« Freakonomics Radio

86. Freakonomics Goes to College, Part 1

2012-07-29 | 🔗
What's a college degree really worth these days?
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
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twenty twenty one Nilsen report limitations applying hello, MR, so yes, if I stevens nice to meet you Stephen NICE, to meet you and you are, leave, what I'm holding in my hand Let me guess, because I just got a degree and sacred come work, so I'm I'm unable over the internet of gorgeous, where else that you have in your hand. A diploma may he from Appalache and State University. Yes, founded in the year. Eighteen, ninety nine and I like their law go down at the bar, and what did I get my degree in I have no idea. This is a blank, oh, so it can be re sure I've always wanted to be. That well
that turns you on than that, and I am sure that the animals would have fun with your job and do you maybe also have a graduate degree from Columbia? University is well the atrocity, of Columbia University in the city of New York to all persons to whom these represents may come greeting. yet known that having completed the studies and satisfy the requirements for the degree of and its blank also have dignity you now. I did get a degree in writing there, but I really thought I should have become a doctor instead, so you can be whenever you want to be member. I've got to India
from W, why see an ATM american public media? This is Reaganomics radio podcast that explores the hidden side of everything. Here's your house statement. on today's show, we're talking about the value of a college degree. Now, for the record, I really did go to college. I got my undergraduate degree. He didn't broadcast journalism actually at Appalache and State University and Emma Faye in writing from Colombia, which is why I am an essential brought those particular diplomas to the radio studio. Now you may be asking who is an easy and how do we get hold of these blank diplomas? Well, he used to work for the FBI.
I retired in late nineteen, ninety one and four Twelve years I handled what was old operation, dip, scam, diplomas, scam, It was a series of investigations on degree, mills, diploma metals throughout the United States and some were abroad. Now it should be said, you say that you handled this investigation but you're being a little modest here. You created this investigation in you. Well, that's here's how it started one day in nineteen. Eighty, an informant came into his Elles, FBI, office and Charlotte North Carolina and laid a couple of fake college diplomas. desk. He told XL about a man in Greenville South Carolina who is selling them so Gazelle made a phone call. He didn't say was with the FBI. He said he was an accountant hoping to get a promotion,
that first day when you get on the phone with the president of the universe in Greenville South Carolina. What was an aim that University South Eastern Southeast? and was it a real college at all that word real It was well it's it's a relative term. There was a point in time, probably eleven years before, that it did have a building. Their later came up time when it, a fire or something when it stop being real. In that sense, and then The proprietor started operating the school out of three rooms of his house poses fellows name Doktor, Alfred Jarrett. Ok, so you call him up that day. call the doktor jeered at southeastern University in and what did you say to him? We negotiated the price. For my bachelors masters and doctorate with no work whatsoever, you bought a bachelors masters and a doctor all at once short.
combo haven't backdated. You know with transcript. During that conversation, Gazelle, made it sound as if he and colleagues might be helpful to Jarrett in growing is diploma business, so Gerritt invited them for visit. He took us on a tour of his house and the three rooms involved he show Hosty School filing cabinet yeah showed us our student files and the other student files. He showed us blank deploy. Most transcript seals, ribbons all the trappings that it would take now, all of them information will use in our affidavit for the federal search. More is in some other FBI agents, put together their case and then went back to see Jarrod this time with a search warrant. I tried to explain to him that life is not over that. This is just a search warrant.
So we spent two or three hours there. We did what we were supposed to and then we left town and went back to Charlotte but we later learn the following day. even the phone rang that after we had gone Doktor Jarrett Went out with a lady friend of his for dinner giving away some of his possessions and then went into the bathroom and took a thirty eight and put it up to his head and committed suicide we did not see that coming. I did not see that coming at all. We have, not even read all the boxes of stuff that we had when we did read. We saw that he had approximately six hundred plus gradual over eleven years we had federal state and counting em
always we had law enforcement, you name the profession we had it and that was Alan, his Elles introduction to the world of fake diplomas over the next decade. He helped uncover a huge counterfeit market companies all over the country doing millions of dollars worth of business. We bought forty degrees. We had sixteen. federal search warrant. Nineteen federal grand jury indictments about twenty one convictions. We dismantled forty schools and or counterfeit operations the highest gross revenue that I saw then, and this is pre internet was two million dollars now after the internet came about, Two million dollars that I was seeing for a gross revenue is not even pocket chain. we are now seeing thirty six million
seven million five million and the Lollapalooza, the biggest one that we have ever seen called University Degree Programme and they operated from ninety eight through about oh three by our calculations, the gross four hundred and fifty three million dollars and the paper that they sold will pollute the market for years to come and what what makes it even worse, they sold degrees in anesthesiology and cardiology dermatologists. Grow chronology, Gastro, Intolerancy, Neurology, obstetrics, oncology up the Malagigi Pediatrics, I kind of tree radiology surgery, urology and I would ask you where do you think that people are employed that bought two?
