35 votes

The Biden-Harris administration's student debt relief plan

59 comments

  1. [44]
    EgoEimi
    (edited )
    Link
    I think this is great news and will help a lot of people move their lives forward. I think that this needs to be soon followed with urgent reforms around student debt and higher education, because...
    • Exemplary

    I think this is great news and will help a lot of people move their lives forward.

    I think that this needs to be soon followed with urgent reforms around student debt and higher education, because the education market is terribly distorted.

    • Student loans should be more easily dischargeable
    • In turn, lenders should be selective, and interest rates should better reflect risk and reward
    • Moving forward, weak students entering weak tertiary education programs in subjects for which they're ill-suited should be... denied loans.
    • The spigot of easy financing should be turned off on weak programs.

    A student loan is essentially an investment to cultivate an individual's economic potential in an advanced knowledge economy. Whether people like it or not, that is the de facto role of the modern university. The ideal of the university as a place for minds to ponder the humanities is from a bygone era when universities were primarily for genteel elite who were going to be materially fine in life whether or not they went.

    Leading up to the present crisis we've been beset by several problems:

    • The demand for a college degree as a minimum requirement for many professional careers, regardless of its relevance.
    • This demand is in part driven by credential inflation. As more and more people entering the labor force had degrees, the more it became standard.
    • We've been unconditionally giving 17 and 18 year olds significant business loans to invest in their economic futures, regardless of their potential or 'business' plan.
    • True to the market model, colleges and universities have responded to this influx of easy money accordingly by raising tuition and building amenities to compete in the market for prospective students.
    • College is an extremely expensive place for directionless teenagers to figure basic life stuff out. This was fine for the genteel elite of olde because they had money to burn anyway. But that really isn't scaleable to mass society.

    We really need to come up with a better, cheaper system for educating the young populace at scale, instead of dumping money on trying to awkwardly adapt an aristocratic institution for the demands of the modern economy.

    15 votes
    1. [39]
      vord
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      Whilest you, and the majority even, may see it this way....this is a horrific take. Philosophy is the single most important class taught in college. STEM without philosophy is how you get workers...

      Whether people like it or not, that is the de facto role of the modern university. The ideal of the university as a place for minds to ponder the humanities is from a bygone era when universities were primarily for genteel elite who were going to be materially fine in life whether or not they went.

      Whilest you, and the majority even, may see it this way....this is a horrific take. Philosophy is the single most important class taught in college.

      STEM without philosophy is how you get workers who can build bombs but don't stop to question if they should.

      Art majors make video games. English majors write novels and scripts. Therapists help people cope. Teachers are more important to society than engineers, and the majority of their classes are humanities. Historians help us understand the past, so we're not doomed to repeat it as frequently.

      A well-rounded society will have all of these things. I agree college should be free (and private schooling abolished), but the overemphasis on STEM is a pet peeve of mine.

      The most important part of college isn't even the coursework. It's the socialization with a diverse set of peers, far moreso than any students would have been exposed to prior.

      Conservative nutjobs are not wrong that higher education has a liberal bias...it does. In part due to the socialization aspects and the humanities being taught in a way they weren't before college. That and reality has a liberal bias.

      22 votes
      1. [2]
        EgoEimi
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        My disagreement is not that the humanities don't have value and only STEM does, but the vehicle by which we deliver education is absurdly inefficient and expensive because it evolved as a...

        Whilest you, and the majority even, may see it this way....this is a horrific take. Philosophy is the single most important class taught in college.

        My disagreement is not that the humanities don't have value and only STEM does, but the vehicle by which we deliver education is absurdly inefficient and expensive because it evolved as a conspicuous luxury product for the elites. Even for STEM education.

        The lecture is the primary university medium for education. But many lectures are often rote, non-interactive—when lectures are made "interactive", it is done so by having students respond to pop quizzes with iClickers—and led by professors who are either uninterested or poor pedagogues. Yet lectures are also fundamentally artisanal one-off products.

        The average cost of a college credit hour ranges from $400 to $800 to $1600 depending on if it's at an in-state public U, out-of-state public U, or private university. An introductory humanities course is usually 3 credit hours. The content is rarely groundbreaking or exotic and often rote. It's not like there's a new branch of philosophy crops up every semester.

        Is it really efficient for $1200/2400/4800 per person on a course whose content could be adequately substituted by a good book or video that... doesn't cost several thousand dollars? If it's about socialization, surely there are much cheaper ways for students to gather and discuss their learning?

        On STEM: A friend of mine recently finally grasped Fourier transforms on an intuitive level after watching a series of 3Blue1Brown videos. He concluded that the videos were far superior to his math lectures during his time as a physics major at Princeton, lectures which were often taught by bored professors who would rather be advancing their own research or careers instead.


        My main concern is that we're doing something that's expensive and inefficient. People are struggling to bear that cost, so our long-term plan (and electoral impulse) is to keep doing the same thing... but throw more money at it?

        I think we need to help people out of the college debt trap they've fallen in, and make a radical course correction away from the one-size-fits-all / everyone-must-have-a-4-year-degree paradigm toward one where people get the education that fits them and their goals. Many people I know feel that large parts of their college educations were wasteful. I remember being in lectures where half the students were asleep or texting anyway.

        14 votes
        1. Omnicrola
          Link Parent
          This is happening, slowly, inexorably. The team I joined at the University of Michigan is about 100 people, and one of the focal points of the team since it's inception 6 years ago is to create...

          I think we need to help people out of the college debt trap they've fallen in, and make a radical course correction away from the one-size-fits-all / everyone-must-have-a-4-year-degree paradigm toward one where people get the education that fits them and their goals.

          This is happening, slowly, inexorably. The team I joined at the University of Michigan is about 100 people, and one of the focal points of the team since it's inception 6 years ago is to create online high-quality educational content, the majority of which is free (unless you want a certificate/college credit). I frequently hear conversations about the exact thing you mentioned, and how higher-ed will continue to adapt and evolve as the paradigm continues to shift away from the traditional 4-year in-person degree to .... whatever it becomes.

