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Aug 10, 2017
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Jay Stephens

Jay Stephens went into her elite liberal arts college a social justice warrior....and graduated as a get-off-my-lawn conservative. How did that happen? Watch Jay's story.

MYTH: Colleges embrace and promote diversity. REALITY: College faculty lean overwhelmingly left, offering little intellectual diversity.

  • In 2014, only 12% of college professors in the U.S. claimed to be either far right or conservative, as opposed to 60% claiming to be far left or liberal.View Source
  • Most conservative faculty on campus come from professional or engineering schools. The percentage of conservative faculty drops close to 5% in social science and humanities departments.View Source
  • In a study for Policy Review, Dr. Paul Kengor examined the intellectual diversity of top universities. He found that Stanford University’s history department has 22 Democrats and 2 Republicans. Cornell University has no Republicans and 29 Democrats. The worst disparity came from the University of Colorado, Boulder. Of the 190 professors polled across the social science and humanities departments, only 6 were Republicans while 184 were Democrats.View Source
  • Related reading: “The Closing of the Liberal Mind” – Kim R. HolmesView Source

The value of a college degree is rapidly eroding due to rising student loan debt and the proliferation of nonpractical degrees. 

  • As college costs have risen, wages have stagnated, meaning the value of a degree is rapidly eroding.View Source
  • But don’t college graduates make $1 million dollars more over their lifetime than non-graduates? This is true, but it doesn’t take into account that many smart, driven people go to college, and the economy tends to award these people.View Source
  • Instead of teaching critical thinking and other skills that might be valuable outside the academy, liberal arts colleges teach an anti-problem-solving approach, as Jay Stephens notes: “Any attempt to get to the actual root of a problem was generally seen as problematic too, and a politically correct policing was instituted to hinder any real solutions of important issues.”View Source
  • Related reading: “The Closing of the American Mind” – Allan BloomView Source

The government’s inflation of the cost of college only makes it less likely that a student will turn a profit from an education. 

  • Much of the increase in college costs, which lowers the chance that a degree will turn a profit for the student, have been inflated by government subsidies and loans.View Source
  • While some degrees in fields such as nursing and engineering can have a good return on investment, degrees in the social sciences or humanities, which many students choose, have a very poor return. Women’s studies and psychology careers offer average starting salaries less than $24,000 and low ROIs of $131-$185,000 over 20 years.View Source
  • Related reading: “Going Broke By Degree: Why College Costs too Much” – Richard VedderView Source

Why is college so expensive? Government subsidies and loans, which inflate college profits and hide the real costs from students. 

  • Government subsidies have inflated college profits, which are often spent on non-education-related amenities, such as lounging pools and jacuzzis.View Source
  • Since 1980, overall inflation in the economy has been 160 percent, while the cost of college has increased by 287 percent.View Source
  • According to research from the National Bureau of Economic Research, which studied the relationship between increased financial aid and tuition costs, “These results accord strongly with the Bennett hypothesis, which asserts that colleges respond to expansions of financial aid by increasing tuition.”View Source

Since 1980, the cost of college has inflated at nearly twice the rate as the economy.

  • Since 1980, overall inflation in the economy has been 160 percent, while the cost of college has increased by 287 percent. Medical care is the only industry with a higher rate at 425 percent. Both industries have been heavily subsidized by the government.View Source
  • In his book Going Broke By Degree: Why College Costs Too Much, economist Richard Vedder writes, "Students receiving grants or subsidized loans are far less sensitive to tuition increases than they would be if they were paying their own way."View Source

In the last 25 years, the cost of state universities has increased 100%; private colleges have nearly tripled in price.

  • In 2015, four-year private universities cost an average of $42,500 per year, three times the price in 1990 and almost a year's median household income. Costs for state schools have increased 100 percent over the last 25 years.View Source
  • According to research from the National Bureau of Economic Research, which studied the relationship between increased financial aid and tuition costs, “These results accord strongly with the Bennett hypothesis, which asserts that colleges respond to expansions of financial aid by increasing tuition.”View Source
  • Related reading: “Going Broke By Degree: Why College Costs too Much” – Richard VedderView Source

Student debt is crippling, not just for the student but also for the taxpayer—90% of student loans come from the federal government.

  • Around 90 percent of student loans come from the federal government, and private loans are a very small share of the market. Due to extremely lenient loan programs, the taxpayer often ends up with the burden of paying back the loan.View Source
  • As the government continues to make loans easier to obtain, the left has called these lending programs “predatory,” excusing personal responsibility and undermining the programs themselves.View Source
  • Most “full time” college students only spend 2.76 hours per day on anything education-related. This explains why so many stay past four years and continue to rack up debt.View Source
  • Related reading: “Going Broke By Degree: Why College Costs too Much” – Richard VedderView Source

One of the big reasons colleges are able to keep hiking up tuition is the federal government’s overly “generous” student loan program.

