Free Online Documentary On Debt: The College Conspiracy

August 27, 2011


We all value education, don’t we? But as a current graduate student, I’m alarmed by the amount of debt my friends and peers are taking on… $20k, $50k, $100k, $120k. What will happen when our generation wants to buy a home, have a child or put money towards our retirement but we’re still paying off our debts acquired to get a good job in the first place?

I’m not one for conspiracy theories. I HATE generalizations, scare tactics or dramatic claims, but this document makes some thought provoking points about the growing debt of our country, of our college attendees and the economy.  I hate sounding the alarms, but this exact question has been  on my heart and mind for over a year- how will today’s college grads handle their debt, or will the bubble burst?


I personally am concerned that if we had an economic crash in 2008 over the housing market, but many college grads have more debt at age 24 than 44 years old have on their mortgage.


Thoughts?  Do you think the debt is worth it?  Is the answer to the devaluation of the bachelor’s degree simply getting more education (thus more debt)?   Do you know anyone that is in a huge amount of student loan debt? How are they handling their debt?

 I really want to talk about this and would appreciate your thoughts and experiences.


11 comments so far.

11 responses to “Free Online Documentary On Debt: The College Conspiracy”

  1. Carole says:

    I used to believe that debt was inevitable to obtain a degree, particularly a graduate degree. I believed a degree was vital. This is what I taught my daughter and here she is less than a year after obtaining her BA and she has a great deal of debt. She also does not have a job in this country. Had money not been an issue, she would be here in graduate school.

    Our lives have changed in a hundred ways over the past few years and things are not as we have always known them. I think that if one desires to be a doctor, scientist, or professions that require a precise skill, debt will be inevitable because the degrees are required. I'm not sure I believe any more that kids should necessarily head straight to college out of high school. Working a bit and saving $ may be the better route.
    I highly value education and still hope to finish the doctorate that I started 4 years ago. ut, with a family and the huge cost of education, it is unlikely. That makes me sad. What makes me sadder is that I don't how we will finance the 3 upcoming college educations or which we are responsible. There is a lot to figure out for parents.

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      Your story is shared by many, many graduates and families, especially in these hard times. Good luck to your family and I hope your daughter stumbles across a job soon. Good luck Carole! It's really hard to see so many people hurt by something that is supposed to be a positive experience and something to celebrate. It's hard to celebrate a degree when that degree doesn't help you get the job you hoped for, especially when student loan debt was involved.

      P.S. Don't give up on your Doctorate, just be creative in finding ways to increase your chances of completing it without debt. Easier said than done I know, especially with the high cost of tuition and books, but just don't give up! 😀

  2. Shannyn@FruBeautiful says:

    Carole, I think you hit the nail on the head. So many of us value education but feel it's unobtainable if we go the college route. Parents are paying off their college loans for years and years, only to have to worry about funding their kids' education, if they can at all.

    Equally concerning is the idea that many students assume that their degree will make them at all competitive in the marketplace, especially if the degree is from a big name school. I used to feel slightly inferior when many of my friends went off to big name schools and I was stuck local at my community college than a "less notable" state school. I really thought I was cheating myself by not going to a more famous school, but then a few years later, I realized that none of my peers were fairing any better than I was in the job market, and I didn't have their debt load.

    I hope that as a country we turn things around- too many kids that want a degree can't honestly afford it (and will continue this trend even if they get loans, just because there's funding doesn't mean it's realistically going to be paid off) and those that might be able to afford it sometimes only go because they feel obligated to. So many smart people have done well without a degree or attribute their success to other factors, not necessarily their degree.

    I hope that in the coming years, those of us getting an education will find more freedom- freedom to attend if we want to and be able to make a living, or a freedom to go where they want (or NOT go) if they choose to get a college degree.

    Carole, thank you for sharing your insights and your story. I think it's a powerful contribution to the dialogue about college debt, and it's a discussion Americans need to have!

  3. Brad Chaffee says:

    I too highly regard education. I think education is vital to becoming a productive member of society, but unfortunately the education received these days hardly stacks up to what it ends up costing. On the flip side, it's just as easy to educate yourself in other ways be reading and learning on your own, but the only problem with that is that in some career paths you do need that piece of paper.

    The only option then, for us at least, is going to be to find the most affordable college or university for our kids to go to and pay for 3/4 of it with the money we plan on saving up for just that. We have 3 little ones to pay for though so by the time they end up in college, I'm absolutely horrified at what tuition will be at that time. 😀

  4. jaime says:

    I've seen this video and I highly agree with it. The problem is that the majority of society assumes that a person is an idiot if they don't get some type of degree or training after high school. When I was a little girl growing up I had this dream of finishing high school and going after a creative career.