          3 votes
      2. [18]
        vektor
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        Coming from a vastly different background, this seems like a weird take. Not saying you're wrong, but it'd be a very unfamiliar stance here. I did not take a single humanities class in university....

        Coming from a vastly different background, this seems like a weird take. Not saying you're wrong, but it'd be a very unfamiliar stance here.

        I did not take a single humanities class in university. Closest I got was "english academic writing". Some business, some law, but all those were very much voluntary. I don't think I suffered from not having those classes. I certainly could've gone through my courses without seeing much at all that was not STEM.

        However, german high school is a bit more "elite" than US high schools, in the sense that only 30-40% of students get the Abitur diploma, while 80+% get a high school diploma. The Abitur (or some of its more domain-specific variants) are a requirement to get into university (slightly simplifying here, sue me). And Abitur is very heavy on humanities.

        I guess this ties into my other post in this thread as well, as Abitur gives you a better perspective on what you want to study, in a way? In a good school, you can go relatively deep into a specific subject, giving you a good idea of whether you want to pursue it further.

        At the same time...

        It's the socialization with a diverse set of peers, far moreso than any students would have been exposed to prior.

        This might actually be a thing where US education is a good step ahead of German education. The last part of your education where you're not only (or mostly) in contact with a prefiltered (by major) part of the population, but are basically in a diverse representative-ish sample, is Abitur. Which is very much a school setting socially: Relatively strict seating customs, less opportunity for out-of-school socialization, you have way less control over who your peers are, you still live with your parents. All that is (imo) horrible for socialization. And by the time you're out of those settings that hinder social development, you're already an engineering student among engineering students.

        It's a bit entangled in my brain, as my social development was very much helped by university. One of the factors that changed was very much that I was now a nerd among nerds. So to what degree my beneficial experience there is to be attributed to (1) my university experience being largely segregated by major or (2) all the other factors I mentioned, I can't disambiguate

        Btw, if this seems familiar, I've written about the same topic on tildes before, ages ago.

        6 votes
        1. [17]
          NaraVara
          (edited )
          Link Parent
          Honestly the demand for STEM degrees is mostly a failure of Human Resources management in the corporate world to understand what skills are actually correlated to success. This is exacerbated by...

          Honestly the demand for STEM degrees is mostly a failure of Human Resources management in the corporate world to understand what skills are actually correlated to success. This is exacerbated by the fact that a lot of senior technical people came up in a time when computers were more complicated and the relevant skills were more niche so they assume people must come from a background similar to them in order to have the chops.

          The STEM skills people actually care about, even for most entry level SWE and data science roles, are like 3 or 4 credits worth of classes. These could very easily just be general education/distribution requirements--the same way algebra and calculus are--and let students take majors they're interested in so they can be more well rounded. This is clearly evidenced by the fact that spending 3 months sleeping through some online coding bootcamp to get a certification evidently qualifies people to pursue entry level developer jobs. I'm a political science and history major and my foundation in Econometrics gave me enough background knowledge to teach myself SQL on the job and extend that into working as a data scientist.

          I am smarter than average, but it's not out of reach for any sufficiently smart and intellectually curious person to do. And it's much much easier to teach a smart, intellectually curious English or philosophy or history major how to code than to try and take a mediocre STEM grad--who slept through his classes because all he cared about was the "skill signaling" effect of his diploma, but had no passion for the filed and little interest in education as an end in itself--to be smart or intellectually curious.

          At some point putting basic coding skills on your resume should be implied by your education the same way nobody feels the need to mention their proficiency with various computer operating systems anymore.

          Although I will say, what bothers me even more than STEM degrees eating everything else is the stuff I consider pure career signaling, like "marketing" and "business" bachelors degrees. Anything relevant about those you can learn in a couple of months on the job. It is not the education system's role to do that for corporate America. If those random accounting and management skills are important to them, they should have in-house training programs. That way they actually know what their team members' baseline of knowledge will be instead of trying to make inferences based on what college they went to. Even accounting is, IMO, a community college level program at most. Universities that offer these programs are doing their students a disservice and recruiters who give even a single shit about these are simply oblivious to what makes for an effective hire.

          2 votes
          1. [16]
            vektor
            Link Parent
            Gotta say, I agree to some extent: Most of the skills you learn in a CS degree are not relevant most of the time. Not all of them, and not all of the time. And there is value (a lot of it, imo) to...

            The STEM skills people actually care about, even for most entry level SWE and data science roles, are like 3 or 4 credits worth of classes. [...]

            Gotta say, I agree to some extent: Most of the skills you learn in a CS degree are not relevant most of the time. Not all of them, and not all of the time. And there is value (a lot of it, imo) to having them in the back of your mind in case they allow you to make a connection to a different topic, but maybe that's also a perspective that doesn't hold for other people in other roles.

            I also think the HR failure can be explained quite easily by them using a college degree in CS as a filter for people who have "the right stuff". A coding bootcamp is not generally that. If you "don't have the right stuff", you'll still get the boot camp cert, but not the degree. (With some margin of error there, tbf, particularly if you study hard). I don't know what the "right stuff" is, I just know that you can't test for it in an interview, if you assume that the candidate has practiced similar tests. All those fizzbuzz tests and its more elaborate cousins are tests for the right stuff, but they fall flat once people start practicing for the tests.

            In summary, I do believe that majoring in something else for a SWE role is valuable and doable and valid. I particularly appreciate that whenever there's synergies among the different fields involved. I work with a guy who's studied maths in undergrad and is now doing a PhD in mechanical engineering with a heavy focus on machine learning. He's excellent at connecting those fields and we desperately need people like him. For example, in order to automate task X, you need someone who truly understands task X, but also understands the tools involved in automating something. At the same time, I'm in a role where I benefit substantially from my university CS degree, and no other background would produce comparable results (imho). So I'm of somewhat split minds here.

