Today we’re taking a departure from our regular Around the Web feature to discuss the academy and the business of higher education in a themed column. Also I had a bunch of these higher ed links and needed to get out from under them. To the Interwebs!
Let’s kick things off with another one of those awesome RSAnimate features: Sir Ken Robinson, on Changing Education Paradigms.
Getting into College
- This graph visualizes data showing a very strong correlation between household income and student performance on the SAT. So if a student performs poorly on the SAT, as it appears that people from lower socio-economic backgrounds tend to do, where should they turn for access to higher education? Perhaps the for-profit industry?
For-Profit Higher Ed
- Here’s one law firm’s blog that invites you to follow their multiple class-action lawsuits against Westwood College in California, Wisconsin, Texas, and Colorado. These student testimonials are terrifying: hard sell tactics to get students to enroll, earning credits that don’t transfer even to community college, students picking up $75k in debt for a bachelors, and the school doesn’t even have accreditation.
- The State of Oregon sues the University of Phoenix, the largest of the for-profits, for defrauding the state public employees retirement fund allegedly misrepresenting its income by failing to account for losses due to students dropping out of classes. The state also alleges that students were billed for classes they didn’t take.
Tuition and Fees
- Inside Higher Ed reports what we already know, in the economic downturn when states are financially strained budget cuts to higher education are made up for in tuition hikes.
- But both the WaPo and the NYT were reporting that the net cost of going to college is lower today than it was in 2005 because financial aid has risen at a faster rate than tuition. Yeah, and how long will that last?
- Student debt is arguably the best measure for the real cost of going to college and according to this report the Class of 2009 is, on average, picking up $18k-$28k in debt. Here’s the interactive map. Note: students at for-profit colleges who may borrow as much as 45% more than their peers were not included in the study.
- Hey, if your institution needs extra bucks why not do like this Minnesota high school is doing and sell ad space on the walls? Ayn Rand is big with teenagers anyways, so they’re probably down with corporate sponsorship, right?
Higher Ed: What’s the Point?
- As Robinson points out in the RSA feature above, many college students are enculturated to believe that if they go to college they will receive a job upon graduation. And perhaps there was a time when that was plausible. Hell, there was a time when it seemed plausible that a 40 hour work week would earn you a middle-class lifestyle – so much for that. No doubt this desire for upward mobility is what is motivating many students to risk a lifetime of debt for an education at a shitty for-profit school without accreditation. At least with the horror stories coming out of Westwood above, it seems like the students would have been better off not going at all.
- Yet I am still troubled by the argument that not everybody should go to college. I guess this is because (1) I went to college and it was great, (2) I’m a professor and college students justify my existence, and (3) as a professional anthropologist I think anthropology is inherently valuable. But that the life-of-the-mind and art-for-art’s-sake line of thinking just doesn’t stand up to statements like this:
Over 317,000 waiters and waitresses have college degrees (over 8,000 of them have doctoral or professional degrees), along with over 80,000 bartenders, and over 18,000 parking lot attendants.
I mean, when “there are 5,057 janitors in the U.S. with Ph.D.’s” what’s the point? That’s not rhetorical question. Really, what’s the point?
Have you seen something Around the Ed that you’d like to share with the Savage Minds community? Leave them in the comments section bellow, because I’m still swamped with links! Thanks.