Student loan debt is rising at an exponential rate, as an illustration at the Daily Dish shows (at this link). A college tuition bubble has driven up tuition at a far faster rate than housing prices ever rose during the housing bubble (as a graphic at Instapundit shows). Students’ crippling debt keeps them from buying homes, and thus depresses the collapsed housing market even further. Federal spending on student financial aid drives up tuition while shrinking the economy. A frightening “student loan debt clock” shows student debt exceeds $964 billion and is rising by thousands of dollars every second.
Law Professor Paul Campos says that legal education is a scam:
Our modal law professor is a man or woman who knows very little about the actual practice of law in any form, given that he or she spent very little time — increasingly, at more elite schools, literally no time — practicing law before entering the legal academy. This fact means that to a significant extent the leaders of our profession (let us call our hypothetical specimen Professor Leader) have to spend much of their time in class bullshitting. This is a natural consequence of the fact that the rhetorical posture of Prof. Leader requires him to represent to his students that is teaching them how to be lawyers. But Prof. Leader knows nothing about being a lawyer. Hence, he must bullshit — he does not lie to his students about how to be a lawyer (doing so would require him to know how to be a lawyer, while attempting to deceive his students regarding the substance of that knowledge); rather, he “talks without knowing what he is talking about.”
Earlier, The New York Times wrote about how law schools are failing to teach students basic legal skills, leading to newly-hired corporate lawyers who do not even know what a merger typically involves, much less how to draft the documents needed to carry out a merger.
As I noted earlier in the Times,
I learned about trendy ideological fads and feminist and Marxist legal theory while at Harvard Law School. But I did not learn many basic legal principles, such as in contract law and real estate law, until I took a commercial bar-exam preparation course after law school. Getting rid of the requirement that students attend law school before taking the bar exam would save many students a fortune in student loan debt. It would also force law schools to improve their courses to attract students who now have no choice but to attend.
Law schools’ lack of interest in preparing students to be lawyers is illustrated by Tulane’s recent decision to give a murderer a scholarship to attend its law school, even though he most likely will never be admitted to the Bar given his criminal record. Law schools lie about whether graduates find jobs: two law schools are being sued for fraudulent placement data. Law schools have increased tuition by nearly 1,000 percent since 1960 in real terms.
Subsidies for colleges divert some young people away from vocational training that would lead to more useful, better-paying jobs. Joel Kotkin describes the rising demand (and pay) for trained manufacturing workers who need vocational training instead. While spurning vocational training, states spend billions on lousy colleges that graduate few students — like Chicago State, “which has just a 12.8 percent six-year graduation rate.” “Our colleges and universities are full to the brim with students who do not really belong there, who are unprepared for college and uninterested in breaking a mental sweat.” “Nearly half of the nation’s undergraduates show almost no gains in learning in their first two years of college, in large part because colleges don’t make academics a priority,” according to experts like NYU’s Richard Arum. “36% showed little” gain after four years. Students “spent 50% less time studying compared with students a few decades ago.”