            Oh, and I also keep running into people who practice ML but have no clue what a test set is for... :[ Maybe that also contributes to my regard for degrees?

            2 votes
            1. [15]
              NaraVara
              Link Parent
              Oh my God! This has been my bane for the past 2 months. I'm trying to hire someone who can do high level statistical modeling but everyone I interview is like "Well I can hit the ML button in this...

              Oh, and I also keep running into people who practice ML but have no clue what a test set is for... :[ Maybe that also contributes to my regard for degrees?

              Oh my God! This has been my bane for the past 2 months. I'm trying to hire someone who can do high level statistical modeling but everyone I interview is like "Well I can hit the ML button in this python package and interpret the numbers that come out" but looks at me blankly if I ask them to explain to me how a regression works or what internal or external validity means. Just basic foundational statistics knowledge is completely missing in the rush to optimize resumes with keywords.

              There is space for folks who can drive the car but don't necessarily know how the engine works, but some folks are kidding themselves if they think being a glorified script kiddie is worth a $170/hr bill rate.

              At the same time, I'm in a role where I benefit substantially from my university CS degree, and no other background would produce comparable results (imho). So I'm of somewhat split minds here.

              For sure. I think the most effective teams consist of people from a variety backgrounds to be able to make those connections. A couple of hard CS people are definitely needed, but to be well rounded you needs lots of other kinds of people too. This is my big departure with corporate HR. They tend to view people are cogs in a machine and hiring is a matter of identifying the correct specifications for the cog and finding as many cogs that fit the spec as they can. But this is just not a good way to approach knowledge work (and honestly I question if it's a good way to approach any work).

              I try to staff up a team like I'm recruiting for the X-Men. We have a task in front of us and there are a variety of skills we can deploy in different ways to address that task. Maybe you're a guy with telekinesis, maybe you're a geomancer, maybe you shoot powerful concussive blasts from your eyeballs, maybe you can just breathe fire hot enough to melt rock. I can use any of these people to dig a tunnel through a mountain. The nature of the solution will differ based on the powers I have available, but there's not like a single best fit person to do it. If you look only for 40 guys who shoot optic blasts just because that's the first guy's power you're going to have a very overspecialized team.

              6 votes
              1. [14]
                vektor
                Link Parent
                I like the X-Men metaphor. The other side of the "glorified script kiddie" problem also exists: As a (I like to think) quite competent graduate, it was kinda tough to get past the initial...

                I like the X-Men metaphor.

                The other side of the "glorified script kiddie" problem also exists: As a (I like to think) quite competent graduate, it was kinda tough to get past the initial screening in the hiring process. I suppose part of it was bad timing (covid), but I also really don't like adapting my resume to the role at hand. Kinda felt dishonest, like I was keyword-optimizing. Also felt like I was just doing it to compete with others who are being similarly dishonest. In my mind, the contents of my resume are objective facts that don't change depending on the role I apply to? I do realize that that's maybe a bit naive. Was a weird experience that one.

                Let me draw a wider arc here: Technology has not aided the discovery problem much at all. Sure, you can type stuff into google and get similar stuff (and some very relevant but not so similar stuff too) back. That's great. What technology hasn't solved at all for us is if the thing we're looking for isn't so easily described in plain words. There's a document I found online that listed satirical management archetypes. Can't for the life of me retrieve it, it's apparently completely google-proof. No matter what I search for, I can't find it. Applies to other tasks too: Matching applicants to roles. Or matching people in online dating settings. We just haven't developed the tools that would allow us to search for such things in a reasonable fashion. Textual similarity just doesn't cut it. Hypothesis: It's hard to do this as a correlation-based setup. You need to think about causality. Judea Pearl sends his regards. By running interventions (interviewing a candidate for a role and observing the results, setting up a date and asking how it went, retrieving a document and asking what's wrong with that. That gives you so much more information than any amount of purely observational data could ever give you. There's a grant proposal, if someone wants to get into CS research. This one's free, next one costs 2 cents. Cheers!

                3 votes
                1. [10]
                  papasquat
                  Link Parent
                  You're viewing a resume as some sort of objective document that perfectly describes your experience level and your aptitude, when it's not that. It's a tool to get you an interview, nothing more,...

                  In my mind, the contents of my resume are objective facts that don't change depending on the role I apply to?

                  You're viewing a resume as some sort of objective document that perfectly describes your experience level and your aptitude, when it's not that. It's a tool to get you an interview, nothing more, and nothing less.
                  The interview is where your prospective employer tries to suss out your actual experience level and skillset..

                  5 votes
                  1. [9]
                    vektor
                    Link Parent
                    But then it's just buzzword bingo and a bullshit contest about who can best guess what HR is looking for. At which point it stops being a good metric. I get what I'm supposed to be doing, and I...

                    But then it's just buzzword bingo and a bullshit contest about who can best guess what HR is looking for. At which point it stops being a good metric. I get what I'm supposed to be doing, and I know it's what everybody does so it's expected and not immoral. It feels dirty nonetheless.

                    I mean, if the hurdle to getting an interview is a shitty filter, why not drop the pretenses and randomize which applicants to advance?

                    3 votes
                    1. [2]
                      papasquat
                      Link Parent
                      Because we live in an imperfect world where the optimal thing is very rarely the thing that's done. Resumes are just an arbitrary filter to cull down the amount of people you have to interview....

                      I mean, if the hurdle to getting an interview is a shitty filter, why not drop the pretenses and randomize which applicants to advance?

