in Higher Ed

From the bad PR in recession times…

Debt

Between this graph which trended on Digg and a recent story in the NY Times about Reed College and the decline of “need-blind” admissions, the money questions aren’t going away.

The questions aren’t going away, though.

So when people say:

My tuition in 1959 at Cornell University was $650 per semester. A Chevy Impala cost $3450. Today, the Chevy costs 8 times more. Why does Cornell cost 70 times more?

It’s problematic for the industry and if folks don’t get on the offensive, it’s going to get worse before it gets better.

Someone else addressed the subject in the comments:

As an alumnus and administrator of a small liberal arts college with a reputation and challenges similar to Reed’s, I empathize with their predicament. I suspect that they will weather this storm and the world will be better for it. To those who think we should all go to “State U”, get engineering degrees and make money (not that there’s anything wrong with that…), I would suggest that the world would be poorer for it. There’s a reason that they (and we) pump out Fulbright and Rhodes Scholars and disproportionate numbers of Peace Corps volunteers: we teach young men and women to think, to reason, and to care. There’s a need for that in this world, just as there’s a need for engineers and accountants and mechanics and plumbers. This country could implement an efficient one size fits all, standardized higher education system, but I suspect we’d regret it.

  1. The comment from the liberal arts administrator makes an important point. But I don’t think there’s any danger of an influx of students pursuing engineering degrees in the coming years. The percentage of college-bound high school students indicating an interest in engineering as a course of study has hovered around 5 percent for several years, and even if interest were to double (what a concept!), engineering enrollment would still be smaller than many of us believe it should be to help address the economic and technological issues facing our country.

    At this time in our nation’s history, a strong case should be made for ALL of higher education. It’s the proverbial rising tide that lifts all boats.

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