Poo to you, NYU!

Are these people kidding me?! I was in the NYU Career Center today, looking at brochures of upcoming events, when I saw the following:

financialplanningaftergraduation

I don’t know whether to laugh or cry . . . an event on financial planning co-sponsored by Citi.

“Put your money in the hands of Citi, and someday, you too can know the pratfalls of complete fiscal disintegration!”

During my year-and-a-half as a grad student, NYU impressed me with its dizzying variety of callousness and incompetency, but this is really the topper. It’s an insult to students, to financial supporters of the university, and to any NYU employee with half a brain trying to preserve the illusion that institutes of higher education are actually institutes of higher education. (Come to think of it, anyone trying to preserve that illusion has no brains at all.)

This is a little tangential, but I’m in need of a good, cathartic release of simultaneous anger and laughter, so I’ll throw in the clip from a few days ago in which Jon Stewart takes apart the media, financial institutions, and billionaires all in one segment…

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8 comments so far

  1. Amanda on

    Soon they’ll have Bernie Madoff in to talk about entrepreneurial skills.

  2. AK on

    Nephew,

    Love you though I do, I have to say that your naivete is seeping out of the edges of your young age. First, a university’s career center usually functions independently, so NYU administration wouldn’t have made the decision to sponsor the named event. Second, sponsorship for events is lined up at least a year in advance and, where a non-profit entity is concerned (which the career center is, as part of the university), usually means that the sponsoring entity’s products are not pushed. Third, your lambasting of NYU as incompetent is, well, unfair at best. There is dysfunction in every organization, but you try running a school the size of NYU and see how well you do. I doubt if you’d get everything right. Fourth, true, some colleges and universities are lacking in educational standards. However, most that I know of (and I have a lot more experience in this area than you) seek to challenge their students and promote the development of critical thinking skills.

    You complain an awful lot, but I’ve yet to hear you consider the other side of things and/or come up with some productive ideas of how to improve what you criticize. That would show some real maturity on your part. I think you’re capable of it, I just haven’t seen you choose to engage that way yet.

    AK

  3. Andrew on

    Aunt Kay,

    While I also love you dearly, I would have to say that this is not personal argument attacking on you or the education system. Just wanted to get that out of the way.

    Your points are valid as I have taken them into consideration, but I caution you to first look back at History during the TransAtlantic mercantilism boom of the 14th 15th and 16th centuries. There is a strong argument that can be made that the educational system back then is strikingly similar to the education system we see today at the University level. During the TransAtlantic boom, education was viewed by the aristocrats as a high valued commodity that only the privilege rich class should have. This is exactly why the Europeans of the day strongly condemned those slaves and people of the lower class to become educated. This was used as a way to keep those people suppressed with the inability to rise from their lower economic status for generations to come. Not unlike gold, pearls, and sugar the right to an education was used as leverage to further advance yourself or even have power within a society.

    Now a days this still holds water as many children who are very smart simply can’t afford to go to college and the families who have a higher SES status can more easily go ahead of those who can’t meet the financial requirements of college tuitions. I see this everyday when I talk to doormen or cab drivers who are just as bit as smart as I am but couldn’t afford to get a college degree at Hopkins b/c they didn’t have any financial backings.

    The idea of the American Dream continues to slip away when Wall Street, irresponsible politicians and business men make poor unethical decisions. I urge you to pay attention to Rich’s argument about the irony of that brochure and understand that at least from my point of view education is partially just a high priced commodity that if you can afford will advance you up the ladder. I can tell you as a student that in my past 4 years of college I have probably learned nothing in about 75% of my classes and if I did learn it, I can’t remember a damn thing. I feel that I have spend almost 300,000 dollars for a piece of paper and not for a piece of mind.