                      Because we live in an imperfect world where the optimal thing is very rarely the thing that's done. Resumes are just an arbitrary filter to cull down the amount of people you have to interview. Outside of extreme example, anyone that's ever done hiring will tell you they very rarely correlate with the quality of the candidate. There's no such thing as morality when it comes to these transactions and pretending that it does just puts you behind. If you find a job offer that looks appealing to you, and you think it's something you're capable of, you should absolutely tailor the resume you send out to make it look like you're a perfect candidate for that role and you shouldn't at all feel bad about it. If you don't think that virtually every company that posts job ads is doing the same thing on their end to make their positions seem as appealing as possible, you're kidding yourself. You should take the supposed values and perks of the job in the ad with a grain of salt, just like hiring managers are taking your resume with a grain of salt. The interview is where both sides go to get a better picture of the truth.

                      Both the resume and the job ad are there to get feet in the door.

                      4 votes
                      1. vektor
                        Link Parent
                        I get that. In theory, I know all this. I just hate it with the fire of a thousand suns. And I really dislike playing along.

                        I get that. In theory, I know all this. I just hate it with the fire of a thousand suns. And I really dislike playing along.

                        5 votes
                    2. [6]
                      skybrian
                      Link Parent
                      Another way to think about it is that you are not your resume and not everything you've done is relevant to the job at hand. Customizing it to remove irrelevant stuff and emphasize the things...

                      Another way to think about it is that you are not your resume and not everything you've done is relevant to the job at hand. Customizing it to remove irrelevant stuff and emphasize the things they're likely to care about isn't being dishonest, it's just good writing.

                      Of course it all depends on how you approach it; certainly there is lying and exaggerating on resumes, but you don't have to do that. And you can only customize it to the extent that you understand the job and company you're applying for. (Showing that you've done your research and know their business is itself a flex that shows interest and competence.)

                      Traditionally the cover letter is where you write with the company's specific needs in mind, but I'm not sure how much cover letters are used anymore?

                      4 votes
                      1. [5]
                        MimicSquid
                        Link Parent
                        Cover letters are currently in that "optional, but don't you want to stand out?" area. You can generally submit without one, but who knows how that dings you in their black box of application...

                        Cover letters are currently in that "optional, but don't you want to stand out?" area. You can generally submit without one, but who knows how that dings you in their black box of application rankings?

                        3 votes
                        1. [4]
                          NaraVara
                          Link Parent
                          As a hiring manager I have never actually seen a cover letter. HR and recruiting companies just send the resume. I think if the cover letter does anything it gets you a phone screen maybe, but the...

                          As a hiring manager I have never actually seen a cover letter. HR and recruiting companies just send the resume. I think if the cover letter does anything it gets you a phone screen maybe, but the HR people reviewing them don't really understand anything about what they're looking for.

                          2 votes
                          1. nukeman
                            Link Parent
                            I’ve heard so much conflicting advice about them. Some people read them, others don’t; some like them long, some short; and I submitted one, while other coworkers didn’t. I think they are...

                            I’ve heard so much conflicting advice about them. Some people read them, others don’t; some like them long, some short; and I submitted one, while other coworkers didn’t. I think they are increasingly useless, especially in an era of applicant tracking systems.

                            1 vote
                          2. [2]
                            MimicSquid
                            Link Parent
                            Oh, that's helpful info. Thank you for offering some info from behind the curtain.

                            Oh, that's helpful info. Thank you for offering some info from behind the curtain.

                            1 vote
                            1. Omnicrola
                              Link Parent
                              As an alternative anecdote : I do read cover letters, though the quantity of applicants I have to sort through is relatively small (less than 20 per position usually). In my case it serves as it's...

                              As an alternative anecdote : I do read cover letters, though the quantity of applicants I have to sort through is relatively small (less than 20 per position usually). In my case it serves as it's own basic filter, in that our application page specifically says that a cover letter is required. If you don't include one, I'm likely to bin your resume because you didn't follow basic instructions. The quality of writing in a cover letter can itself also be pertinent, especially for jobs that are communication-focused (which can include some CS positions).

                              2 votes
                2. teaearlgraycold
                  Link Parent
                  Resumes don't need to be a bunch of BS and fluff, but it's perfectly honest and gets better results if you empathize with the recruiter and figure out what they're looking for. You will only have...

                  Resumes don't need to be a bunch of BS and fluff, but it's perfectly honest and gets better results if you empathize with the recruiter and figure out what they're looking for. You will only have a handful of key takeaways from each section, but you should have way more than a handful of notable things to say about an educational program or job. So tailoring your resume is an excellent way to filter down the large list of possibilities and get the recruiter to perk up and give a shit about you as a candidate.

                  The real way to get a job is not through the front door. Piles of resumes are almost worthless to recruiters. You need people to know you personally. Make sure your first job(s) will also get you a network of employers/workers that will want to recruit you a few years down the line.

                  3 votes
                3. [2]
                  NaraVara
                  Link Parent
                  Is it this one?

                  There's a document I found online that listed satirical management archetypes.

                  Is it this one?

                  1 vote
                  1. vektor
                    (edited )
                    Link Parent
                    No, that's not it. It's similar and hits a few of the same points. It was also concerned with toxic management styles though. I think it might've been a set of slides? It was also much longer and...

                    No, that's not it. It's similar and hits a few of the same points. It was also concerned with toxic management styles though. I think it might've been a set of slides? It was also much longer and maybe with illustrations. I vaguely remember it calling the "swoop and poop" the "SSBN manager" or something instead. Something about popping up, causing a whole lot of havoc, and disappearing again. The reason I tried to retrieve the doc is because I've since met such a manager. The cycle of surfacing is counted in the months though. The list of grievances grows accordingly. Very annoying.

                    3 votes
      3. [18]
        skybrian
        Link Parent
        I agree with @EgoEimi. The question is why you need to take an expensive philosophy class to learn philosophy. Can't you just, like, read a lot, watch lectures online if that's how you like to...

