6 Insane Things You Learn When Your College Goes Bankrupt

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6 Insane Things You Learn When Your College Goes Bankrupt

Postby FieldMarshalFry » Mon May 25, 2015 2:15 pm

http://www.cracked.com/personal-experiences-1710-6-insane-things-you-learn-when-your-college-goes-bankrupt.html

okay, I'm finding the comments very depressing today, while the Liberal Arts jokes are all fine and good, a lot of people seem to be asserting that running an educational system for profit seems to be a good idea... I'VE ONLY BEEN GONE FOR THREE BLOODY DAYS AND YOU LOT HAVE SWUNG TO THE RIGHT!!!
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Last edited by Marcuse on Mon May 25, 2015 11:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Changed link to Page 1 of article
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Re: 6 Insane Things You Learn When Your College Goes Bankrup

Postby JamishT » Mon May 25, 2015 7:17 pm

Awwww, people disagree with you! How sad!
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Re: 6 Insane Things You Learn When Your College Goes Bankrup

Postby DamianaRaven » Mon May 25, 2015 8:16 pm

FieldMarshalFry wrote:I'm finding the comments very depressing today...


As am I, but for slightly different reasons. There seems to be a great deal of schadenfreude if the form of, "ha ha, that's what you GET for being a stupid liberal." Also, there appear to be a few of the MRA types huffily pointing out the hypocrisy of all-female schools. I've already used up half my daily allotment of downvotes.
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Re: 6 Insane Things You Learn When Your College Goes Bankrup

Postby Jeckel » Mon May 25, 2015 10:55 pm

I must have missed the MRA posters (I still have some downvotes left so will keep an eye out for them), but it most certainly is sexist to restrict who can attend a college based on gender. Just to be clear, I feel the same way about men-only colleges as well, but they tend to be religious based, so while not an excuse it is at least less surprising.
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Re: 6 Insane Things You Learn When Your College Goes Bankrup

Postby Marcuse » Mon May 25, 2015 11:25 pm

I don't necessarily see the problem with single sex educational establishments, so long as they aren't the only option and people aren't excluded from education by an institution being single sex. I do kind of get annoyed by the stated attitude in the article that the only reason to have an all female art school is to learn in a "safe" environment, as though the presence of men is some threat to their very lives merely by dint of men being in the vicinity. I find that kind of insulting and sexist. But that's not more than a passing comment in the article.

The article itself I feel, smacked a little of intellectual cowardice, in that the real issue here seems to be that the college has a $94 million endowment and nobody knows where it's going, but they avoid discussing that on the flimsy premise that they don't want to talk about maths and merely link to secondary sources to detail that real issue. The fallout of the school closing is made unacceptable by the possibility that it's failing for a bad reason, or that that failure is avoidable. By focusing on the relatively minor concerns about degrees and community fallout, they neglect the elephant in the room and really it makes the article seem more ineffectual than it is.

I agree that if an educational establishment can't fund its existence then it should close. I'm not okay with the subsequent degrees being null and void and I think the students should be either refunded their fees for courses not completed, so they can go elsewhere, or some arrangement made for them to finish their courses elsewhere should be made. If we're going to hold these places accountable to market forces then we need to understand that the contract to provide such training has not been fulfilled and therefore the students have as much right to be compensated as someone does for an unfulfilled contract in any other field.
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Re: 6 Insane Things You Learn When Your College Goes Bankrup

Postby sunglasses » Tue May 26, 2015 1:55 am

Liberal arts degree =/= a liberal.

That is all.
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Re: 6 Insane Things You Learn When Your College Goes Bankrup

Postby NathanLoiselle » Tue May 26, 2015 2:38 am

Republican arts degree does equal a republican though.
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Re: 6 Insane Things You Learn When Your College Goes Bankrup

Postby OrangeEyebrows » Tue May 26, 2015 8:33 am

Marcuse wrote:The article itself I feel, smacked a little of intellectual cowardice, in that the real issue here seems to be that the college has a $94 million endowment and nobody knows where it's going, but they avoid discussing that on the flimsy premise that they don't want to talk about maths and merely link to secondary sources to detail that real issue.


