Posts Tagged ‘College’

College inflation: tuition and grades … correlation, causation or coincidence?

June 14, 2012

Couple of charts posted by Prof. Mark Perry caught my eye …

In one post, Prof. Perry charted college enrollment rates and tuitions.

Both slope upward,

Supply and demand ?


* * * * *

Keep the above red line (tuitions) in mind as you glance at the chart below: grade inflation.

The grades’ line also slopes up.

Sure looks like — as tuitions are rising — colleges are dishing out more high grades.

Cause & effect or just a coincidence?


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Education: a product for which people are willing to pay more to get less … go figure.

February 1, 2012

That’s something an older colleague once remarked to me.

So, true.

I often quip that if a student shows up at the Verizon Center and Lady Gaga’s concert is cancelled, they’re bummed.

If they show up for my class and see a sign that class is cancelled, they whoop and holler with glee.

And, on balance, most of them think my courses are better than the average academic offerings.

On a grander scale, many are predicting that high-priced colleges will be the next bubble to burst.  Folks have been paying an increasing amount of money to get a decreasing amount of relevant learning.  That’s not a good formula.

Government subsidies and “full fare” foreign students keep pushing tuitions up to levels required to support lavish facilities, expansive athletic programs, outdated delivery methods (think classrooms vs. online), and light teaching loads for faculty journalists.

For example, reported in the NY Post: The journal Academic Questions recently concluded that … many new graduates are finding that the degree they’ve earned is not worth the investment.

  • Now, most college grads leave school with large debts — more than $27,000 on average.
  • A college degree also no longer signifies that the recipient is either well-educated in the traditional sense or that he has acquired specific skills suited to the labor market.

That’s despite the fact that “most colleges have become trade schools —  far more expensive ones than their for-profit counterparts.”

  • By 2008, the number of bachelor’s degrees had risen to 1.5 million Americans, but few of these degrees were in the traditional liberal arts. Barely 2 percent of BAs were awarded in history and only 3.5 percent in English literature.
  • More than a third of undergraduate degrees are now earned in business, health professions and education.

The former president of St. John’s College in Santa Fe argues that it’s no wonder that students have fled the liberal arts:

  • For centuries, the liberal arts passed on what was best in Western civilization …  despite our practical bent, youth were encouraged “to pursue inquiry into serious and perennial questions.”
  • The humanities in particular were considered the “Keepers of the Culture” at a time when we believed we had a culture worth keeping and passing on.
  • Since the 1960s, however, our culture has been under attack, our history rewritten as one of unmitigated oppression and the values our Founders and subsequent generations held dear reviled.
  • Humanities courses in liberal arts colleges have replaced the canon of Western civilization with course offerings … aimed to show our benighted past and to condition us to a more tolerant future.
  • Students have fled such courses in droves to pursue technical or professional skills.

The Post concludes: Their parents — and increasingly the students themselves, through loans — are left footing the bill for degrees that neither pay off in the marketplace nor enrich the intellectual lives of those on whom they are conferred.

Good point !

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Obama warns colleges … yeah, right.

January 27, 2012

During the SOTU address Pres. Obama warned colleges and universities that they risk losing federal funding if they do not keep tuition costs down.


Loyal HomeFilers know that we rail often on the indefensibly high tuitions colleges are charging.

For example, see one of our all time favorite posts:
What do b-school profs and Lady Gaga have in common? 

Many pundits are predicting that high-priced colleges will be the next bubble to burst. Students (or their parents, or their companies) have been paying an increasing amount of money to get a decreasing amount of relevant learning. That’s not a good formula.

Government subsidies, student loans and “full fare” foreign students keep pushing tuitions up to levels required to support lavish facilities, expansive athletic programs, outdated delivery methods (think classrooms vs. online), and light teaching loads for faculty journalists.

Let’s see if Obama follows through on his threat … and see if it has an impact.

I’m betting under on both counts.

Universities are hot beds of liberal thinking.

No way Obama puts them in his cross hairs.