        I agree with @EgoEimi. The question is why you need to take an expensive philosophy class to learn philosophy. Can't you just, like, read a lot, watch lectures online if that's how you like to learn, and talk about it with your friends? And write a blog, maybe, for the writing practice? Also consider community college courses or online courses for more structure.

        Spending huge amounts of money on the "broadening" aspects of education doesn't make much sense when there are much cheaper ways. It makes sense to spend big money on a credential if you have a plan for how it's supposed to pay off.

        4 votes
        1. [17]
          NaraVara
          Link Parent
          Why do you need to take an expensive computer science class? Can't you just read an O'Reilly book?

          The question is why you need to take an expensive philosophy class to learn philosophy. Can't you just, like, read a lot, watch lectures online if that's how you like to learn, and talk about it with your friends? And write a blog, maybe, for the writing practice? Also consider community college courses or online courses for more structure.

          Why do you need to take an expensive computer science class? Can't you just read an O'Reilly book?

          6 votes
          1. [15]
            skybrian
            Link Parent
            You're being snarky but it's a good question. There actually are a lot of self-taught computer programmers. Here is a website with recommended reading for people who went that route and want to...

            You're being snarky but it's a good question. There actually are a lot of self-taught computer programmers. Here is a website with recommended reading for people who went that route and want to learn more college-level computer science.

            6 votes
            1. [3]
              NaraVara
              Link Parent
              There are also a lot of "self-taught" philosophers, but by-and-large their output tends to be embarrassingly sophomoric. This is because most humanities curricula aren't about solving problems or...

              There are also a lot of "self-taught" philosophers, but by-and-large their output tends to be embarrassingly sophomoric. This is because most humanities curricula aren't about solving problems or absorbing various facts or processes they're about teaching you how to think, reason, write, and do research according to the traditions of the discipline.

              4 votes
              1. [2]
                skybrian
                Link Parent
                Writing practice seems generally useful, but has anyone shown that undergrads who took philosophy end up as better writers or thinkers than those who didn't? I don't think people who took...

                Writing practice seems generally useful, but has anyone shown that undergrads who took philosophy end up as better writers or thinkers than those who didn't? I don't think people who took philosophy have any particular reputation for good writing or solid reasoning, but perhaps this could be tested?

                Perhaps we could compare philosophy majors to history majors to see what the effects of particular disciplines are. I wonder what research has been done into this sort of thing?

                5 votes
                1. NaraVara
                  Link Parent
                  Writing practice is the least useful of the things I listed. And no it doesn’t make you a good writer in the sense of writing things that are elegant or pleasing to read. It teaches you to write...

                  Writing practice is the least useful of the things I listed. And no it doesn’t make you a good writer in the sense of writing things that are elegant or pleasing to read. It teaches you to write philosophy. As in doing the research, breaking down different arguments, anticipating different interlocutions, etc.

                  Philosophy majors are dramatically over represented among law school graduates so reasoning ability is pretty well established.

                  2 votes
            2. [7]
              LukeZaz
              Link Parent
              Worth remembering that part of the reason why teaching yourself programming is so viable is because programmers are a massive demographic online. This in turn means that finding resources for...

              Worth remembering that part of the reason why teaching yourself programming is so viable is because programmers are a massive demographic online. This in turn means that finding resources for learning programming online is absurdly easy, simply because there's so many people willing to teach it. Philosophy doesn't have nearly this much of a leg up, so I don't think it's fair to compare the two with regard to self-teaching.

              3 votes
              1. [6]
                skybrian
                Link Parent
                The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy seems pretty thorough, and there are also libraries, bookstores, and nowadays online courses. I haven't investigated how good those resources are, though.

                The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy seems pretty thorough, and there are also libraries, bookstores, and nowadays online courses. I haven't investigated how good those resources are, though.

                2 votes
                1. [5]
                  vord
                  (edited )
                  Link Parent
                  And you're right back to why you need philosophy majors and classes. That encyclopdia would not exist without them. Virtually none of the quality online resources would exist without them. I'd go...

                  And you're right back to why you need philosophy majors and classes.

                  That encyclopdia would not exist without them. Virtually none of the quality online resources would exist without them.

                  I'd go so far to say that expanding beyond the introductory classes as self-taught is sufficient. Having that mandatory class at the beginning as enough of a foundation for self-teaching to be far more effective.

                  And one thing I've noticed in US education... if you don't mandate it, there might not be any exposure at all.

                  3 votes
                  1. [4]
                    skybrian
                    Link Parent
                    I think this has drifted into “should there be professional scholars who study philosophy” and that’s not really the question I’m interested in. It’s more along the lines of whether education...

                    I think this has drifted into “should there be professional scholars who study philosophy” and that’s not really the question I’m interested in.

                    It’s more along the lines of whether education needs to be so expensive? It’s hard to see why studying philosophy should be expensive. (Or computer science for that matter.) Books and videos and computers aren’t that expensive nowadays, since they scale well - a few scholars can teach a lot of people that way. Lots of great educational materials are available for free. What’s missing?

                    Online college courses work for some, but not as well as their boosters hoped? You can say that something essential happens in in-person classes and maybe that’s true but it’s vague. What’s missing, exactly? I think if we really understood it, classes could be taught very differently.

                    5 votes
                    1. [2]
                      nukeman
                      Link Parent
                      The increasing costs of higher education seem to be a convergence of several factors: Cuts in state appropriations to public universities. Increasing numbers of students going to college; many of...

                      The increasing costs of higher education seem to be a convergence of several factors:

                      • Cuts in state appropriations to public universities.
                      • Increasing numbers of students going to college; many of whom are less well prepared than the “traditional” pre-1945 college demographic would be, meaning you need more support/administrative staff and offices.
                      • New federal, state, and accreditation regulations which necessitate more admin and compliance staff/offices.
                      • Better amenities, and I don’t just mean the lazy river example cited so frequently. Dorms and food are, according to some anecdotes I’ve heard, much better than those a few decades ago. The dorm I lived in my senior year was air-conditioned with private single bedrooms, apartment style.