I actually read that as "94 million alleged dollars have allegedly disappeared, or so it is alleged, and...oh crap, someone get our lawyer a glass of water - he's gone purple and he's sort of spasming."
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Re: 6 Insane Things You Learn When Your College Goes Bankrup

Postby Jack Road » Tue May 26, 2015 1:26 pm

When I first got out of Basic training, some other soldier recommended I go for some online school called Mountain State University, which seemed pretty legit. Thankfully I only ever took two classes there, because it went bankrupt and was a disaster.
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Re: 6 Insane Things You Learn When Your College Goes Bankrup

Postby Marcuse » Tue May 26, 2015 1:53 pm

Orange wrote:I actually read that as "94 million alleged dollars have allegedly disappeared, or so it is alleged, and...oh crap, someone get our lawyer a glass of water - he's gone purple and he's sort of spasming."


Oh no, see it's worse than that. Colleges use endowments to generate income by investing it, the problem is that nobody knows where the regular income from an endowment of 94 million dollars is going. It's not that the $94 million is missing, but that nobody can place where the income from that is going to, which suggests it's being embezzled or otherwise removed from the college and the college has, as a result, gone bust.

I get that they can't be definitive about what has happened because of legal things, but the real issue is that, and if they're happy to link to secondary sources, I'd expect they could discuss it at least as much as the sources they're linking do. Links shouldn't replace content in an article, but support the content itself.
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Re: 6 Insane Things You Learn When Your College Goes Bankrup

Postby OrangeEyebrows » Tue May 26, 2015 2:06 pm

Welll, defamation laws are tricky beasts. One of my clients is currently embroiled in a labyrinthine defamation case and there are all sorts of rules about what you can and can't say and what constitutes opinion and what's reporting third-party allegations and what is and isn't good faith and so on and so forth ad nauseum. But of course I could be wrong.
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Re: 6 Insane Things You Learn When Your College Goes Bankrup

Postby Marcuse » Tue May 26, 2015 2:17 pm

Well, this is one of the links they included in the article:

http://uk.businessinsider.com/sweet-briar-college-financials-2015-3?r=US

Which very clearly indicates that there's something fishy going on because the college's assets since 2008 were increasing and their liabilities dropping, then suddenly it's bankrupt. It's not really defamation to quote those figures and say this doesn't seem to add up.

There are also public statements made that don't make sense, which could easily have been included in the article such as the college president stating that for the college to remain open they'd need $250 million in their endowment right now. This doesn't make sense given larger universities have smaller endowments than that and are doing fine. This includes a comparable small rural college that's increasing enrolment with only a $50 million endowment.

I get that they need to be careful, I'm not suggesting the article should provide a legal judgement on the case, just that it would have been nice to point this out in the actual article rather than fall back on other people's work for that.
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Re: 6 Insane Things You Learn When Your College Goes Bankrup

Postby cmsellers » Sun Jun 07, 2015 5:51 pm

This article immediately made me think of several things. The first is that it's always sad when old colleges close. I remember when Antioch College closed in 2008, though they've since re-opened. The author is right that it's a "specialist college in general" issue. (Antioch is a liberal arts college, but it also has a rather unorthodox academic setup, or at least did before closing.)

The second thing is that the closure is likely not to go through. Like I said, Antioch reopened, and Sweet Briar has a larger endowment than Antioch. As a woman's college Sweet Briar also has the option of admitting men to remain open. I'm not saying they should admit men, if they can afford not to. However going coeducational doesn't mean you double your potential pool of applicants; the effect is likely far greater. When I was applying to colleges, I remember two statistics which stuck out. The first was that the majority of young women will not apply to a college that is more than 60% female. The second was that only three percent of American women will even consider applying to a single-sex college.

I wish I'd bookmarked those articles back in '06, so I can check their veracity now, but both sound plausible to me based on the large numbers of international students at Smith and Mt. Holyoke (both among the top tier of women's colleges) and my own intuitions.