freeze in those majors? What that's what I want to know Alan, because if you're saying this one firm gross four hundred and fifty a million dollars over what a five year period, the average price of say, was a thousand dollars. Let's say, though, it was more the more or less about twenty four hundred knew how to five hundred dollar discount. So let's go in a two thousand two thousand, even so, that's more than two hundred thousand totally fake degree I told you they were the Lollapalooza and that's one firm. So I have two questions for you. One is why where the hell are all these fake doctors and my stay away from them and to is There are two hundred thousand roughly from one for how many fakes are we talking about in Toto. We have no idea, let me put it this way. The United States all the colleges and universities in our country award about one point: three million degrees a year.
Approximately one percent of that we believe is the amount of phony degrees that are sold in our country each year as to where these the law that bought those degrees? We don't have a clue and I say that because no one in law enforcement, federal law enforcement chased them We don't know who they are. We don't know where they are employed, only occasionally will a graduate flush up? He could be. practicing in a hospital he could have something go awry in a medical procedure, and then they start looking at his credentials and then find out he's a phony would be shocked at the number of people that, by this garbage and then put it on their resume and then post this online?
zone, retired and ninety ninety one operation, dip, scam, ended and he says the FBI pretty much stopped, investigating faked agrees. The industry has exploded since then, and today you can buy any kind of degree on line there are two basic kinds of operations. One is simply a counterfeiting company which sells fake versions of real degrees from the university of your choice. The other is a diploma mill, essentially a fake university that issues its own degree, like South Eastern University in doctor, Sometimes a diploma mill will ask you for a resume and award course credits based on your work. History, occasionally you'll have to do some. Work I'm in the most I've ever done is five pages on a masters, but
The time you just pay the fee smashing grab here's my check every my degree. So imagine you ve got low level job and you want to promotion that requires additional schooling, but you don't want to go back to school. So you tell your boss, you working on a degree at night and then a year or two later, you give your boss. You knew fake diploma. Thanks diploma Mill Joseph today, there is no federal criminal legislation regarding using diploma mill paper. In this regard, you sound is that you're not happy that there is no law against audio and I've never been happy the way you get somebody. Attention is, was some handcuffs? Ok, the threat of a civil, fine or embarrassment will not do it. We need a federal law that forbids the diploma mills, not accredited institutions instead
because I don't have regional or national acceptable accreditation. It should not be this easy, bill burn you after all, these years of pursuing these guys to know that the people are cheating so boldly. Oh and always has been. I have two daughters, one, the graduated from University of North Carolina, chapel he'll, one, the graduated. The University of Florida. I have bought counterfeits of vote, of their school diplomas with transcripts and I probably paid less than eight hundred dollars. For both You can imagine the thousands of dollars to send them to school. No, I cannot take away their level of learning that they had by going to school, but by buying a counterfeit. Can devalue the piece of paper that they walked out with at the end, because It undermines all of our legitimate education every one of us that have spent time money, effort, sweat.
all nighters it Values the degrees that we have is Israel's ballpark guess is true that roughly one per cent of college degrees are fake. Just think about that, if you workin, governments or health care, or maybe in public radio for every one hundred coworkers. One of them is a fraud. you ve got a wonder if there's something about how we look at real college degrees that makes a fake one so attractive, and so please, again you can be whatever you want to be. You can be whatever you want to be: we say that a lot parents to kids, especially
What we really mean is you can do whatever you want to be, but first you need a college degree now degree mills exploit our collective college anxiety and they tell people don't worry about the education. It's a piece of paper that gets you the job plus degree expensive, not only the money itself, but for years of your life and especially when the economy is, for me as it is now it's unclear if that investment is paid, coming up we'll talk about how much a college degree matters when you work in the White House. I think I wasn't
last generation that could be stupid enough to get a college degree. Economics, radio sponsored by total wine in more fling in The spring at total wine and more were fresh flavors are in full bloom. We're talking reasonings and rain boots. Bubbly and brunch Pino on the porch. Anyone no matter which way you rose. They they have the shade to match, with more than
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thanks to Pennsylvania, lottery, scratch ass, pennsylvanians or scratching their way to fine, and we new games every month, big top rises, and second chance, drawings, excitements, always in order so try, Pennsylvania, lottery, scratch, offer your ticket to fund and get yours today. Keep on scratching must be eighteen or older. Please play responsibly benefits older pennsylvanians every day. From W and Y see and eight p M american public media. This is for economics, radio, here's, your host, Stephen Governor, here's the thing when you look around variety of fields. You can find some really really successful people who did not finish college and not just in sports and entertainment. I'm talking about people at the top of knowledge fields were smarts are key, so Bill gates Mark Zuckerberg, Richard Branson.
