Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Fatal attraction

No, not those brightly painted toes that distract me when the summer heat reveals those female feet ... but blogging about student debt and higher education
[What] do you tell perspective parents and students about the options they should be looking for, whether they should consider, you know, not going?
What would any responsible person tell them?
[We] really emphasize that metrics such as completion rates at schools, average amounts of student debt and employability at a particular institution once someone graduates should be the priority in choosing a school, and not, again, which university has the more popular football team or the more lush student center.
We should use such metrics because ...?
[If] we can reorient to those metrics, many people might be able to avoid going into an amount of debt that is crushing.
That is from the PBS News Hour interview with Andrew Rossi, the director of the documentary, "Ivory Tower," which is about "the growing worries and criticism over college costs and student debt."

(BTW, looks like the transcriber got mixed up with the prospective versus perspective.  Or, wait, did the News Hour's interviewer get it mixed up?  If the latter, well ...)

To me, and to readers of this blog this is nothing but the proverbial preaching to the choir.  It really does not take a rocket scientist, or even a first grade student, to figure out that reason why college has become expensive is rather simple--higher education has strayed far, far away from the mission of education.  It is now an enormous mostly "non-profit" arm of the entertainment industry, while occasionally holding classes for students.

David Leonhardt explains, very well as he always does, that it is not the debt that students at the prestigious schools have that is of real worry.  Those students will always succeed.  But, the scary story, which is also what I have often argued--like here--is with the college dropouts, a group that is also highly correlated with low and low-middle income households.
Many colleges graduate fewer than half of the students they enroll — and resist policy makers’ attempts to hold them accountable for their results.
Meanwhile, yesterday, this blipped in my Feedly:
Students may be graduating $30,000 in debt, but at least they live in relative opulence for four, five, or six years.
Why that sarcasm, you ask?  Here is an example for you:
At Wichita State, a new $65 million residence hall and dining facility at the center of campus has a waiting list while openings are plentiful at the university's older, lower-priced halls. It'll cost between $10,000 and $12,000 a year (including meals) to live in the new facility, compared to $6,800 a year for older residence halls.
Yes, students and parents care more about country-club living, fancy gyms with climbing walls, and, of course, football and basketball teams, and conveniently forget that the metric ought to be about "completion rates at schools, average amounts of student debt and employability at a particular institution once someone graduates."  And then the same students and their parents complain about the debt?

Why not talk about something pleasant when I am trying my best to maintain my sanity in this hot oven!



Ramesh said...

Lots of this appears to be a peculiarly US phenomenon. In most other countries, students try like hell to be frugal during student days. Even in Asian cultures where it is more the norm that a parent pays for the child's education. In Europe, even though education costs are high, most students work hard to try and not take too much debt. And certainly European universities don't spend millions on football teams.

Sociologically, it must be a topic for some research - why are you lot so unique, and often, significantly different from the rest of the world ?

Sriram Khé said...

Indeed, the US higher education system itself is unique, and the problems we face are also unique to us. By creating these problems, we are apparently hellbent on destroying the wonderfully unique higher education system itself :(
Beyond any systematic study ... the head of the University of California system said that well fifty years ago when the system was perhaps at its peak--as long as faculty get their free parking, students get their free sex, and alumni get football wins, nobody cares :(

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