However if a private college is financially sustainable and either the trustees or majority of the student body wish to keep the school a women's only school, it has every right to do so, and I don't really see it as problematic. Yes, it's sex discrimination, and yes the "male classmates intimidate women from learning" argument is anachronistic. However I've grown up near Smith College, which I believe may be the best liberal arts college in the country, as well as Mt. Holyoke. I've also grown up near Amherst College, which is usually considered one of the best liberal arts schools in the country.

Amherst has single-digit acceptance rates, and those numbers are even smaller if you're from the Northeast, if you're not a legacy student, and if you're white (excepting legacy students) or Asian. I haven't met a single non-Asian Amherst student who was not an athlete in high school. I've also found that most Amherst students who were not legacy admissions (and many of those who were) tend to be the kind of student who pads their resume with activities they actually take very little part in, and makes all their decisions based on how things will look to future employers and/or law and business schools. I was continually amazed at how intellectually incurious the majority of Amehrst students were. They got good grades and have the social savvy to go far in life, but Amherst students were usually vapid, condescending, and generally obnoxious. Amherst, to me, represents everything that is wrong with Ivy League-style education in a nutshell.

By contrast Smith College, because far fewer women are willing to apply, is a school that any local girl who gets decent grades and has a handful extracurriculars can get into, and can usually get into with a significant scholarship. Smith also has programs for non-traditional students, meaning that there are a large number of single mothers, mothers from lower-socioeconomic strata, and poor immigrants (as opposed to the rich international students Amherst recruits from Asia and the Caribbean). Though I met interesting students with an interest in learning at all the Five Colleges (exactly two of them in the case of Amherst), Smith seemed to be composed of only such students. I never met a Smith student who wasn't interesting to talk to.

And yes, I would have loved to have been eligible to apply to Smith College. However if Smith were coeducational, it would likely have an acceptance rate similar to Amherst, and the student body might well have become another collection of stuffy, supercilious, robotic, resume-padding athletes, rather than the vibrant and interesting community it is today.

Mount Holyoke isn't quite as impressive as Smith. A substantial portion of its student body seemed to be spoiled rich girls, and I never met any international students from poor backgrounds, foreign students who were in the US when they were admitted, mothers, or older women. However there were still a lot of Mt. Holyoke students who were interesting to talk to, and I think that the intellectual curiosity of the student body was similar to that Hampshire (a school which actively strives, often unsuccessfully, to admit interesting and intellectually curious students). Mt. Holyoke also offers full scholarships to a handful of local girls each year, and partial scholarships to many others. Considering that Mt. Holyoke is already displaying some Amherst-like tendencies, there's no question in my mind that a co-educational Mt. Holyoke would be at least as unpleasant at Amherst where the student body is concerned.

Any rate, this is my way of saying: yes it's a shame that Sweet Briar announced its closing and I hope that they don't see coeducation as a fate worse than closing, but women's only colleges in general are awesome, not because men hold female classmates back, but because the knee-jerk aversion of most women to a single-sex learning environment means that they present an awesome educational opportunity for more open-minded young women.
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Re: 6 Insane Things You Learn When Your College Goes Bankrup

Postby ToixStory » Mon Jun 08, 2015 2:27 pm

While I certainly have tons of sympathy for the Sweet Briar students who are now screwed over by their college's closing, I have to at least somewhat wonder why a college with less than 600 students and over 100 teachers (6:1 student to teacher ratio seems...odd, to say the least) needs $94 million dollars in the first place. My own institution, the University of Texas at Arlington, with more than 40,000 students and 2,000 teachers gets by on a $124.6 million endowment.

Now, granted UTA gets by with other means of money, including oil money granted by the University of Texas system, the sheer amount of money 40,000 students brings, alumni funds, research grants, etc., but it still seems amazing, to me, that such a small college somehow needed something like 75% of my colossal school's endowment. Which, from my point of view, points very strongly to something fishing going on behind the scenes that led to the downfall of the school more than just normal financial issues.
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