The Launch of Stephen Colbert University

"Everybody makes mistakes in college. Why can’t one of those mistakes be . . . going to college?" – Stephen Colbert

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Stephen Colbert University - Andrew Hacker
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On the night of August 25, Comedy Central host Stephen Colbert took for-profit education to task by announcing the launch of his own for-profit school – Stephen Colbert University.

 It’s often been said that the best jokes contain an element of truth. That was certainly the case when Colbert made his announcement. Here are some outtakes . . .

  • "Folks, did you know that the average college graduate earns twice as much as someone with only a high school degree? Which, in this current job market, works out to . . . zero dollars."
  • "And you know, you get what you pay for. A certificate in massage therapy from a community college can cost as much as $520, while a similar certificate at a for-profit university can cost up to $14,000."
  • "These schools are owned by reputable corporations, like Goldman Sachs, which owns 38 percent of the second-largest online college."
  • "Well folks, I want in. that’s why I am proud to introduce my own school, Stephen Colbert University. Stephen Colbert University is open to anyone with an Internet connection and a letter of recommendation from Benjamin Franklin, or two letters from Ulysses S. Grant."
  • "Remember, at SCU, we put the 'you' in 'we make money off you.'"

Then after his announcement, Colbert introduced Prof. Andrew Hacker, author of the book Higher Education?: How Colleges Are Wasting Our Money and Failing Our Kids -and What We Can Do About It. And Prof. Hacker made some statements that we do not agree with.
"What do you get, as you say, sitting in your pajamas?" Prof. Hacker asked Colbert. "Staring at a computer screen. That is not higher education."

And when Colbert asked him, "So does everybody have to go to one of your corduroy-jacket, elbow-patch colleges," Prof. Hacker said, "I would say yes."

Well, Prof. Hacker and Mr. Colbert, "staring at a computer screen" can be a dream come true for single parents who are too busy working to go sit in classrooms, or for U.S. soldiers around the world who want to start college while they are still in the military. Not everyone has the option, or the money, to head off to an "elbow-patch" school.

And of course, Colbert didn’t make reference to StraighterLine's quality distance learning programs that do not rip people off to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars. Maybe StraighterLine is just not on Mr. Colbert’s radar yet. When we get there, we’ll be eager to hear what he has to say.

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