    The creative field changed from time to time but the desire of wanting to be in a creative career didn't. But instead of doing what I wanted, I went to college mostly because of pressure from my parents. Well I'm about 3 classes from getting my 2 year degree and I'm going to go after what I want now.

    Sometimes people really take it personally when I say that I don't like college, and I consider it a waste of time and money. I have a friend who takes this very personally. But the truth is they shouldn't. College is great for some people but not for everyone.

    Yes some careers need college training such as a career in law, engineering, and medicine, etc. If a person has a dream of being a doctor, lawyer, engineer, or any career that college is required for then they should definitely go.

    I also don't believe in going to college and majoring in a subject that you think is boring but practical. I have a friend that majored in accounting, and he HATED it, he still doesn't like it but he's gotten used to it. He also went in it for a bad reason, it was a practical major.

    I've also noticed people in their late 30s and 40s go back to college mostly because they tried to be in careers that were "practical" and just couldn't take it anymore. I've noticed that at and bookstores there are more books now about retiring early and I've asked myself, why is that?

    I'm sure part of the answer is that people want to get out jobs they hate. I don't have statistics but I do think that's one reason. Anyway, I did a huge search on Google to find people in the past and present who didn't go to college and I found a lot of people who found success without college.

    Normally people say "Bill Gates and Katy Perry are the exception…" but actually they aren't. My hairstylist is in her mid twenties and she told me that she was signed up for an interior design class at the local community college, but she didn't want to do more school so she withdrew before it started and then went to hair styling school.

    She worked at two places, a hair styling salon and then a sandwich place, and just 2 weeks ago I got a letter from her that she's opening up her own salon. I'm definitely following her to the new place because she's great at what she does. But there's an example of a person who didn't want to go to college, but found an intelligent way to pursue her dreams.

    She's not famous and she's not a celebrity, but she's a normal person who found success without college and honestly in a time when companies are not loyal to workers, where everyone from the CEO, janitor, receptionist, accountant, etc. is replaceable; It just makes sense to start up your own business.

    Also a couple months ago a new book came out about how college students are learning less, and in my humble opinion, education is a life long learning process that is not limited to an institution such as college. The book is called Academically Adrift.

    The best people I know are the ones who are constantly reading, learning on their own whether or not they went to college. I'm not anti-college, but I am against pushing everyone to college, and I'm against college students racking up debt for what society considers to be an "education." People should go to college if they want to go or if they need to learn a specific skill that they can only learn there.

    • Shannyn@FruBeautiful says:

      Jaime, great response! Wow! You made so many points that I was just nodding my head with, like "yup, yup, mmhm!" I am an ardent advocate that learning should be lifelong, not just while enrolled in a school of some type. I have found that people are too reliant on their college degree, while simultaneously blaming their high school/college for "not teaching them real skills" like balancing a bank account or planning for retirement, or how to get a solid first mortgage.

      They're right, school doesn't teach you those things, and yes, it totally sucks that we didn't spend some of our time learning things that are truly practical and could make life simpler after schooling- but after realizing that, the responsibility falls on YOU to go out there and get the tools needed to learn.

      This summer I couldn't take any graduate classes so I spent the time as if I were in "school" of my own. I read books on entrepreneurship, money management, personal development, writing, marketing and other useful topics that I think are so vital to our personal success and career development but aren't taught in class. ( Libraries are free and plentiful- using them is great!) I feel I learned more in summer break than I did in graduate classes last spring…kind of sad.

      I hate the fact that school "teaches to the test" and student who get to college are now "just working for that piece of paper." It seems that students (and the faculty) have gotten off track on what it means to truly be learning. 🙁

  5. Jaime says:

    Hi Shannyn thanks for replying. Yep I do agree that its our own responsibility to learn those things.

    College can't teach people everything that everyone will need for the rest of their lives.I think it's awesome that you're learning on your own. Independent learning is great because if you're self-motivated then you can teach yourself a lot.

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  8. tim f says:

    I thought you might get a kick out of this, a free pdf booklet taking a humorous and irreverent look at college

  9. Kate says:

    I know this post may be a little old, but the topic is still fresh, perhaps even more so today. I graduated with my B.A. in 2011 and this fall I will be a graduate assistant at Clemson. I’m thankful for the opportunity and I would not even consider getting my graduate degree unless it was paid for, but looking back, I don’t know that I would make the same choice to go to college in the first place. I love to learn and I feel I learn really well on my own. Sometimes I feel too limited in college classes because it’s difficult to take risks. I tend to gain more satisfaction pursuing my own projects, connections, and reading content.


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