What would it look like if you condensed all our hundreds of stories about student loans and for-profit colleges into a profanity-filled, hilarious rant that takes a brief detour to discuss Lyndon Johnson’s scrotum? John Oliver answered that question on Sunday night.
Just like it’s recently done with the payday loan industry, Dr. Oz, and net neutrality, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver took one of our favorite topics and made it much funnier than it has any right to be.
You can watch the whole video above, or just read the highlights below:
On the near-inevitability of leaving college shouldered with debt:
“Essentially, student debt is like is like HPV — if you go to college, you’re certainly going to get it, and if you do, it will follow you for the rest of your life.”
On the growing pervasiveness on student loan debt:
“It has surpassed Bob Marley’s greatest hits album as the thing seemingly every college student has.”
On slashed education budgets and skyrocketing tuition:
“In recent years, states have slashed funding for higher education by 23%. Public institutions have responded by raising tuition rates, forcing students to take out ever-larger loans. Why else do you think that colleges have many f*ing a cappella groups? They know they sound stupid, they just can’t afford instruments anymore.”
On a former University of Phoenix executive’s explanation that marketing expenses are often double the amount spent on professors:
“He’s basically saying, ‘Hey teachers — we’re not saying you don’t matter; we’re just saying that ads about you matter twice as much.'”
On for-profit college recruiters being taught to emotionally manipulate potential students through “pain points“:
“The only people that should be doing that are dominatrixes… or emo bands.”
On the fact that only 27 out of 115 people enrolled in one ITT engineering program graduated and only 13 (11.3%) of them ended up working in the field they studied:
“Everyone else would have genuinely been better off studying engineering at Hogwarts, because at least that way they’d have a f*ing owl to show for it.”
On allegations that recruiters at for-profit educator Ashford signed up veterans suffering from brain injuries, some of whom could not remember which courses they enrolled in:
“I will say this for for-profit colleges: They’ve just given us all an education in the depths of human depravity. We all have a diploma in that now.”
On obvious but effective lobbying by the for-profit college industry:
The Dept. of Education has been ordered to come up with a so-called “gainful employment” rule that requires colleges to prove that a minimum number of a school’s graduates are able to find gainful employment after they graduate.
In response to the initial attempt at creating the rule, lobbyists at the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities bombarded regulators with the following form letter, which many people submitted without even filling in the blanks:
“I am a career college student at [INSTITUTION] studying [PROGRAM]. [INSTITUTION] is providing me with the education and training necessary to obtain the job I’ve always wanted as a [CAREER].”
As ridiculous as it is, the efforts of APSCU were successful in scuttling the first go at a gainful employment rule. The Dept. of Education is taking another go at it, and APSCU is still trying to fight against the regulation.
So Oliver has drafted the following form letter, which he’s suggesting that people send to firstname.lastname@example.org without filling in any of the relevant information:
To Whom It May Concern:
I am [NAME HERE], a human being with [DESCRIBE AT LEAST SOME LEVEL OF SENSE] who is sick of your [SYNONYM FOR BULLSHIT].
Whatever the benefits of for-profit schools, your trade group is protecting the worst actors, and [ADDITIONAL INSULTS]. [IDEAS FOR PLACES TO CRAM THIS LETTER ONCE ROLLED UP]. [PROPOSALS FOR HUMAN WASTE PRODUCTS TO BE EATEN].
Thank you for your time,
[NAME HERE AGAIN]
Oliver’s advice to current college freshmen with student loans:
“You need to stop watching this show right now — you don’t have time for this! Get out there and enjoy the f*ck out of your college experience because you may be paying for it for the rest of your life.
“I’m serious: Drink beer from a funnel, kidnap a mascot, find out if you’re gay or not, and even if you are not, have some gay experiences. Do it now; it doesn’t count.
“Become that weird guy on campus who rides a unicycle from class to class, find out whoever the Winklevoss twins of your school are and steal their idea for a website, and shoot fireworks out of every bodily orifice you can f*ing find. Do it now, please!
“Make sure your college years are the best ones of your life because thanks to the debt that we are saddling you with, they almost certainly will be. Get out there and do it! Go nuts! Go crazy!”