I was skimming my news feed in Facebook just now and looked over into the sidebar. Right under the nagging ‘suggestions’ (You haven’t talked to Dennis O’Brien on Facebook lately! Send him a message!) was an ad that read
Obama asks moms to return to school. Finish your degree – Financial aid available to those who qualify. See degrees now from ClassesUSA
Right away my head started screaming. I saw about fifteen things wrong with that little ad all at once, and even now I don’t know where to start.
First, they appeal to the national fervor–which seems quite a bit dissipated of late–for President Obama as an agent of change. It’s this odd cross being jingoism and hero-worship that makes me remember stories in books where citizens of a nationalistic land with a charismatic leader pattern their life choices upon propaganda campaigns designed around said leader and nation. I could name many examples but I won’t because the purpose here is not to liken President Obama to those leaders or the USA under his leadership to those nations. But that feel of goading is the same sort of creepily demanding that individuals subsume their free will to the desires of the nation and its charming head of state.
Then there’s the whole issue of asking moms to return to school. It implies that motherhood is a cul-de-sac on the road of life, a crippling waystation that keeps you from being all you can be. For your leader and your country. And it further implies that School is the way to better your life.
Education is. And most often for most people that education is found in a school. I love the idea and process and result of learning. But this trend, cresting now in the early part of the 21st century is the belief that any sort of schooling and any sort of degree is the same as any other, is ruining the institution of learning by creating a system of education inflation. Just as a dollar is not worth what it was in 1950, neither is a college degree. With for-profit Me-niversities crammed into every major marketplace in the United States, school is less and less about educating and more about receiving a credential for employment or ego satisfaction. These schools don’t offer true education along the same lines as the universities of the past have done, and the universities with strong histories of legitimate tutelage continue to strive for. Yet a graduate of the Hollywood Upstairs Medical College claims a degree conferring the same degree of legitimacy as one from a centuries-old state four-year institution with a tuition amounting to half the cost. I’ve had more than one conversation with young women (mothers, ironically) planning to go back to “school” and trying to get the tens of thousands of dollars it would cost to get one of these University of High Tech Career College degrees. None of them realised that they could get into MTSU for a fraction of the price. MTSU doesn’t advertise as heavily.
And that’s the other problem. The whole thing about “Financial aid being available to those who qualify.” And I know I’ve had a lot to say, but if you read anything here please know this is the most important thing. Right now we’re trying very hard to pull out of a recession caused by people borrowing against home values and living off that money. Money that couldn’t be recouped by the banks once the inflated home values dropped to zero.
From everything I’ve been reading and seeing of late, the Student Loan is in many ways the new subprime mortgage. The idea behind student loans is great. These loans are supposed to level the playing field a bit and make it possible for people without ready funds to be able to get an education. When student loans were created there was much talk of hard-working guys and gals from poor families using these funds–relatively easily obtained to anyone who was able to get into a college or university–to pull themselves up by the bootstraps. Better-educated citizens make for a better country. But now it has changed. The for-profit Me-versities will accept anyone who can pay. And with one of these loans, anyone can pay. And if you get a loan a lot of people are being told they can use that money for not only tuition and books but living expenses as well. So now there are men and women from all corners of society borrowing thousands upon thousands of dollars to pay for worthless degrees. And also borrowing thousands more to underwrite their lifestyles while they get those degrees. The thinking is that they will be able to pay back the money once they have the ‘better’ job such degrees will confer. Unfortunately part of the education of the real world is that the majority of credentials from those institutions don’t translate into higher earnings. And these loans cannot be escaped through bankruptcy or foreclosure. If you’ve got a student loan there’s no getting out from under it.
This ad is designed in a few simple words to make women feel inferior because of their life choice and then force them into choosing another path by using bullying concepts like “for your country” or “for the President”.
Women, live by the choices that satisfy you. President Obama doesn’t even know who you are and it costs less than a loan.