Education


I just read an article that Wal-Mart is going to offer it’s employees a college program!

Wow, environmental stewards, cheap prescriptions AND they want to educate society for the better! What good guys!

From an article in the New York Times: “With the work credits and tuition discount, an associate’s degree for a Wal-Mart or Sam’s Club cashier would cost about $11,700 and a bachelor’s degree about $24,000.”

So, although this healthcare deprived college grad enjoys cheap prescriptions from Wal-Mart, I’ve been annoyed at their greenwashing in the past but this put me over the edge. If you disagree and want to point out the good that Wal-Mart does, please enlighten me. I’d appreciate a little hope.

Why would it make sense for Wal-Mart to give you a degree that is actually going to take you places? Is this Wal-Mart taking advantage of their employees who have little education and who maybe don’t have the resources to uncover their scams? What is the back door deal of Wal-Mart pushing all of these new “students” to this ONE university? The only one that benefits from this, in my opinion, is Wal-Mart and the business of shady online colleges who want to use this as an opportunity to dig in the pockets of those with dreams of finally being able to obtain higher education. It’s wrong and terrible.

Take a look at tuition here. They have some nice low prices listed and have said “We do not want costs to get in the way of your education. We have streamlined our tuition and fees to make it easy for you to estimate and cover any expenses. “ Prices by credits are listed but it doesn’t have a hard cost per semester. That doesn’t sound so streamlined to me so I dug a little more…

Cost for two semesters of 12 credit -$6,000

My own bachelors degree cost me about $10,000 less than the cost of a degree from this online college. I also had financial aid but my university at least had standards and requirements for acceptance to receive that financial aid. I also received a lot more than an online classroom. To name a few: a physical location, classroom techonologies, numerous physical support services and offices, student activities, a membership to the rec center, computer support, athletic events, access to free rental hardware, HOUSING AND BOARD FOR A YEAR, etc.

Is Wal-Mart educating their workers on the real cost of education after loan interest? Lets take a look:

Lets say you make $30,000 when you graduate.

With an interest rate of 6.8%, your $24,000 bachelors degree accumulates with interest to $33,143. This ends in a payment of $276/month over ten years.

If you were to receive $14,000 in government subsidized loans, ( I chose Subsidized Stafford Loans for Undergraduate School) with an interest rate of 5.6%, and took out additional loans with the 6.8% rate, the total cost comes to $28,675, with monthly payments of $268.

I found these figures using an application on the College Board Website. That’s ten years of payments that a Wal-Mart employee (because they’re not promised better jobs or higher pay by doing this program) must afford for their online education.

While doing my own college search when I was in high school, I wanted to see the products of the university so I looked up alumni…Lets take a look at APU alumni:

As you will notice, most are all military accomplishments, completed by doing the military, not APU. These people could have done ROTC at a physical location of a college or university but these physical schools, unlike APU, require standards; a high school diploma, test scores of some sort, etc. This would be a perfect option for those in the military who don’t have these qualifications, which MIGHT fit a few Wal-Mart employees but if you look at the degrees of some of these “success” stories, very few of them are going to be earned by being a cashier at Wal-Mart (M.A. in Military Studies, B.A. in Criminal Justice with Honors, B.A. in Psychology with Honors, M.A. in International Relations and Conflict Resolution with Honors)

Some of the milestones:

  • Class of 2010 – Matthew W. Mehalick (AMU student M.A. Environmental Policy and Management) was recently engaged to Lindsay Nanz. The wedding is planned for October 2010.
  • Mike E. Sanders (AMU student M.A. in Sports Management) ran with his wingman for the finish line during the Air Force Half Marathon on Sept. 19, 2009. Sergeant Sanders finished the event under the 1:40:00 barrier, and only one year and eight months after beating cancer. He was promoted to Senior Master Sergeant on December 1, 2009.

Good accomplishments, that’s great. But really, you don’t need to pay $33,000 to do these things. I will say most of my facts on here came from the APU website and the NYT article. I looked on the Wal-Mart site and there was a link to the online college, APU, and another link only for employees so please feel free to comment and make any corrections in this post.

