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Examine the expectations and inferences underlying selected job positions. Consider timely topics in career preparation and the struggle for fulfilling employment. Analyze what could be improved in either situation. If this blog reminds you too much of work, then peruse my namesake blog for lighter fare.

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Thursday, September 19, 2013

Federal Department of Education Considers University Studies as Producing "Non-Gainful" Employment

Information for Financial Aid Professionals (IFAP) -- an appropriate double entendre, considering what financial aid specialists do when they reach a new financial aid disbursement record -- released an opinion letter regarding the implementation of the following U.S. Department of Education gainful employment (GE) regulations approved October 29, 2010 and effective July, 2011.

The IFAP summary provides insight about how much of a waste the Department of Education tacitly considers certain tertiary education programs to be! Which programs? The breadth of this classification may surprise you!

Department of Education Defines Gainful Employment Programs

The following excerpts from those regulations speak volumes:

Excerpt 1
Non-GE Domestic Public and Domestic Nonprofit Institutions
"Programs that lead to a degree, including associate's degrees, bachelor's degrees, graduate degrees, and professional degrees."

Excerpt 2
GE Program Information to Disclose
"The job placement rate for students completing the program."

Note the Department of Education is holding the privately funded or "proprietary" educational institutions to a double standard of all-encompassing GE regulations, whereas the tax-funded or "nonprofit" educational institutions get a free pass to ignore GE regulations throughout their baccalaureate and advanced degree programs (as well as for associate degrees and other courses creditable towards a four-year or higher degree).

This is an arbitrary distinction; comparable curricula, faculty, and facilities should result in comparable levels of gainful or non-gainful employment, irrespective of funding mechanism. And if you take seriously the caterwauling by public higher education administrators and nonprofit faculty, then you refuse to demand evidence that higher instructor compensation equals superior graduates; the institutional fallacy stands.

The appeal to fairness for faculty -- in a system that is inherently unfair to those who pay money to be in the presence of the same -- rests not upon absolute quality but on relative compensation in comparison to what for-profit schools pay their academic staff. Again, this logic -- that higher compensation should reasonably be expected to attract superior educators -- has weak empirical findings at best. The unsupported affirmative is the argument touted by academic staff at public universities when it comes time to whine about how they need raises "to maintain quality of education."

So by that standard, the public educator advocating for a pay increase to maintain competitiveness with his or her private-sector counterparts either feels the for-profit schools are indeed acquiring better instructors than are found among public sector peers -- or that money-grubbing public educator is disingenuously claiming impaired quality of instructors, degraded student achievements, and loss of academic reputation at his or her institution when none of those imagined injuries are perceived by interested would-be students, let alone resembling anywhere close to reality.

02-18-2014 Update:
Directly from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) client services help files maintained at, the formula used by FAA to compute comparative value of educational credentials is:

"Four years of progressive study, or 120 semester hours, meets the degree requirements. For study at a business, technical or trade school, 36 weeks of study (20+ classroom hours per week) is comparable to 1 post-secondary academic year."

Federal Aviation Administration Rules Trade School as More Impactful per Credit than University Studies

For those needing a simpler interpretation: Half a year of trade school in any vocational program is weighed as heavily by the FAA as an entire year of university studies. What does that tell you about how ill-positioned liberal arts graduates are to be employed? And it's not just the Federal Aviation Administration but also the Department of Education and IFAP saying this.

It immediately becomes clear that degree programs from a public institution WOULD NOT be considered by the Department of Education as leading to gainful employment, if the private sector standard had been applied! Why do tax-funded universities get a pass on providing job placement statistics when they are technically classified by the DoE as "leading to gainful employment" -- and why is this discrepancy ignored by the mainstream media and by educational journalists? Who's paying them off?

The higher education hucksters do, simply by manufacturing an endless supply of politically "progressive" journalism grads and sympathetic readers who will turn off their critical thinking and toe the line on political correctness just to get an internship or to fit in with their brainwashed peers. Not beholden to the university propagandists, I may very well be the first blogger to have mentioned the DoE, IFAP, and FAA all commenting on the superiority of vo-tech school as career preparation vis-à-vis university studies.

So the next time an educator or career counselor drops a factoid about "higher mean income" for college graduates, you can fire right back with the indisputable fact that the Department of Education classifies state university degree programs as "non-gainful employment" programs. The entire public -- and especially every naive youth who INFERS occupational promises from college programs which have NO JOB PLACEMENT STATISTICS -- deserves to know this.

Joseph Ohler's Affiliate Click-for-Cash Program

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