hundreds of organisations offering fake degree certificates. Often they will advertise on television as being a "Prestigious non-accredited degree program". Sometimes they will even claim they have applied for accreditation. The fact is anything non-accredited is worth nothing more than a fake degree certificate. A fake degree certificate isn't even worth the paper it is printed on.

What about ordinary degrees and qualifications? Generally, they're just garbage. Unless a degree or qualification leads directly to a job, it's worthless. Worse than that - since you've paid for it and invested time in it, it has been a waste of your time and money. Education is supposed to be an investment in your future but so often it's just a debt worn like a millstone around your neck. The naysayers will all say that the uneducated will work solely in minimum wage jobs. This is not strictly true.

A few months ago, during a course in Medical Coding & Billing, a fellow was on the course that had a Bachelor's degree and could only find work bagging groceries in a store. That is the misery that a lot of these so-called education courses lead to. Better not to have spent the money on a degree than to have the debt and only be able to bag groceries for minimum wage.

Colleges and educational institutions are the biggest scam artists ever. All will promise the earth with their profferings but very few will give a cast iron guarantee of work at the end of the courses. Take my experiences as rather good examples of the worthlessness of education. At the end of my computer degree, the computer market collapsed. That meant more people were in soup kitchens that had degrees in computing than had no qualifications whatsoever. The computer industry never really recovered and I ended up teaching English as a foreign language in Eastern Europe for a few years - pretty much living hand to mouth.

Roll forward a few years and the employment situation was even worse. There was no telling what would be in demand so a general degree was in order. That was obtained just about the time general degrees ceased to be in demand and employers needed more specific degrees. Roll forward another few years and I got a medical coding & billing certificate. At the beginning I was assured there were plenty jobs. By the end, not a single job to be found. Indeed, the AAPCCA website even stated on July 31st 2014 "The AAPCCA Hardship Scholarship Fund has fallen on hard times as well as a lot of our members." So, looks like Billing and Coding could have been another waste of time and money.

It's all very reminiscent of what a retired naval officer once said to me. She (for the US Navy does employ women) said that she had a poor opinion of Community colleges. This is what the college where I did my billing and coding certificate happens to be. Her opinion was based on the way they tell people there are jobs and show them jobs in the courses then after the course if finished, don't try to ensure the students gain employment.

Back in about the 1980s, colleges suddenly started offering a wide range of "vocational" courses in order to relieve employers of the task of training employees to do the jobs on offer. The problem is that the courses became ever sloppier and as there was no national accreditation and no national standard to which employers did things, the good idea courses have become largely worthless. Take medical coding - all that is, is a case of looking in a book to find a code number. That's all it is. Surely it can't be very long before all that gets computerised and the "coder" becomes another unemployed bum.

Education as stated before in The Education Scam, is a double-edged sword wielded by the colleges to make money. The forward swing can get you into work. The back swing lightens your wallet. It's very hit and miss and very hard to predict what will be in demand a few years down the line when the course is completed. The worst offenders are courses for areas that are "in demand" as the demand will have been satisfied way before the course is completed. Courses in things like photography are just a total waste of time as are courses in any form of technology.

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