    While I know that there are means for poor people to get to college through financial aid these opportunities are far less accessible compared to those in the higher economic status. I also understand your argument about the brochure maybe having to remain there for a year due to contract agreements but if NYU has placed its logo on the brochure then they have endorsed something that just looks silly. I agree with many of your statements because I know you are a good teacher and educator but you are probably in the minority as many teachers don’t want to teach and have no desire to teach and educate their students. I have had a great privilege of having good teachers here at Hopkins but I would say most of the teachers here are only teaching b/c it makes their resume look good. I will leave you with some dialogue from Good Will Hunting

    “See, the sad thing about a guy like you is in 50 years you’re gonna staht doin some thinkin on your own and you’re gonna come up with the fact that…you dropped a hundred and fifty grand on a fuckin education you coulda got for a dollah fifty in late chahges at the public library”

    Loved to hear your thoughts on my comments as I am always game for a good debate.

    P.S. We can see how flawed higher education is just from my writing sample above. Four years of college and I’m still not that great a writer!

    AZ

  4. Normy's Nuggets on

    Citi made a huge mistake by firing Jamie Dimon. Dimon is successfully captaining the only ship not sinking amongst the Tsunami.

  5. remixedmetre on

    Aunt Kay,

    I think you might be taking my comments a little too personally (and seriously!). First and foremost, it’s a blog, which is often a dumping ground for random thoughts, many of which aren’t necessarily reflective of my state of mind at all times. I think it’s a little judgmental to say I do a lot of complaining and never express anything positive, since you haven’t seen me day to day. I guess if anything is reflective of my callow youth, it’s the fervor and snarkiness with which I expressed my opinion.

    Secondly, although I want to defer to your doctorate, I really can’t believe that university career centers operate independently of the university as a rule. It’s certainly not the case at NYU. And either way, anything attached to NYU’s name reflects back on the school, whether the main administration has any say or not, so you must admit, it doesn’t look the best when NYU has its name attached to a session on financial planning sponsored by Citi, large portions of which went under. Even if the event was planned a year in advance (which I assumed it was, even before your comment), it just looks bad. Also, I never said that Citi was pushing its products. That never factored into what I wrote.

    Thirdly, I don’t see how you can say my labeling NYU as incompetent is unfair, since you haven’t been intimately involved with the university over the past year-and-a-half as I have. In my mind, NYU’s being a larger institution does not excuse many of the things I’ve seen (I could get into those separately). Incompetence on its own is expected in a larger organization, but not incompetence and callousness, which is what I mentioned. And whether or not I could do a better job is irrelevant; it’s not my job! Nor would I want it to be! I’d wager that my comments about NYU related to an issue that you feel deeply about, and that you turned my comments into a direct attack on something you believe.

    Finally, I think we’re just going to have to agree to disagree on the motives of university education. My experiences at both Duke and NYU (and conversations with friends at larger universities) have led me to conclude that larger universities treat their students as dollars, cents, and statistics, used to the end of furthering the university’s reputation and gaining more funding. Perhaps if anything, I should have qualified my use of “institutes of higher education” with “larger”, or just simply said “larger universities”.

    And as my brother said in his above comment, teachers are often not at larger universities to teach, but to publish and research. They view teaching as an obligatory nuisance. Now, this might be different at colleges and smaller schools, but I’ve witnessed enough at large universities (again, both personally and in talking to friends) to know better than to think that universities are in it for their students’ educational well-being. It’s all about accolades.

    At any rate, sorry if what I wrote bothered you so much, but it certainly wasn’t my intention.

  6. S H on

    Hi Rich, this post seems to have sparked some interesting debate and since I’m now getting some experience being on the other side (i.e. as a teacher and not as a student), I thought I might add my perspective. Hope someone finds my comments interesting!

    First off, I think I’m correct in stating that the advert for this Financial Planning workshop sponsored by a failed financial institution is not the true object of the criticism here, merely an anecdotal, amusing example of a much larger issue? I say this because the discussion has veered into more serious issues than gaffes in university event planning.

