Autumn Break

Due to business commitments and personal travel plans, I’ve decided to take an autumn break from posting and keeping abreast of developments in the world of higher ed on a daily basis. Hence, the blog will be going off-line for a while.

If there are any developments that warrant a brief mention, I’ll tweet them @gecornelius. Feel free to follow me on Twitter.

Until then.

 

Elite Liberal Arts Colleges Facing Softening Demand

There is a point I neglected to make in yesterday’s post about falling enrollments at Northeast and Midwest liberal arts colleges that probably merited mention: the softening demand for liberal arts colleges is not restricted to lower tiered colleges. Indeed, some of the elite institutions reached farther down in their wait lists this year than normal. Continue reading

3 Things the Feds Could Do to Help College Students

There is much to be thankful for and our system of colleges and universities is one of them. The human and capital infrastructure is amazing. Particularly notable is our research universities and graduate programs — the likes of MIT, Stanford, Harvard, Berkeley and many others. But all is not well for it’s the undergraduate programs that educate the masses. And it’s hard to make the case that our undergraduate programs are best in class.

The deficiencies are substantial and generally fall under two main categories: quality and priceThe lack of quality at many of our colleges is shocking. Annually, the system produces graduates unprepared for life’s challenges and opportunities. It’s not a universal problem (there are superb schools and programs), but it’s pervasive. In many cases, the curricula are obsolete and teaching methods are frozen in time and ineffective, seemingly immune to evolution based on knowledge and capabilities. Meanwhile, over 42% of grades given are As. At least we feel good about ourselves.

Price is the other major problem. Student-loan debt is roughly $1.2 trillion, and default rates are high. The cost of a college education has been rising far faster than family incomes for a very long time. The system says it’s giving students and families what they want. In reality, the system is giving itself what it wants. There is little regard for students’ finances and long-term interests. Promissory notes are pushed under their noses by administrators all too willing to put their and their institutions’ “needs” above those of their students. Shameful practices, yet there is little shame.

So how did we get into this mess? Who is responsible? More importantly, who can help get us out?

Today, I focus on just one of the culprits: the federal government. Continue reading

Debt-Sensitive College Students Are Reducing Expenses

This month countless college freshmen will leave home and enroll at colleges they can’t afford. They will rack up huge debt in the process. But not everyone is following this path. More and more college students are choosing to live at home, thereby saving substantial sums of money and often avoiding debt entirely. Continue reading

Student Debt Linked to Worse Health and Less Wealth

This post’s title has been borrowed from this report by the Gallup organization about student debt. As one would expect, Gallup confirms the insidious nature of student debt.

But we already know this, right? Well, perhaps not. Perhaps the young people who haven’t had the life experiences many of us Boomers have had, or who feel like they have no choice but to borrow whatever it takes to get that degree, don’t fully appreciate the power of debt to undermine financial and physical health.

I hope, as a society, we soon come up with a better way of financing higher education, or at least revert to the publicly financed system we had when I was coming out of high school. And I hope more of our colleges do a better job of lowering their costs and offering a high-quality educational experience that’s accessible to low and moderate income folk.

I hope.

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