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A college degree is still worth it …

November 15, 2011

Interesting piece in Business Week

Punch line: Sure, it costs more, and technology is threatening high-paying jobs. But the Great Recession shows postsecondary education is more valuable than ever

Supporting factoids:

The share of jobs in the U.S. economy requiring postsecondary education went up from 28 percent in 1973 to 59 percent in 2008… … and is projected to increase to 63 percent over the next decade.

* * * * *
Median earnings in 2008 …

  • College graduate with a BA working full-time  … $55,700
  • Associates Degree (typically awarded by community and technical colleges)  … $42,000.
  • High school-only grads  … $33,800
  • Without a high school diploma ….$24,300

* * * * *

Earnings Power

About 25 percent of those in the top 40% of wage earners have only a high school diploma.

About 20 percent of workers with a college degree are in the lowest 40% of wage earners.

* * * * *

Unemployment rates:

  • 4.3% for college graduates and above who are 25 years and older.
  • 9.5% for high school graduates
  • 13.9% for those with less than a high school education

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Average real earnings are declining for college grads … but quant jocks still getting fat paychecks.

November 14, 2011

College grads’ average real earnings have declined almost 20% in the past decade.

But, there are some college grads still ringing the cash register.

According to

If you’re determined to find a job that pays top dollar, you’d be wise to study math and science.

Lucrative careers exist for the history, English and foreign language majors out there, too, but they’re harder to find.

But, all’s not rosy … browse the bottom rungs, too.


The top of the list


The bottom of the list


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College grads: low unemployment, but declining earnings …

November 11, 2011

Earlier this week, we posted that only 4.5% of college grads are unemployed … a lot lower percentage than you’d think given the coverage of the Wall Street Occupiers.

There is a flipside, though.

Mean real earnings for college grads have fallen by almost 20% over the past decade … reflecting salary caps at many companies and a re-mixing towards lower paying jobs.

Suggests that the ROI on college is going down, down, down



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Why everybody is okay with a broken (college)system…

November 10, 2011

In their book Academically Adrift, authors Arum and Roksa   … name all the key actors involved in higher education – parents, students, professors, administrators, and government funding agencies – and explain why, given the behavior of all the other actors, no one wants to do anything about high cost and “limited learning” at most universities.

They argue that limited learning on college campuses is not a crisis because the institutional actors implicated in the system are receiving the organizational outcomes they seek,

  • Parents – although somewhat disgruntled about increasing costs – want colleges to provide a safe environment where their children can mature, gain independence, and attain credentials that will help them be successful as adults.
  • Students – in general seek to enjoy the benefits of a full collegiate experience that is focused as much on social life as on academic pursuits, while earning high marks in their courses with relatively little investment of effort.
  • Professors – are eager to find time to concentrate on their scholarship and professional interests.
  • Administrators – have been asked to focus largely on external institutional rankings and the financial bottom line.
  • Government funding agencies – are primarily interested in the development of new scientific knowledge.

In other words,  the system satisfies the needs of all the players … which explains why everybody seems satisfied with the status quo.

And, explains why there will be a loud cheer when the President issues an Executive order to dismiss all student loans.

Source EconoLib
Thanks to Tags for feeding the lead.

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What’s the unemployment rate for college graduates?

November 9, 2011

Based on the Wall Street Occupiers and the mainstream media reports, you’d think it’s sky high, right?

Well, according according to the BLS it’s 4.5%.  … that’s versus 9.1% for all categories, 14.3% for drop-outs, 9.3% for high school grads, and 8.9% for those with some college.





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C’mon man: “Jay-Z 101” is just the tip of the iceberg …

November 7, 2011

A loyal HomaFiles reader linked me to a site that has an expansive list of dumb & dumber college courses.

Here are my dozen favorites …  I saved the best for last.