    That aside, I too feel that that there are major problems in our systems of higher education. Andrew, you’re absolutely right that there’s an inequality of access to the more prestigious and presumably higher quality education. I also feel that too many schools take advantage of their non-profit status: how big of an endowment do you really need? These institutions don’t pay taxes because they’re supposed to be providing a ‘service’ to the public, but I don’t see any schools taking the money they raise and using it to lower tuition costs. Most non-profits have to minimize the money they spend on salaries and fancy offices, and ensure that the majority of their funds go right back into servicing the public, but it seems that non-profit schools aren’t monitored in this way. Where’s the accountability?How their tax-free money is spent needs to be justified and it needs to be transparent.

    In some respects, I do think that prestigious, expensive, private research universities often provide higher quality education, but certainly not in any consistent fashion and definitely not in all subjects! I attribute this to an outmoded model that needs some serious revision for a 21st century world. Let me explain. :

    Smart people with convincing arguments posit that universities need to rethink their role in preparing graduates for a more technologically competitive world. A hundred years ago, it made sense that a liberal arts education be geared toward prepping those few elite who could afford to go to college for careers as either a. doctors, b. lawyers, or c. academics. That was at a time when not many people went to college and good jobs could be had with a high school diploma. In that world, the role of prepping students for fields of work other than the three careers listed above, fell primarily to the high schools. But this is no longer the case! For one, there are more professional careers than just those three nowadays, and many of those professional careers require a high degree of academic and technological training that can’t be got in high-school.

    I found that my undergraduate education taught me a great deal about how to think and how to research and how to study (in short how to be an academic) but it did not prepare me for a career in my chosen field. Higher institutions need to acknowledge that there a lot of new professional fields out there, opening up mostly because of changes in technology and increasing sophistication in job markets that require a college education and for which very little in the way of preparation is provided.

    I can only speak to my experience in my field, but here’s what I found:
    Aside from one ‘independent study’ class with an excellent professor, and some internships and work-study experiences (outside of regular classes), I did not learn anything in college that I am putting to use in my professional career. And when I spoke with career counselors and my professors about career options, the advice I received was, ‘Well, don’t most graduates become consultants, if not med school or law school?’

    So I feel lucky to have a job in academia (the only ‘option’ left to me when I decided I didn’t want to be a doctor or a lawyer). I teach at a ‘teaching college’ for design, a design school that is a private non-research, non-prestigious institution, and my students have access to state-of-the-art facilities and higher quality education beyond anything I could’ve dreamed of (both as an undergrad and as a grad student!). I’ve learned more about my field through independent study in preparing myself to teach my students than I ever did in college. I’m very satisfied with my career and its direction, but if I’d had the education that they are receiving, my options would have been far greater in my field. And yet my education is supposedly ‘higher quality’ than theirs because I went to Duke University and then the Pratt Institute for my graduate degree (also a private design school, but extremely prestigious, extremely expensive, and sorely lacking in facilities and resources and student support, with just a few excellent professors holding the otherwise pile of useless dilapidated bricks together!). But I digress.

    And yet, despite the inconsistent, gap-ridden qualities of a prestigious degree, there’s no denying that the value of a fancy education is the perceived prestige, the ‘brand’ that everyone salivates over. Again, I can only speak to my area of expertise, art and design, and I didn’t know it at the time, but my choices were the following: A. Go to a cheaper non-prestigious school and get a stellar education but a no-name degree or B. Go to an expensive prestigious school and get a mediocre education but a brand-name degree. Are these really the options that we should have?

  7. Sarah H on

    Sorry, one other thing I wanted to mention. However unpopular this position may be, I think the quality of education in this country is rising. Overall, the quality is definitely moving upward, I just think it would be even better if it took a more progressive direction.

    And yes, an institution is like a glacier, conservative in its movement, a huge complicated hive of workings weary of change in order to be protective of its reputation for quality. And right now, more change is coming from new institutions that have nothing to loose from taking risks and trying new things. But our higher learning institutions need to move faster to stay competitive in the global marketplace. We no longer have the run of the market when it comes to high-quality education, other countries are muscling in on that ground.

  8. Noah on

    Wow. Rich family use lots words.


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