You didn't politics, you can find a few Stephen. How are you that's Coral Rove former senior adviser and deputy chief of staff for present George W Bush Rove is currently a commentator for Fox NEWS and a contributor to the Wall Street Journal and at first glance, roves academic credentials seem to be commensurate with his achieve and so here's what I read from your buyer, that you are a Colorado native who attended the universe. If you told the inversely of Maryland College Park, George Mason University in the University of Texas Austin, but what I can't tell from that is, if you actually graduating college. So tell me tell me if you did: Not now, I never did otherwise. I too was a graduate of letters. So I'm curious too that the degree,
which you are leaving college because you were working it wasn't. You are leaving it up to each vetoes on Macao, Trade, while ya know. I left college because I had a greater economic opportunity. I mean I went to the university of you too, would only was able to attend college because I had a fifteen dollar year. Scholarship from the William Randolph First Foundation, and I had in o o, wait tables and run a cat. Register and a hippie, Shoplets old, patchouli oil and work in an industrial kitchen in a hospital in order to make ends meet and even I didn't have very many ends, but I left the universe, you view TA, where had been for two years in order to accept a job at the Republican National Committee, the height of the Vietnam WAR went in Russia Maryland lost. My student deferment of was almost drafted, went to the door, Mason in order to keep trying to get to the college degree in the same at the University of Texas- and you know, ups cobbling together courses here,
there, but each time the chance to get the college degree, he was stymied by you know having Sherman unusual opportunity in in each case, any These universities, when you enrolled, was, were you a political science, major yes programme the most useless degree that one can roll widely considered to be a political genius. He was the architect of President Bush's to electoral campaigns and he had a lot of policy influence in the White House and he's a guy who left college because more. because it just wasn't worth it to him. He found he could learn more in the field than in classroom. Listening to him, you start to If you can learn so much by doing why bother getting a degree but minds and a tip experience. I mean idea. I think I was in the law
austrian racial that could be stupid enough down to get a college degree. Hustled learn a society which credentials matter. I mean the bill gates of the world who go onto found Microsoft after a drop out a Harvard are few and far between the crossroads, who go on being a senior advisers president. After you never completing year. Degree are few and far between Rove points out that he did learn a lot in college, but not the kind of you might expect. The best course I ever took in college was I was in my sophomore year and it was a course in Shakespearian. Literature learn more about political communications and I once semester from a Catholic, none that then I learned at any point Of course it made me aware of the power of language and how telling a story a political campaign is about big issues, but you have to describe a narrative. You have to create a store the line in. What is this all about so as of today? How come
Sorry, you to getting under gadgetry have a shy. Are you think I'm a under my language requirement and about think about six hours or nine hours beyond at math course. Science course and in language is what to think. Now. The language is getting and realistically held you now, Carl sixty one real Stickley, you think you're gonna get your college degree. Let's keep there is a goal. You know life about the o upward upward vision about moving towards ever higher plateaus and mountain big. So let's keep it out there. We don't really know why different people choose different levels of education, its David cord he's in economists at University of California Berkeley. Some people think it's all parental background. Some people think its other attributes. If you ask and economists like David Card, a simple question about college Lake, is it worth it? He'll tend to focus on the most tangible outcome. Would economists call
returns to education, which pretty much boils down to how much more money you'll make. If you go to college and in my family we have all five possible levels of education. Have somebody didn't finish? I school someone who just finished high school somebody who has kind of three years of College Vocational College, somebody who has a bachelor degree with teaching certificate and then minas pitchy end em. If you just were to look at our family every step of the of the way the returns to education are farmers have been totally enormous, so the one who did not finish high school does what for living? Basically cleans houses are high and is the level of educational attack? many kind of a conversation in the family or is it something that is just no?
an ecologist- and you know that's the way it is well. I think, like like many families, the next generations people say well, she look. What shall we try and convince this kid to go to college are not an end in a bid to easy to say. Well, look. If you go to college, you gotta have a little bit easier choices to media. Once you get through that things are gonna, be a lot easier for you if you dont have it going forward. I think anybody who has kids Can I possibly make it through bachelor's degree, should really think of some way to get the strip of yeah cuz? I don't see much of a future twenty years from now for the kid who doesn't have that It's always tempting to cast about for the anomaly.