                      Note that I didn’t mention high-level admin deans. While they do command premium salaries, they often only number in the single digits, versus tens to hundreds of the support staff they manage (who generally receive decent salaries that in aggregate outnumber the dean’s). Also keep in mind that the dean’s existence owes itself to the particular office.

                      3 votes
                      1. vord
                        Link Parent
                        Having worked behind the scenes at a large university....large swaths of admin staff could be pruned in short order if we nationalized the funding (fixed X per student) and abolished loans,...

                        New federal, state, and accreditation regulations which necessitate more admin and compliance staff/offices.

                        Having worked behind the scenes at a large university....large swaths of admin staff could be pruned in short order if we nationalized the funding (fixed X per student) and abolished loans, grants, and financial aid.

                        Accreditation and standards are a fine thing, but the intense bureaucracy surrounding funding makes things a mess.

                        4 votes
                    2. vord
                      Link Parent
                      Books and videos are the cheapest part of an education. Distribution is cheap...but the writing, editing, and updating process is expensive...especially since technology is progressing ever...

                      It’s more along the lines of whether education needs to be so expensive? It’s hard to see why studying philosophy should be expensive. (Or computer science for that matter.) Books and videos and computers aren’t that expensive nowadays, since they scale well - a few scholars can teach a lot of people that way. Lots of great educational materials are available for free. What’s missing?

                      Books and videos are the cheapest part of an education. Distribution is cheap...but the writing, editing, and updating process is expensive...especially since technology is progressing ever faster. Lectures of 1 professor to 100 students work OK for relatively simple things. As things get harder, more attention is needed per student for the student to actually learn anything but rote memorization. Any experienced educator will tell you how much quality of education starts to drop once you're exceeding 1 teacher per 20 students...especially for difficult material. Universities try to fill the gap with grad students and junior professors, but this comes with its own set of tradeoffs, especially since it's diverting one of the hardest parts (individual tutoring) to the least experienced.

                      A computer is cheap. Insuring said computer is not becoming a malware nightmare that infects a campus and wreaks havoc is not, especially for larger schools where the you could have 5,000 or more students per year.

                      Interacting with people online is not the same as over the phone or via a video call. The human element of presence should not be taken lightly. Therapists and psychologists will be the first to tell you how much more effective therapy is in-person. Online presence does not do well with side conversations and divergence from the script when it comes to teaching.

                      Adding online and remote possibilities for these things is a great thing, because it broadens the tent and makes it accessible to others whom might not be able to do in-person. But it's not a full replacement on its own, for everyone.

                      And at the end of the day...you need a robust system not just for general education, but for producing excellent educators to follow the existing ones.

                      1 vote
            3. [4]
              pallas
              Link Parent
              As someone who both is self-taught in programming and has some connections to computer science, I feel obligated to point out that computer programming/engineering and computer science are...

              As someone who both is self-taught in programming and has some connections to computer science, I feel obligated to point out that computer programming/engineering and computer science are different subjects, and I would argue that website misidentifies itself as being about computer science. This would perhaps be like civil engineering identifying itself as physics: they are both valuable, but they are not the same field.

              3 votes
              1. [3]
                skybrian
                Link Parent
                Most of the videos recommended are from corresponding CS courses at top universities. It was a long time ago, but I think they do cover much of what I learned studying computer science degree as...

                Most of the videos recommended are from corresponding CS courses at top universities. It was a long time ago, but I think they do cover much of what I learned studying computer science degree as an undergrad. In one case, even using the same textbook!

                (Graduate students study more advanced topics, though.)

                1. [2]
                  EgoEimi
                  Link Parent
                  I remember taking some intro to intermediate and some graduate courses at my university, which had a top 5 CS program. I distinctly remember taking an AI course where the professor began the...

                  I remember taking some intro to intermediate and some graduate courses at my university, which had a top 5 CS program.

                  I distinctly remember taking an AI course where the professor began the course by teaching linear classifiers in a very opaque way, starting with equations, biases, talking about "hyperplanes", etc. — getting into the mechanics without bothering to discuss the general concept. Because for him, it was trivial and elementary: but I remember in lab everyone being totally and utterly confused.

                  It took me five minutes to learn online that a linear classifier basically is a line that just see-saws around, making smaller and smaller swings with each step until it best divides two sets of points. Conceptually super simple. But the professor couldn't get the basic concept across in an hourlong lecture.

                  In my experience, all the real learning happened outside of the classroom: students learned from books and online sources, taught each other, slugged it out on machine problems in lab, and had their own side learning projects. The program was a top 5 CS program because it selected very strong and driven students who were going to learn the material one way or another; the main value the professors provided was writing syllabi that provided students a coherent journey map through a vast field of knowledge.

                  1 vote
                  1. skybrian
                    Link Parent
                    If the course provides the challenge you have to beat and the students teach each other, it seems like something that might somehow be done cheaply, if someone can figure out how to organize it.

                    If the course provides the challenge you have to beat and the students teach each other, it seems like something that might somehow be done cheaply, if someone can figure out how to organize it.

                    1 vote
          2. hungariantoast
            Link Parent
            All programmers are self-taught, some of them just get started in college.

            All programmers are self-taught, some of them just get started in college.

            5 votes
    2. [4]
      grahamiam
      Link Parent
      Think it would be remiss to not mention how much public funding of universities has declined as a problem leading up to current crisis....

      Think it would be remiss to not mention how much public funding of universities has declined as a problem leading up to current crisis.

      https://www.cbpp.org/research/state-budget-and-tax/state-higher-education-funding-cuts-have-pushed-costs-to-students - from 2019.

      10 votes
      1. EgoEimi
        Link Parent
        Per the source, Adjusted for inflation, and tuition has rapidly outpaced such shortfall.