  • In his book Going Broke By Degree: Why College Costs Too Much, economist Richard Vedder says, "Students receiving grants or subsidized loans are far less sensitive to tuition increases than they would be if they were paying their own way."View Source
  • Around 90 percent of student loans come from the federal government, and private loans are a very small share of the market. Due to extremely lenient loan programs, the taxpayer often ends up with the burden of paying back the loan.View Source
  • Related reading: “What Happens When College is Free? The Results Are Underwhelming” - AEIView Source

Conservative students across the country are increasingly marginalized on college campuses—and often by the faculty. 

  • Sociologist James Wright: “We (sociologists) tend to confuse identity politics with social theory, and mistake partisan advocacy for serious scientific analysis.”View Source
  • Progressives promote diversity only in gender and race, not ideas. George Yancey, a black, evangelical sociologist on the problems of diversity in academia: “Outside of academia I faced more problems as a black, but inside academia I face more problems as a Christian, and it is not even close.”View Source
  • At Kellogg Community College in Battle Creek Michigan, a group of students were arrested for handing out U.S. Constitutions, in the same place where a campus LGBT group was previously operating.View Source
  • Lee Bass was going to donate $20 million to his alma mater, Yale university, if they introduced a Western Civilization class. The university refused the gift, with one professor claiming, “Western Civilization? Why not a chair for colonialism, slavery, empire and poverty?”View Source
  • Omar Mahmood, a writer for a University of Michigan campus newspaper, was removed from his post after lampooning political correctness by claiming right-handed people were committing micro-aggressions towards left handed people.View Source
  • Foreign policy teaching at overwhelmingly liberal schools influences students in favor of anti-US foreign interests. Before the 2009 presidential election in El Salvador, Latin American professors lobbied the Obama administration to not criticize Marxist guerrilla groups in the country.View Source

Have you ever heard the old saying that a conservative is just a liberal who got mugged?

Well, I got mugged – to the tune of $60,000 a year. It’s called “tuition.”

Like everyone who cons themselves into attending a liberal arts college, I was captivated by the idea of changing the world. I would immerse myself in a diverse pool of academic thought, theory, and action.

Well…it didn’t quite work out that way.

Over the course of four years, I was transformed from a plucky, free-thinking free spirit into a cranky, get-off-my-lawn conservative.

The process started not long after I arrived at my elite East Coast school. I thought I was there to expand my knowledge of the world; to debate the great ideas. I soon realized, however, that my professors had something else in mind.

Invariably each class followed the same monotonous ritual: identify a problem – say, racism; blow it up beyond all proportion; blame the problem on the white majority culture; and then offer an unworkable solution – usually involving the government. 

Everywhere I turned, I saw political correctness. At first, I just rolled with it. Then, I got annoyed. Then, it started to tick me off.

I was being brainwashed.

Indoctrinated.

And I was paying for the privilege – with borrowed money!

Almost every speaker who came to campus was a leftist journalist, a leftist activist, or a leftist professor from another leftist school.

The ones who weren’t leftists were just weird. One time, I attended a film lecture given by a very skilled paraplegic adult film star who showed us some of her “art.” Another time, I went to a performance given by a woman who engaged in auto-eroticism behind a curtain.

I couldn’t deal with it – the PC culture, the mono thinking, the weirdness.  I needed some way to cope. So, I got high – almost every day.

Parenthetically, most of the worst stoners I knew are now working in finance or politics. In fact, this is what made me first realize that I was a fan of limited government. I do not trust these goofs to make policy. Their power must be constrained.

This brings me to another black hole in the college experience: useless majors – the only thing more pervasive than marijuana and irresponsible future leaders. I'm not being judgmental here: I have a degree in film and media studies and political science. Why did I choose them? Because they’re subjects I like talking about. Practical, right?

But I was not alone. Most of my peers also chose to spend their student loan money on subjects better learned on YouTube or Turner Classic Movies.

By the time graduation approached, none of us had developed any actual job skills.

And people want to raise taxes to pay for free college for everyone? Are you kidding me? No. Just…no. I'd only give a free education to a smart kid who promised to get a degree in whatever the exact opposite of my degree is.

And that degree didn’t come cheap.

I took on tens of thousands of dollars of debt, but never spent a minute learning how to manage it. No such classes were offered. I might have actually learned something useful if they had been.

I didn't learn about taxes either, other than that the rich didn’t pay their “fair share.”

It was only after college, when I was lucky enough to get my first job, that I discovered the truth: the government takes away a lot of your money. Frankly, it’s shocking. And that’s not even counting the mandatory $400 a month deduction for my student loans. I’ll be probably have that albatross around my neck for the rest of my life. 

Really, I can’t believe my peers and I spent so much time shaming conservatives for wanting to lower taxes.

A past version of myself would call this desire to keep what I earn “selfish.” The current, cheerfully realistic version of me knows this: I can spend my money much better than the politically-correct stoners who are running the government can.

So, I guess – in a roundabout way – I did get something of value out of my expensive liberal arts education after all:

Common sense.

I’m Jay Stephens for Prager University.

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