The billionaire who dropped out of college or, on the other hand, the Phd who's driving a taxi, but let's not get distracted by the anomalies. If you want to measure the value of education, you have to think in the aggregate and that's what economists like to do: here's my free economic friend and CO author, Steve Levitt, an economist at the University of Chicago the best wearing. canvas thinks about. The very medication is trying to figure out how the market rewards it and what other benefits come with, and one thing is clear that the market puts a tremendous reward on education to lead. The best estimates that economists have are that each extra year of education that you get is worth about, maybe an eight percent increment to your earnings.
each year for the rest of your life, so turns up from most people buying a lot education he's, or at least for the average person. Let me say, buying a lot of education is a really good deal and here's David card again in addition to that, the one who went to college will probably work for five years longer at the end of their life. They'll probably have less months of unemployment they'll, probably have longer hours of work, while their working, so all in all their total earnings will be even higher than their kind of standard way. I mean we're talking about economically at least we're talking about blackened way. This I mean that's it over the cords ass. I have time mass of Mass yeah yeah. How does this shake out? Historically? Other words was this advantage, what it wanted that advantage? Look like twenty years ago. Thirty years good, we know it looks like where we are today is as high as is ever been in the? U S, and the low point was about nineteen
Seventy five to eighty. Actually, when I graduate and ironically, a very well known labour costs friend of mine, Richer Freeman wrote a book like seven called the over educated America in which he argued that time transport, suggesting that too many people are going to call you now. If anybody followed that advice, it would have been the worst possible choice but if I may, because starring around ninety seventy seventy nine, their return has just marched up steadily. What what about now I mean we ve had a few years of pretty crappy economy, employment, wise. It is time to start thinking about the over educated Mary in problem, I would say, returns or even higher now than they, because the recession is that people are thinking about right, so they noticed that some of you graduate from college is having a very hard time getting a job, or they noticed that the unemployment rate for college grads has gone up a little bit. But if you do that, the right, contractual and say what
I didn't have a college degree it's much worse. The rise in unemployment was much higher for people with just a high school deplore, as, as has always been true. Every recession. Recession is always worse for less educated people, so is it safe to say, then that returns to college education in the United States are historically at a high? Yes, ok! So if that's the case, I guess that's great news for colleges. Great news recalled professors like yourself. It's great news for people who plan to go to college there. There is a problem, that's the kind of the benefit side of the calculation, and we have already talked about cost. Ah, yes, the cost. As former FBI, man, enemies, L told us, you can get a fake diploma for a few hundred dollars, but the real deal much much more expensive
and our next episode we'll try to figure out. Why does college cost so much? I went to Elsie College. I think it's great place and I saw the other day there to wish for the incoming class and on the spit out my drink and what exactly happened in the college classroom to give graduates such an event. Later. I teach my students, I teach them very specific things, but I know that when I talked to them years later, they don't remember anything that I taught them I can s in the most simple questions about the material recover, and have no recollection whatsoever that tipple students that's all coming up next time on, for economics, goes to college part two
yeah come on in hay, Catherine. He can for sure when we do wrong. Mrs Catherine miles everybody, she produced this programme sorry to interrupt here, but this is just made me wonder, am is there anything you why you wish you could do, but you just don't have the education for him. I'd like to do surgery just casually surrounding foot, I dont Shoalford per year, but I don't really have the appetite to get that much education, but there now I'd like to be able to operate on people bran animals. But I was thinking because when, when you talk to our unease AL you said you now I always wanted to be a bad idea them here and so the radio staff- and I were we're thinking and we don't- we don't want you to be held back anymore, so we have a little present for you here. This is too good to be true, so it say a brown
envelope mailing Envelope says Congrats handwritten, an unofficial stamp nowhere seal Appalache and State University, the border regions for the university upon the recommendation, the families conferred on Stephen J, W the degree of d, after a philosophy and animal health So I congratulate my god. Thank you. So much this to my untrained. I looks like good widget diploma, Luciano, very profound where'd. You get it online. The company, I think, was called diploma makers that calm nice diploma, a hundred and ninety dollars a high degree want. I think about it. I think I am one whose people have my diplomas hang on a wall some. I have no idea where my diplomas are, but my ip train now my play. An animal health is definitely going to know all. Thank you very much, my congratulations
FR economics. Radio was produced by W and Y see ATM american public media and of here productions. This episode was produced by Catherine Wells. staff include Susie, electing Bird David, Herman, very Lamb and Chris Bannon Jake Smith, is our in turn calling Campbell is our executive producer. If you want more free, comics radio, you can subscribe to our podcast on Itunes or good of Crete. Economics outcome real lots of radio applause, the books and war.
Transcript generated on 2021-03-16.