Theology of Harry Potter: College students graduate with massive debt, useless degrees


WASHINGTON, April 25, 2014 — The “Theology of Harry Potter” is being offered by Centre College, a small private college in Danville, Kentucky. The course is an upper level, for-credit class which, according to the course description, helps students understand theological concepts such as “God, sin and theodicy.”

Centre College is rated as one of the best national liberal arts colleges and its tuition for 2014-2015 will be $46,000. Here is an obvious question that parents of any student at Centre College should ask:

“How is taking this course going to help you get a job when you graduate?”

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One blogger commented this course would help fill the ranks of comic store clerks.

As part of the class work, students will be required to read at least one of the Harry Potter books. It is a safe bet most of them already have read them, or at least seen the movies.

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Centre College is a private college and has the right to pick their curriculum. But just because someone can do something, doesn’t mean they should.While the comment about comic store clerk futures may have been a little snarky, it is right on point. A class called “The Theology of Harry Potter” is a tremendous waste for students who are paying their way through school with student loans, and it is an expensive luxury for any student who takes it.

When those students graduate, they are going to get a massive shock. It is called “reality.”

A degree in “Harry Potter” is useless in the job market. Degrees in “Queer studies,” “Gender studies,” “Women’s studies,” and “Feminist theory” guarantee graduates in those programs unemployment.

A 2011 story in NYU Local told about New York University alumna Courtney Munna, who graduated with degrees in religious studies and women’s studies. She also had $100,000 in student loan debt and was now shocked she was having trouble paying that debt. She is learning that today’s colleges and universities are a massive con game. Eighteen-year-old students are being sold a four year party; they will drink a lot, hook up a lot, get useless degrees, and get the shock of their lives when they graduate, can’t get a job and have to start paying their student loans back.

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The real winners in the college game are the bizzaro world professors who come up with ridiculous and insane courses they can teach while receiving six figure salaries. The really big winners are university administrators, some of who draw seven figure salaries and build massive empires on the backs of their students.

Education is a bubble that is much worse than the housing bubble.

Perhaps this nation needs to have a discussion about the value of a college education. Unless they have a specific plan for what they want to do with their lives, 18-year-olds are best off either avoiding college or starting at a state school they can pay for without student loans

If America is to have this discussion about education, perhaps America needs to have a discussion about changing the nature of college. College is not a four-year party, nor is it a factory for producing people with useless degrees. It is also not a factory for producing left wing activists.

The “Theology of Harry Potter” is not going to do those students any good in their future life. But those students may well need divine intervention to help them with their crushing student loan debt.

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Judson Phillips is the founder of Tea Party Nation, one of the largest Tea Party Groups in the country and the number one national tea party site on the Internet. A lawyer by profession, Judson has been involved in politics since his teens. “Ronald Reagan inspired me,” he says. Judson became involved in the Tea Party movement in February 2009 after hearing Rick Santelli’s rant on CNBC. “I heard there was going to be a Tea Party in Chicago inspired by Santelli, but didn’t know if anyone was doing a rally in Nashville where I was based. Finally I emailed Michelle Malkin and asked her if there was a Tea Party in Nashville. Malkin sent an email back saying, ‘No, why don’t you organize one?’ I did.” The first Tea Party in Nashville was held late February 2009 which drew a crowd of about 600. Judson then organized the Tax Day Tea Party in Nashville, which drew over 10,000 people into downtown. It was at this time that Tea Party Nation was formed. Later that year, Judson decided to bring activists from across the country together, so he organized the first National Tea Party Convention in February 2010, which featured Alaska’s former Governor and Republican Vice Presidential Nominee, Sarah Palin as it’s keynote speaker. He currently manages the Tea Party Nation website, writes several daily columns and is working on more projects than any one person should. He is a frequent guest on cable and broadcast news shows, including on Fox, MSNBC, CNN and others.
  • JWPicht

    You make some good points. Students should be aware of the return on investment of different degrees and programs, and judge carefully before dropping tens of thousands of dollars on one of them. But I have to laugh when you say that profs who teach courses on Harry Potter are making 6-figure salaries. A full professor of engineering or finance is likely to be in that 6-figure range. They have other options, and there aren’t huge numbers of new PhDs wanting their jobs.

