Friday, January 28, 2011

Win the Future of Higher Education

Recently I have seen and heard several news stories asking if college is a smart investment these days.  I have struggled with this question since I began considering my collegiate plans.  I did end up going to the University of Evansville and earning an Honors Bachelor of Science degree, cum laude, majoring in Cognitive Science, minoring in Psychology and Philosophy, and concentrating in Political Science and Computer Science.  On the pro side, I met my wife and several other great friends at UE, and I learned a lot.  On the con side, since graduating college, I have only worked in jobs that I could have just as easily worked in before I even graduated high school.  I have also been struggling to gain admittance to graduate school.

The State of the Union Address got me thinking more about this issue, and I have come up with an idea for an improved system of educational investment.

Here is an outline of my idea:

  • Students are admitted to colleges based on performance in high school.  Below a certain level of performance, students must take classes-for-money before they are permitted to enroll in college proper.
  • Once in college, students pay tuition and fees based on performance.  The better a student performs, the less (s)he has to pay to continue college.  If a student falls below a certain level of performance, that student is expelled.  (S)he must take expensive remedial classes before being readmitted.
  • Businesses hire students directly from college.  Students may continue college until they accept an offer of employment, provided their performance allows continued studies.  Each class costs money, the amount based on individual student performance.
  • Education is financed by loans that are interest-free while the students are enrolled.  When the students leave college, by being hired, expelled, or otherwise, their loans begin to accrue interest.  If and when a student reenrolls, his/her accrued interest is maintained, but no further interest accrues while (s)he remains in school.
*Note: After I began this article, but before I finished it, I came across an article in The Consumerist about a similar plan being applied to a gym: New Gym Business Model: Work Out More, Pay Less.

Friday, January 21, 2011

NCAA Indiana Hoosiers

Last night Sarah and I watched the Michigan State Spartans defeat the Indiana Hoosiers by 14 points. The game had a closer spread than I had anticipated. I was expecting the Hoosiers to get crimson-and-creamed, but they almost held their own. The game wasn't particularly exciting, but for most of the game, there was still a glimmer of hope for a possible rally.

If you follow NCAA basketball, you're probably double-checking the timestamp on this article for the date. Yep, it says 2011 January 21. And on 2011 January 20 the Indiana Hoosiers lost by 9 points to the Wisconsin Badgers.

Not only do schools have the same name and mascot across sports, but for most, if not all sports, many schools make the men's and women's teams share names and mascots. Okay, whatever. Who cares? Not me.

But I do care that sports are segregated by gender. When I was investigating the parking situation at Indiana University's Assembly Hall, I came across this front-page article in the Indiana Daily Student: Attendance at women’s basketball games continues to lag. The headline only surprised me by being portrayed as front-page news. I have never seen a well-attended women's basketball game. Even the WNBA struggles to attract attendees.

Sexist prejudices, I'm sure, are largely to blame. A quick glance through the comments at the bottom of the aforementioned IDS article supports that assertion. In sports, women are allegedly less interesting to watch and less competitive than men.

This allegation is bullshit. I hereby propose a solution: integrate sports. Men and women should play professional sports on the same field at the same time. Not a men-vs-women situation; women and men should be on teams together.

If women's sports are less interesting and competitive than men's sports, the real catalyst is likely motivation. If you are a competitive interesting woman, why would you want to play to stadiums that are only filled to half-a-percent of capacity?

If you put a competitive, interesting woman on a men's basketball team, though, you will sell out your season.

Integrate sports. Please.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

A Sustainable Orphanage

Lately I've been pondering what to do with the rest of my life if I don't manage to overcome the seemingly insurmountable odds against me getting into a graduate program that I want to pursue.

A dream that my wife and I have shared since before we met has been to improve the adoption system.

Andrew Sullivan at the Daily Dish has recently taken up this issue in a series called The Missing.

This week I have just a question.  How could we build a sustainable orphanage without relying on government subsidies or grants?

The question is not rhetorical.  If someone presents an answer that I agree with and am capable of, I will start that orphanage.