Get your Wal-Mart education!

Earlier this month, the world’s favorite smiley-faced megastore announced that it will begin offering subsidized college education to many of its 1.4 million U.S. employees. Headline writers everywhere rejoiced at the “everyday low prices” jokes that await them.

Partnering with a for-profit online-only university, Wal-Mart is planning to drop $50 million over the next three years on the program. But employees will have to kick in their own cash as well: An associate’s degree will cost a Wal-Mart employee $11,700, a four-year degree would be a little more than twice that.

Meanwhile, the phrase “higher education bubble” is popping up everywhere in recent months. This is thanks (in small part) to President Obama, who announced in his first State of the Union address that “every American will need to get more than a high school diploma.” But Americans have been fetishizing college diplomas for a long time now–Obama just reinforced that message and brought even more cash to the table. College has become a minimum career requirement, a basic human right, and a minimum income guarantee in the eyes of the American public.

Say hi to London for me!

San Jose has been awarded the 2012 U.S. gymnastics trials, landing one of the premier events before the London Games while also increasing Silicon Valley’s Olympic sports profile. USA Gymnastics officials made the announcement Monday in a news conference at City Hall, saying the men’s and women’s trials are scheduled for June 28-July 1, 2012 at HP Pavilion, site of the 2007 Visa national championships.

The event will help put the South Bay on the Olympic sports map, considering HP Pavilion also is the site of the 2012 figure skating national championships. San Jose State was used as the “processing center” for American Olympians sent to Beijing in ’08. But the city has never held an Olympic-related event of this magnitude. The gymnastics trials are considered one of the United States’ three major Olympic selection meets with swimming and track and field. “It is our crown jewel,” USA Gymnastics president Steve Penny said. “You want to be working with partners who understand that and who know how to handle the crown jewels.”

San Jose officials won the bid because of their work on events such as the 2004 Olympic trials for rhythmic gymnastics and trampoline, the 2008 Pacific Rim gymnastics championships and the 2003 Titan Games involving a handful of Olympic sports.