    Humanities and liberal arts profs (the Harry Potter course would probably be taught in an English department) make relatively much less. There are thousands of new humanities PhDs loosed on the market every year, most of them as unemployable as the undergraduates from their same programs. The profs who come up with these courses benefit from getting to teach courses that are fun for them and by keeping their student numbers up, but they aren’t making huge salaries as they do it.

    Their departments benefit by pushing up their enrollment numbers. Profs and their departments are in the position of entertainers, attempting to draw in customers by offering them courses that they think students will want and that don’t threaten to hurt their GPAs. Language departments are dying because students don’t want to take hard language courses and risk bad grades (you know how to conjugate читать or you don’t; you can’t BS your way into a passing grade if you don’t), and languages aren’t required by many programs. Give a student a choice of taking calculus or not taking it, and most won’t take it. “Harry Potter,” on the other hand …

    The crisis in universities hasn’t been foisted on the public by professors. Students, their parents, administrations, and banks that make student loans are all complicit in this mess, and government programs that pump money into student pockets to help them pay tuition have primed and fueled the bubble. Profs often become independent contractors who simply provide what their audience wants.

  • notateapartierandneverwillbe

    There are no good points in this essay. None. Centre is actually ranked high on ROI. This is one small course of many that students can take. They are required to take courses in general requirements and their major, courses the author chooses to ignore. If the students take one fun course which teaches critical thinking skills the author says their entire college experience is a waste of time. However, I can see from this article the author does not place any importance on critical thinking skills since he apparently has none.

    • JWPicht

      You miss the forest for the trees. It would be absurd to argue that every course a student takes should be evaluated on ROI, or that there’s no room for courses that are “out there” in the curriculum. But English departments around the country have made themselves irrelevant to even the idea of a rounded education by ejecting Shakespeare and other DWMs from the core curriculum in favor of letting students put together an eclectic collection of courses on everything from comic books to sci fi to porn to Harry Potter. The value of the English degree has been gutted.

      This is true of a wide variety of majors. They return nothing except the pleasure of walking across the stage at commencement. There is no core, no center to a liberal arts or humanities education. It becomes whatever students want it to be, and they’re not in a good position to judge what it should be.

      The Harry Potter course may be a splendid introduction to critical thinking, but critical thinking is not highly valued on American campuses. It’s hard to teach and hard to grade, and it’s not much fun for students who just want to know what they have to know for the final. It’s hard to put critical thinking on the end-of-semester study guide that so many profs hand out.

      • keber

        Its true. People need to be careful about making good choices when they go to college. They need to make a plan and take course that lead them to wisdom, a good career, and an informed life. You do not need to go into huge debt to do this but you do need to make an investment.

        In this case, their is a LOT more to the story. My child is a Junior at Centre ,who took the course. It was part of January term where students can take a course of their choose. The curriculum the rest of the is very traditional and requires a student to take a core, i.e.. languages, science. The students work very hard. In fact two years ago, when he was a freshman Centre was ranked as the college where 1st years students studied the most. Almost no one ever gets a 4.0 at Centre.

        During his years at Centre, he has visited the Turkey and England with their study abroad program and will do two internships both with nationally recognized organizations. He will also, by the way graduate debt free because of the hard work of the development office to provide scholarships. I fully expect he will find gainful employment before he pursues graduates school because of the many active Centre alum who help each other out.

        Ah… for every student to have the advantages of what Centre offers and yes, to take a Harry Potter course or a course like it sometime in their college career because it interests them. What value does it have? In an interview, you might even be asked why you took it and what you learned.

        • cdavis

          Deleting comments that strongly disagree with the article writer simply make you look like ignorant fanatics

  • RevnantDream

    Their own teaching institutions have set them up for a life time of debt. We used to call that indentured servitude, or slavery.

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