        Per the source,

        Between school years 2008 to 2018, after adjusting for inflation:... On average, states spent $1,220, or 13 percent, less per student.

        Adjusted for inflation, and tuition has rapidly outpaced such shortfall.

        8 votes
      2. [2]
        vektor
        Link Parent
        Yeah. That leads pretty directly into the problems with tuition inflation. I'd say Germany has a pretty solid model (though not at the exclusion of some of our European neighbors, though I'm not...

        Yeah. That leads pretty directly into the problems with tuition inflation. I'd say Germany has a pretty solid model (though not at the exclusion of some of our European neighbors, though I'm not that familiar with other systems). Certainly not without fault, but would be a decent starting point.

        Universities here are relatively "service-less". Tuition is very low (250€ per semester or so, and that mostly goes towards admin fees and the included public transit ticket), but that really only allows you to

        • go to class
        • register for exams
        • collect your degree once you're done

        Everything else is extra, and imo that's alright like that. Housing? Yeah, unis operate student housing, but that's not really the norm. Food? The university sells subsidized lunches of decent-ish (depending on university) quality. This means that students have relatively speaking a lot of control over their expenses. If my budget requires, I can get a 400€/month job helping out in the university, live in 250€/month shitty housing and eat pasta at the university every day. Not pretty, but it'll do. The education is essentially free, it's your cost of living that's the liability here.

        Additionally, the student loan situation here is such: Loans are a thing. Called Bafög. They're heavily heavily subsidized. Interest free. Repayment caps out at 10,000€ I believe, everything after is free. Forgiveness is also a thing, I believe. The downside? Only for low income kids (and sometimes that can be hard to prove), and they only dispense a monthly maximum that is a touch on the low side of things. They're also a bit stingy if you decide to switch majors, I believe.

        I'm not saying it's perfect. There are problems here with upward social mobility that have everything to do with education. But it's a decent starting point. Certainly it's helped keep the cost of university under control.

        5 votes
        1. vord
          Link Parent
          In the US at least, there's immense "Keeping up with the Joneses" pressure on universities as they vie for top spots in rankings and prestige. On one hand, this can provide a rapid deployment of...

          In the US at least, there's immense "Keeping up with the Joneses" pressure on universities as they vie for top spots in rankings and prestige.

          On one hand, this can provide a rapid deployment of all sorts of state-of-the-art tech and beautiful campuses.

          Housing is the norm for a lot of US schools, in part due to travel for said prestiege. I think there's a lot of social benefit there from peer networking and having a clear break from your hometown and getting exposure to a bit more of the world.

          On the other hand, those things are immensely expensive, and require more non-teaching staff to maintain. A lab of 3D printers can require a dedicated staffer to keep on top of maintance and repair. Students expect campus-wide Wifi...now you need administrators capable of building it and keeping it running.

          3 votes
  2. MimicSquid
    Link
    As someone who worked my way through school and paid off my student loans myself... About fricking time. Student loan debt is a millstone around the neck of a generation. We should be paying for...

    As someone who worked my way through school and paid off my student loans myself...

    About fricking time. Student loan debt is a millstone around the neck of a generation. We should be paying for the people of our great nation to develop the skills that we all need them to have, and this is a step in the right direction.

    17 votes
  3. [5]
    hamstergeddon
    Link
    I just paid mine off within the last year, so I'm a tiny bit bummed that this won't help me at all, but I am still very glad it will help others in need.

    I just paid mine off within the last year, so I'm a tiny bit bummed that this won't help me at all, but I am still very glad it will help others in need.

    14 votes
    1. [4]
      stu2b50
      Link Parent
      If you paid it while student loans were on forbearance, you can request a refund on your payments (eg the loan principle will go back up and they’ll cut you a check for the amount). You would then...

      If you paid it while student loans were on forbearance, you can request a refund on your payments (eg the loan principle will go back up and they’ll cut you a check for the amount). You would then be able to get that forgiven.

      20 votes
      1. kfwyre
        Link Parent
        Whoa, really? That's huge! I also paid mine off during the pandemic. Definitely going to look into doing this.

        Whoa, really? That's huge!

        I also paid mine off during the pandemic. Definitely going to look into doing this.

        5 votes
      2. [2]
        elcuello
        Link Parent
        Can you ELI5 that? Seems counter intuitive that a loan on forbearance is eligible for this. I probably just don't really understand it giving that I just learned the word now.

        Can you ELI5 that? Seems counter intuitive that a loan on forbearance is eligible for this. I probably just don't really understand it giving that I just learned the word now.

        1 vote
        1. stu2b50
          Link Parent
          I'm not really sure it's a matter of intuition - it's just a generous provision of the federal student loan relief. The intention is that you won't be punished for making loan payments by the lack...

          I'm not really sure it's a matter of intuition - it's just a generous provision of the federal student loan relief. The intention is that you won't be punished for making loan payments by the lack of liquidity - e.g you make some payments during forbearance, oops your car got wrecked in an accident, well, sure would be nice to have that money you put into your temporarily 0% interest loan.

          The site is hugged to death right now, so webarchive: https://web.archive.org/web/20211104184211/https://studentaid.gov/announcements-events/covid-19/payment-pause-zero-interest

          Refunds During the Payment Pause

          You can receive a refund for any payment (including auto-debit payments) you make during the payment suspension (beginning March 13, 2020). Contact your loan servicer to request that your payment be refunded.

          That being said, this is definitely something you should talk to your loan servicer in detail with to make absolutely sure it'll work as you expect.

          2 votes
  4. nacho
    Link
    Looks like a huge improvement. Now do something similar for all the people who don't end up in college for whatever reason. That group is just as important. It's a different voting group too. If...

    Looks like a huge improvement.

    Now do something similar for all the people who don't end up in college for whatever reason. That group is just as important. It's a different voting group too.

