ShareThis Page
Lori Falce: Dr. Phil’s Slippery Rock mistake is about labels | TribLIVE.com
Lori Falce, Columnist

Lori Falce: Dr. Phil’s Slippery Rock mistake is about labels

Lori Falce
1094909_web1_gtr-DrPhilSlipperyRock-042919
Dr. Phil McGraw

How important is the school name on your diploma?

For some, it might be worth a lot more than the paper it’s printed on.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the graduates picking up diplomas this weekend started their freshman years paying about $17,000 for a year at a public school. Go to a private school and that jumps up to about $40,000 annually. Spend a year at Harvard, the brass ring of U.S. universities, and you’re looking at about $67,000.

Some of the difference is the programs and professors. If you want to study nuclear engineering, Penn State and its on-campus reactor are probably going to be on your short list. If you plan on building robots to send into space, Carnegie Mellon is definitely going to get a campus visit.

But too often families are buying — and universities are selling — something else. The networking. The future. The prestige.

The problem is that none of that is a guarantee. Spend four years and check off all your boxes, you leave with a degree. It’s the world’s most expensive vending machine. But you can’t depend on anyone caring enough about where your degree came from to justify the price tag.

That makes the college cheating scandal all the more ridiculous. Especially for rich kids with rich parents who are probably not going to be scrambling for an entry-level position. I mean, if Mom can write a check to get you on the USC crew admissions list, she could probably pull some strings to get you a job somewhere, too. (And actress Lori Loughlin’s other daughter, Isabella, the one who isn’t a social media influencer, indeed was in several of her mother’s Hallmark movies.)

“I think it’s bragging rights for them and they don’t want to be the one parent that says, ‘Well, yeah, my kid’s going to, like, Slippery Rock,’ ” pop-psychology talk show host Dr. Phil McGraw said in an interview.

He’s right, of course. The super-rich parents who paid exorbitant amounts to get their super-rich children into schools like the University of Texas — where McGraw’s son Jay studied psychology — would never have wanted to admit that their children didn’t go to school somewhere that glittered.

But that reduces the value of the school rather than do what it should, reduce the falsely inflated cachet of certain schools as designer labels rather than educational institutions.

Slippery Rock’s president responded in “bless his heart” self-defense, prompting McGraw to apologize, claiming ignorance and saying he believed he was using “a fictitious example.” Uh huh. Right.

Maybe we could reduce our student loan problem in part by embracing our backyard institutions as viable, venerable options and making sure our kids understand that they are making a long-term investment, not planning a four-year vacation at an all-inclusive resort.

Lori Falce is a Tribune-Review community engagement editor. You can contact Lori at [email protected].

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.