Free University Nirvana?

Many of our left-wing radical politicians, a.k.a., snake oil salesmen, are pitching free university education for all.  And it's not surprising: Teachers’ unions and university administrators might salivate at the thought.  High school students about to embark on post-secondary education might think it is a wonderful idea.  After all, Hollywood has portrayed the university experience as one of a continuous four-year party of sex, drinking, drugs and debauchery. 

Would an aspiring student need to take those annoying SAT and ACT college entrance exams if universities were tuition-free?  Government would now control the university system. 

Who decides who would go to which university?  Would the structure be similar to secondary education? Would students be relegated to universities in their area only?  Would private universities exist?  What about universities such as Harvard?  Would the endowments continue to pour in from alumni or industry? 

Would everyone be on a Pass/Fail system or simply state “present” like a former community-organizing Senator from Illinois and now uber-rich ex-president?  Would each student select his/her desired discipline of study or would the government?

The McCourt School of Public Policy, Center on Education and the Workforce, Georgetown University, published a report in 2015, titled: “The Economic Value of College Majors.”  The report's authors stated that over 35% of today’s jobs require a college degree.  They admonish students with advice, too - such as, to choose the path to their futures wisely.  Match their skillsets with the lifestyle they desire.  Be clear with their decisions, and be careful of emotions that could interfere with that path. 

Now, under a free university system, how would the curricula, professors, and experience match the needs of the new wave of students?  Would business management still be a sought after major?  After all, the next step is government to decide where you work.  Didn’t we once think that small businesses make up the majority of the non-governmental workforce?

A university education is the first filter into the real world for many.  Choose wisely, because trying to change a trajectory later could backfire on you.  Business management schools often refer to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.  He defined seven levels in a pyramid that are grouped into two categories: deficiency needs and growth needs.  One has to satisfy the basic deficiency needs first: physiological, safety and security, love and belongingness, and self-worth and self-esteem.  Then one evolves into the growth needs: to know and to understand, aesthetics, and finally self-actualization.  A good education can be a catalyst to move you up that pyramid faster.  Like all pyramids, the closer you reach the top, the fewer spaces are available at the table.

The socialist system of free university for all destroys the pyramid and creates a horizontal plinth of “equality.”  Every kid on the team gets the same trophy.  This disincentive demotivates the high achievers and the innovators in their quest for self-actualization.  And there is evidence this has happened: Have you ever visited a country where your taxi driver spoke English and was a college graduate?  I will name a few from my experience working around the globe: China, Philippines, Malaysia, Kazakhstan, Spain, Greece, UAE, Uruguay, Jordan, Turkey, Georgia, and Venezuela in the post-Hugo Chavez era.  Seems the state, after offering a lot of free education, can't quite find a place for the people it educates for free.

And there are additional factors: Without competition, the result is complacency.  How often have you read an article about an incompetent teacher or professor who gets away with it because of having tenure?  If they're challenged on failure to perform to reasonable standards, they pass the grievance to their union steward to rectify.

Not everyone needs a university education to achieve self-actualization.  One needs to set their goals and develop a path to reach them.  My hillbilly Dad from southwestern Virginia dropped out of high school when he was 17 years old to join the Navy in World War II.  He was one of the smartest men I know.  Years later, he was laid off by a defense contractor while working as an expediter.  What he did next marvels me to this day:  With four kids at home and one more on the way he came up with an idea that put beans on the table for a couple of years.  He borrowed money to buy two knitting machines, blue and white wool and thread.  He knitted wool caps.  Mom sewed them up.  The high school kid next-door silkscreened “COLTS” on felt.  Mom sewed the labels.  My brother and I made the pom poms to be sewn on the top.  Dad would go into Memorial Stadium with a couple of shopping bags and sell them in the stands.  My older brother and I with two of our friends would sell them on the corners of the stadium.  I was eight years old.  We sold them for $1.25 apiece.  We went door-to-door selling them too.  Eventually Dad was caught by Security and was taken to see the Baltimore Colts owner, Carroll Rosenbloom.  He took a liking to Dad and introduced him to other team owners.  Next thing you know we were making Redskins, Eagles and Steelers wool caps.  When they were warming up in the late 1950s and early 1960s, you might see them wearing Dad’s caps.

Later my Dad sold advertising and eventually opened up his own successful business.  He pushed each of his six kids to go to a university to get the chance that he did not have.  Of course, we paid for ourselves.  One of the six kids followed in Dad’s footsteps.  She left after high school graduation and became a paramedic.  After getting bored with that, she decided to become a California Highway patrol officer starting graveyard shift in south central LA.  After being injured on the job she retired but boredom soon set in.  Now she is one of few executives in Wal-Mart without a college degree.  Her daughter graduates in two weeks with a Ph.D. in Neuropharmacology.

How many of us have been told that there is never a free lunch?  There are always strings attached.  The free university education for all topples the pyramid of achievement for most that separates the wheat from the chaff.  I want to see my grandchildren motivated to learn and excel to become leaders of the next generation.

