Briana Jessen LeClaire 
Member since Mar 17, 2015


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Re: “Why Idaho kids don't go to college

Two things made it possible for me to take my dream job on Capitol Hill for $19K/year in 1992: my degree (English) from the University of Idaho, and a lack of college debt. With today's rates of college debt, important, life-changing, door-opening jobs in politics and the non-profit world will be accessible only to rich kids still being supported by Mom and Dad. That will lengthen an already too-lengthy adultesence, and further divide the people who run this country from the rest of us.

The same goes for entrepreneurship: when you're drowning in debt, how can you even think about the risk of leaving a safe job, assuming you have one? That isn't good for America.

Our high school senior, who will graduate from high school with 32 college credits from the College of Western Idaho, recently received her "financial aid" letter from the U of I, and I just laughed. We have two younger children as well. Her "award" included the opportunity for we, her parents, to borrow $10K/year to finance her education. She's going to learn welding next year at CWI while living at home. Then, she's going to make money while she figures out what's next.

We've saved in her 529 since she was born, by the way. She's also worked at a paying job for 15-20 hours per week since she was 16, and saved.

The college bubble is going to burst, and it isn't the Harvards that will go down - it's the University of Idahos. They are failing the people they were designed to educate by insisting on sticking to the the old, expensive college model based on education scarcity. There's no economic incentive to change because to the colleges, student loans are free money.

Just for kicks, I took a massive open online course (MOOC) last summer called "Justice" which is a philosophy 101-type course required of every Harvard freshman. It was a delight, taught by a gifted prof with an obvious love of undergraduates to extremely talented young people who asked brilliant questions. It was like I was watching PBS, with breaks to do the reading and writing in between.

With some good assistants and very little tweaking, Harvard's Justice course could be taught online to U of I students. Wonderful course, low expense - what's not to like, especially by tuition-paying Idahoans? In fact, San Jose State University, a school not unlike the U of I, tried to implement that very course in its own philosophy department. The faculty of course rioted, and the idea died.

As a taxpayer, I expect to be left holding the bag when the system implodes. But I'll be darned if my kid is going to be drowning in debt, too.

Briana LeClaire
Meridian, ID

3 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Briana Jessen LeClaire on 03/17/2015 at 1:51 PM

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