Alumna Blues

tjndc5-5kc289a39ef193u0weco_original-2According to CNN, a recent IT graduate of New York's Monroe College is suing the institution for $72,000 – her entire tuition plus $2,000 – because, she claims, Monroe's "Office of Career Advancement did not help me with a full-time job placement. I am also suing them because of the stress I have been going through." The college denies her allegation, naturally. But according to the former student, 27-year-old Trina Thompson of the Bronx: "They're supposed to say, 'I got this student, her attendance is good, her GPA is all right -- can you interview this person?' They're not doing that."

While headlines such as CNN's – "Alumna sues college because she hasn't found a job" – suggest that Thompson is demanding that the college place her, she's actually suing, as noted above, because the school didn't do enough to help her find employment in this horrible economic climate. goes deeper, in that way it has, and examines whether students such as Thompson actually profit economically by attending college rather than by joining the work force earlier. The (anonymous?) blogger's take is well worth reading:

Certainly, suing colleges is not a very effective way to address lower-class unemployment. But there's a real question as to whether going to college—or going to the kinds of colleges most lower-class people can afford, and plunging into debt to do so—is an effective way to address lower-class unemployment, either. For decades, America's working class has been told that the way to cope with the labour market dislocation caused by globalisation—that is, with the fact that Chinese workers have taken all the factory jobs—is to get an education. For most poor people in New York, that doesn't mean Columbia, or for that matter the State University of New York. It means Monroe College, Apex Technical School, Kaplan University, and the other places one sees advertising on the subway for degrees as a medical secretary, HVAC technician, and so on. Many of these are good technical schools with high job-placement rates. But vocational and technical schools in America tend to set students back $60,000 or more for a bachelor's degree, and there are no guarantees. This isn't the only possible way to do things; in Germany's extensive vocational education system, employers are obliged by law to set aside a certain ratio of apprenticeships, so students will have someplace to go after they graduate. Obviously, the American economy is not set up that way. We have an entrepreneurial, no-guarantees, take-what-you-can-get economic culture, and it is hardly surprising that people want to get their money's worth.