Many of our left-wing radical politicians, a.k.a., snake oil salesmen, are pitching free university education for all.  And it's not surprising: Teachers’ unions and university administrators might salivate at the thought.  High school students about to embark on post-secondary education might think it is a wonderful idea.  After all, Hollywood has portrayed the university experience as one of a continuous four-year party of sex, drinking, drugs and debauchery. 

Would an aspiring student need to take those annoying SAT and ACT college entrance exams if universities were tuition-free?  Government would now control the university system. 

Who decides who would go to which university?  Would the structure be similar to secondary education? Would students be relegated to universities in their area only?  Would private universities exist?  What about universities such as Harvard?  Would the endowments continue to pour in from alumni or industry? 

Would everyone be on a Pass/Fail system or simply state “present” like a former community-organizing Senator from Illinois and now uber-rich ex-president?  Would each student select his/her desired discipline of study or would the government?

The McCourt School of Public Policy, Center on Education and the Workforce, Georgetown University, published a report in 2015, titled: “The Economic Value of College Majors.”  The report's authors stated that over 35% of today’s jobs require a college degree.  They admonish students with advice, too - such as, to choose the path to their futures wisely.  Match their skillsets with the lifestyle they desire.  Be clear with their decisions, and be careful of emotions that could interfere with that path. 

Now, under a free university system, how would the curricula, professors, and experience match the needs of the new wave of students?  Would business management still be a sought after major?  After all, the next step is government to decide where you work.  Didn’t we once think that small businesses make up the majority of the non-governmental workforce?

A university education is the first filter into the real world for many.  Choose wisely, because trying to change a trajectory later could backfire on you.  Business management schools often refer to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.  He defined seven levels in a pyramid that are grouped into two categories: deficiency needs and growth needs.  One has to satisfy the basic deficiency needs first: physiological, safety and security, love and belongingness, and self-worth and self-esteem.  Then one evolves into the growth needs: to know and to understand, aesthetics, and finally self-actualization.  A good education can be a catalyst to move you up that pyramid faster.  Like all pyramids, the closer you reach the top, the fewer spaces are available at the table.

The socialist system of free university for all destroys the pyramid and creates a horizontal plinth of “equality.”  Every kid on the team gets the same trophy.  This disincentive demotivates the high achievers and the innovators in their quest for self-actualization.  And there is evidence this has happened: Have you ever visited a country where your taxi driver spoke English and was a college graduate?  I will name a few from my experience working around the globe: China, Philippines, Malaysia, Kazakhstan, Spain, Greece, UAE, Uruguay, Jordan, Turkey, Georgia, and Venezuela in the post-Hugo Chavez era.  Seems the state, after offering a lot of free education, can't quite find a place for the people it educates for free.

And there are additional factors: Without competition, the result is complacency.  How often have you read an article about an incompetent teacher or professor who gets away with it because of having tenure?  If they're challenged on failure to perform to reasonable standards, they pass the grievance to their union steward to rectify.

Not everyone needs a university education to achieve self-actualization.  One needs to set their goals and develop a path to reach them.  My hillbilly Dad from southwestern Virginia dropped out of high school when he was 17 years old to join the Navy in World War II.  He was one of the smartest men I know.  Years later, he was laid off by a defense contractor while working as an expediter.  What he did next marvels me to this day:  With four kids at home and one more on the way he came up with an idea that put beans on the table for a couple of years.  He borrowed money to buy two knitting machines, blue and white wool and thread.  He knitted wool caps.  Mom sewed them up.  The high school kid next-door silkscreened “COLTS” on felt.  Mom sewed the labels.  My brother and I made the pom poms to be sewn on the top.  Dad would go into Memorial Stadium with a couple of shopping bags and sell them in the stands.  My older brother and I with two of our friends would sell them on the corners of the stadium.  I was eight years old.  We sold them for $1.25 apiece.  We went door-to-door selling them too.  Eventually Dad was caught by Security and was taken to see the Baltimore Colts owner, Carroll Rosenbloom.  He took a liking to Dad and introduced him to other team owners.  Next thing you know we were making Redskins, Eagles and Steelers wool caps.  When they were warming up in the late 1950s and early 1960s, you might see them wearing Dad’s caps.

Later my Dad sold advertising and eventually opened up his own successful business.  He pushed each of his six kids to go to a university to get the chance that he did not have.  Of course, we paid for ourselves.  One of the six kids followed in Dad’s footsteps.  She left after high school graduation and became a paramedic.  After getting bored with that, she decided to become a California Highway patrol officer starting graveyard shift in south central LA.  After being injured on the job she retired but boredom soon set in.  Now she is one of few executives in Wal-Mart without a college degree.  Her daughter graduates in two weeks with a Ph.D. in Neuropharmacology.

How many of us have been told that there is never a free lunch?  There are always strings attached.  The free university education for all topples the pyramid of achievement for most that separates the wheat from the chaff.  I want to see my grandchildren motivated to learn and excel to become leaders of the next generation.