    If this ends up being a benefit only for those who've made it to/through college without reforming college financing outright, that money should have been spent on those who need it more and are worse off (and in many cases also young)

    13 votes
  5. Arshan
    Link
    Well, this should cut my loans in over half, which is genuinely great! Its definitely one of the biggest benefits the government has provided everyone under ?30/35?. The part that covers interest...

    Well, this should cut my loans in over half, which is genuinely great! Its definitely one of the biggest benefits the government has provided everyone under ?30/35?. The part that covers interest if your making payments is also a really big benefit that can really reduce the risk of getting trapped.

    12 votes
  6. stu2b50
    Link
    Wow, lots in here. 20k forgiveness for pell grant holders, and 10k forgiveness for general federal student loan holders (if you make <125k single or 250k household). Perhaps even bigger, IBR...

    Wow, lots in here. 20k forgiveness for pell grant holders, and 10k forgiveness for general federal student loan holders (if you make <125k single or 250k household).

    Perhaps even bigger, IBR (Income Based Repayment) got a huge facelift, and this one will apply forever (? well, at least until the next president decides they don't like it cough pls vote cough).

    • Require borrowers to pay no more than 5% of their discretionary income monthly on undergraduate loans. This is down from the 10% available under the most recent income-driven repayment plan.

    • Raise the amount of income that is considered non-discretionary income and therefore is protected from repayment, guaranteeing that no borrower earning under 225% of the federal poverty level—about the annual equivalent of a $15 minimum wage for a single borrower—will have to make a monthly payment.

    • Forgive loan balances after 10 years of payments, instead of 20 years, for borrowers with loan balances of $12,000 or less.

    • Cover the borrower's unpaid monthly interest, so that unlike other existing income-driven repayment plans, no borrower's loan balance will grow as long as they make their monthly payments—even when that monthly payment is $0 because their income is low.

    Cut the payment on discretionary income in half, raised the income limit for no payments ($15/hr is now the cutoff), 10 year forgiveness, no principal gain from interest as long as borrower is making payments.

    11 votes
  7. [2]
    grahamiam
    (edited )
    Link
    Wanted to share the ProPublica database of all PPP recipients. If you are having a conversation with someone upset about this student loan bailout, you might use the PPP database as a comparison....

    Wanted to share the ProPublica database of all PPP recipients. If you are having a conversation with someone upset about this student loan bailout, you might use the PPP database as a comparison.

    https://projects.propublica.org/coronavirus/bailouts/

    The top says it's amounts over $150k but that's not accurate, even amounts as little as $5k show up. Very amused by the person in my hometown who got $15k for his cattle ranching business where he was the only employee.

    Anyways, could this money have targeted people in even more financially difficult situations? Sure. Is this going to do anything longterm without addressing the root causes of why tuition is so high? Probably not. But is it a better expenditure than a lot of handouts businesses get every year with much less hand-wringing? To me, undoubtedly.

    11 votes
    1. AnthonyB
      Link Parent
      Huh. I saw some figures going around related to right wing pundits who frequently criticize "government handouts" but I didn't realize how extensive this database was until your comment. Turns out...

      Huh. I saw some figures going around related to right wing pundits who frequently criticize "government handouts" but I didn't realize how extensive this database was until your comment.

      Turns out the restaurant I work for took $1.2m from this program in order to cover payroll. I need to do a little more digging because I didn't start until 2021, but on the surface this seems like bullshit. This is one of the stingiest places I've ever worked at in terms of hours and pay, and it's also one of the most successful places I've ever worked at, so seeing that figure definitely raised my eyebrows.

      4 votes
  8. [4]
    Eric_the_Cerise
    Link
    I have a friend who owes almost $200k, with something like 80-90% of which is interest, fines, etc. For her, this will be a drop in the bucket. I thought an awful lot of people were in the "$50k+"...
    • Exemplary

    I have a friend who owes almost $200k, with something like 80-90% of which is interest, fines, etc. For her, this will be a drop in the bucket.

    I thought an awful lot of people were in the "$50k+" range. How much help is this for them? Even the "pay 10 years and forgive the rest" part is capped at $12k.

    6 votes
    1. [2]
      stu2b50
      Link Parent
      The two new IBR provisions will be of help to them. Maximum minimum monthly payments will be capped at 5% of discretionary income instead of 10%. If you make the monthly payments, however low they...

      The two new IBR provisions will be of help to them. Maximum minimum monthly payments will be capped at 5% of discretionary income instead of 10%. If you make the monthly payments, however low they may be, the government will pay any remaining interest - meaning the principal cannot grow from interest anymore if you make payments. The old 20 year rule still applies - although presumably the tax bomb is still there. But better than having the debt forever.

      That being said, from my experience you'd have trouble getting 200k in loans without a lot of private loans, and unfortunately, the executive branch has little oversight over a private business agreement signed and approved by both parties.

      8 votes
      1. NaraVara
        Link Parent
        Yeah I think the only people who end up with debt burdens that big are people who take out loans for medical school or law school. There definitely is a big problem with people who have to drop...

        That being said, from my experience you'd have trouble getting 200k in loans without a lot of private loans, and unfortunately, the executive branch has little oversight over a private business agreement signed and approved by both parties.

        Yeah I think the only people who end up with debt burdens that big are people who take out loans for medical school or law school. There definitely is a big problem with people who have to drop out of those programs late being up a creek. Also there has been a massive over-production of law school grads over the past 20 or so years so job prospects and incomes of JDs have collapsed below the ability for anyone who didn't graduate into an AmLaw 100 firm and stay in it for 5-10 years to be able to pay off.

        2 votes
    2. gpl
      Link Parent
      It could and probably should have been more. That being said, the median amount owed by borrowers with debt is about $20k, so this forgiveness will be helping lots and lots of people.

      It could and probably should have been more. That being said, the median amount owed by borrowers with debt is about $20k, so this forgiveness will be helping lots and lots of people.

      6 votes