  1. Campus Culture and Drinking: As many students may have been sad to learn, this course doesn’t encourage students to go get trashed, instead asking them to more carefully consider the social and cultural aspects of drinking on campus. [Duke]
  2. American Degenerates: Learn more about the relationship between writers and early Americans and their sense of personal identity in this course. [Brown]
  3. Age of Piracy: Johnny Depp’s kooky but sexy Jack Sparrow has gotten many students interested in learning more about the pirating arts, and this course offers them the chance to take a look at the much less appealing, real-life lives of pirates. [Arizona State]
  4. Alien Sex: Explore the weird, wild and depraved aspects of sex between humans and monsters alike. [University of Rochester]
  5. Mail Order Brides? Understanding the Philippines in Southeast Asian Context: As off-putting as it sounds to most people, mail order brides are a real thing, and students at this prestigious university can learn why the phenomenon exists and is so prevalent in the Philippines through this course. [Johns Hopkins]
  6. The Simpsons and Philosophy: While the Simpsons may appear to be just good entertainment, this course shows the deeper philosophical issues under all those “d’ohs.” [UC Berkeley]
  7. Arguing with Judge Judy: Popular ‘Logic’ on TV Judge Shows: Ever felt like the plaintiffs on TV judge shows have some pretty questionable logic? This class addresses that subject directly, allowing students to pull apart courtroom excuses just like Judge Judy. [UC Berkeley]
  8. How to Watch Television: Though most of us are pretty adept at turning on the TV and vegging out, this course aims to teach students how to watch TV actively. [Montclair]
  9. Tightwaddery, or The Good Life on a Dollar a Day: While the title might elicit some laughs, this course offers some sage advice on breaking the bonds of consumerism and fighting back against the status quo. And if that isn’t part of a well-rounded college education then what is? [Alfred]
  10. Getting Dressed: While many students wouldn’t have made it to college without some idea of how to get dressed in the morning, this class takes it one step further and takes a look at what it really means to wear those Uggs or backwards baseball cap. [Princeton]
  11. Stupidity: What better topic to rail against at college than stupidity? This course examines it at depth from literary, social and philosophical perspectives. [Occidental]
  12. American Pro Wrestling: While the words “MIT” and “pro wrestling” may not be two you’d bring together, this course asks students at the tech-savvy school to think about the cultural implications of the often-theatrical wrestling world. [MIT]

Is college worth it? You bet it is.

Thanks to AY for feeding the lead.

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C’mon man: A college course on Jay-Z ???

November 4, 2011

You just can’t make this stuff up.

Parents are shelling out about $5,000 in tuition money so their kids can probe the deep thoughts of rapper Jay-Z.

* * * * *
Excerpted from Wash Post : Jay-Z 101

Rapper Jay-Z is now being examined in the ivory towers of academia.

One of the most popular courses at Georgetown is — SOCI-124-01 “Sociology of Hip-Hop — Urban Theodicy of Jay-Z.”

Prof. Michael Eric Dyson asks:  “What’s the intellectual, theological, philosophical predicate for Jay-Z’s argument?”

He says that Jay-Z’s work has proved to be powerful, effective and influential. And it’s time to wrestle with it.”

When the class reached its 80-student enrollment cap the first week of the semester, Dyson relocated to a bigger room that could seat 140 students. That’s the official head count, anyway.

* * * * *

Tell me again why we’re behind in math & science …

Thanks to JMH for feeding the lead.

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The cost of college …

November 1, 2011

Given the uproar from the Occupiers and Campaigner-in-Chief, I got curious about the facts re: college tuitions.

According to the College Board. here’s what it really costs to attend college:

  • Public two-year colleges charge, on average, $2,713 per year in tuition and fees.
  • Public four-year colleges charge, on average, $7,605 per year in tuition and fees for in-state students.
  • Public four-year colleges charge, on average, $19,595 per year in tuition and fees for out-of-state students.
  • Private nonprofit four-year colleges charge, on average, $27,293 per year in tuition and fees.

The College Board adds: “Keep in mind that — due to grants and other forms of financial aid — the actual price the average undergraduate pays for a college education is considerably lower than the published tuition and fees.”

* * * * *
For the record, Georgetown University charges undergrads $40,920 per year in tuition … and about $10,000 in room, board and miscellaneous charges … MBAs pay a couple of bucks short of $50,000 — just for tuition.

Ouch !

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