In conclusion, this post isn’t meant to degrade any employee of Wal-Mart. This is actually speaking up for them. It’s also speaking against the corporation that the educational system has become. I’ve participated in it and in a recent blog, you can read more about my own opinions from my experience but if I can say anything positive at all about the high price of education, I can say the networking and the people have made me successful.

You are a product of the people you experience in your lifetime and this is important to realize.  The educational experience should include personal interaction that is not found in front of a computer screen.

If a degree is really important to you, where there is a will, there is a way and community college is a great choice to get started. If I need to tell you a story of a mom with several children that managed to earn a degree, I will, but I think we’ve all heard it before.  If you just want to learn for self-growth and only have time to do it online, there are free online courses and lectures from prestigious universities. We’ve become a society where we want instant results. We want to earn money quickly and easily.

In reality, true pleasure comes as a byproduct of hard work, discomfort and pain and that’s the truth (wise words from author David Foster Wallace). Don’t let Mr. Walton tell you otherwise.

Some see the decreased funding for higher education as part of the reason behind the inequality gap. I am slowly seeing that it may be part of the problem but it’s not a core of the problem nor a part of the solution.

This whole perspective came from four years of college. Even after four years,when many of us are supposed to have matured and taken a greater appreciation of our education and a better understanding of responsibility, I still am overwhelmed by the amount of people that are ungrateful for the opportunities given to them. We’ve all heard it before:

“This is the third time taking this class, I failed the first, quit school the second, and I’m probably going to get an F on this paper”

“I came to college to party, GPA doesn’t matter”.

“Someone told me to come to college and just get a degree, any degree”

“I plan on just taking it easy and becoming a ski bum after college”

If the United States loses it’s position as a leader in prosperity in the world (and some may argue that it already has) it’s not because of a funding issue or a political issue. It’s a culture issue. We’re spoiled brats who think that education is owed to us, a picket fence in the suburbs is OWED to us and define this as a success. We don’t go to school to learn but to earn a corner office and a picket fence in the suburbs. Unfortunately, the idea that the rich only get richer and the poor only get poorer is true, in financial terms. I think it’s time for those who think we deserve something better and need more to redefine our definition of happiness and fulfillment. Knowledge should be something you can use to make the world a better place and be more accepting of the world, knowledge shouldn’t be just a strategy to get a piece of paper that says you know how to get to class.

So if more money went into higher education, would that really solve the problem and would we really be better off? Money never ends up in the hands of those who need it most.

Examples:

  • Corporate bailouts while unemployment continues to rise, this is going to stir political comments but let me point out that both political parties have supported this
  • More funding for schools will most likely end up in most expansion and buildings because “increased enrollment” is something the university always prides itself on
    • This results in:
      • The ability to decrease standards and admit more students
      • The admission of those who can afford college but are not necessarily at a high level academically

I came to school incredibly poor and was fortunate enough to gain scholarships and grants that covered my tuition. I also understand that the aid that I received may not be available for those who need it most in the future but GUESS WHAT?

You don’t need a degree to make valuable change in the world!

You might need a degree to make a large salary but if you’re interested in that, you’re part of the problem and not the solution to all of this.

I’m about to graduate in May and when reflecting on my college education, I ask myself, “Was this all really necessary?” I say this because:

– I’ve been able to work for several great causes that would have appreciated my help just as much without a degree. Maybe I wouldn’t have had as much specific background knowledge but there are libraries and people to learn from! Why are children in basements making bombs to blow up their schools but not in their basement teaching themselves ways to make a positive difference in the world? Because they’re told that the classroom is the only place for that! The same classroom that primes them to measure success by the standards given to them, the pieces of paper that tells them whether they will be successful in life or not. Maybe the kids who want to blow up their schools know something that took me 22 years to figure out. This world is screwed up.

Will we ever win the fight in aligning priorities in the right places politically and financially? No. But it’s up to us to become better individuals and create our own agendas to help those around us instead of letting others decide what makes us successful.

“The Constitution only gives people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself.” – Benjamin Franklin