3/4 say college is too costly

Higher education is critical for workforce success — and too expensive, according to respondents to a Gallup/Lumina Foundation poll. Seventy percent of those surveyed favored awarding credit based on mastery of content rather than time in class and 87 percent said students should  receive college credit for knowledge and skills acquired outside of the classroom.


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  1. College credit for stuff you already know…. Doesn’t that raise the question of why you need college?

    I saw a for-profit pitching an ad to that market segment, which presumably translates into “If you pay tuition we’ll magic your work experience into a bunch of credits.”

    • Sure, but it also implies the question of whether the value of a college education is worth the cost. The more widely-held the perception that the cost of a college education is excessive for its value the more attractive become shortcuts such as this.

      The ever-escalating cost of a college education, substantially in excess of the inflation rate, means that an increasing number of people will decide college is too expensive and look for any alternatives.

      Such as this.

      • Well, things like AP, CLEP, and alternative credits for being a SME (subject matter expert) certainly make sense, though most 4 year degrees will only let a student earn 30-32 credit hours this way (for associate degrees it’s usually a max of 15-16 credit hours).

        If one could earn say half their credits this way (all lower division coursework), i’d say go for it…

        Probably won’t happen in my lifetime 🙁

        • I guess it depends on how long you’re planning to live.

          I see a confluence of political, economic and technological forces that are undermining the educational status quo. Both at the K-12 level but higher ed as well. Things can change with shocking rapidity when the certainties are being undermined from more then one direction. Think the fall of the Soviet Union.

          Also, there’s a sort of implied assumption that the only places these changes are of importance is in the U.S. this blog being strongly U.S.-centric.

          But there are a lot of places in the world where the notion of sending junior off to Harvard simply isn’t a consideration. So there’s no assumption that an on-line degree is second best; there’s no “first best” for an on-line degree to be second best to.

          When economics and technology combine to put a higher education within the reach of people who don’t assume the importance of ivy-covered walls I think the high likelihood is that they’ll avidly seize the opportunity and run with it.

  2. I think the Duke Power USSC decision was one of their worst and we have been dealing – poorly – with the unintended consequences ever since. Duke Power used aptitude tests to screen for employees they could easily train for the needed jobs, which the decision essentially outlawed on disparate-impact grounds. A college degree, whether CC or BA/BS, now serves essentially the same function but removes from consideration those who have the inherent ability/trainability to do the actual job but whose interests/aptitudes are not primarily academic.

    • Roger Sweeny says:

      ” A college degree, whether CC or BA/BS, now serves essentially the same function but removes from consideration those who have the inherent ability/trainability to do the actual job but whose interests/aptitudes are not primarily academic.”

      Which may disproportionately freeze out people of color. Oh, the irony.

      • Precisely. If colleges only admitted those capable of real college-level work, and there was no AA for racial/ethnic “diversity” quotas, the effect would be even larger.

        What I have never seen addressed is the possible effect of AA on the middle-upper-middle class kids who disproportionately benefit (at least at top colleges). Upper-middle-class black/Hispanic contemporaries of my older kids (HS early 90s) rarely approached the AP load of the white/Asian kids and some were very honest about the reason: “I don’t have to; I’ll get in anyway” – and they did, with credentials that would have sent white/Asian applications straight to the wastebasket. I’ve always felt that that approach was poisonous.

    • Momof4,

      The Griggs vs. Duke Power decision came out the way it did due to the fact that Duke Power wanted to use the assessment in a way which actively discriminated against .

      Now, using tests in interviews isn’t illegal, as LONG as the exam is relevant to the position being applied for.

      If I apply for say a network tech position, the employer has every right to insure I know the difference between routers/switches/firewalls and interior and exterior routing protocols (though if an employer asked a person who was a CCIE to take the test, they’d probably turn around and walk out).


      • Mark Roulo says:

        For an employment test to be legal it must (a) be relvant to the job, (b) be given to all the applicants, and (c) be experimentally shown to correlate with job performance.

        Most tests for network tech positions fail (c) and are, in fact, illegal.

        My company sent me to a ” hiring within the law” class a number of years ago …

        • IIRC, the test Duke Power was using was essentially an IQ test, since someone with a score over their cutoff point would be able to be successfully trained for the available job(s) – because IQ is a reliable proxy for ability to complete the training successfully and do the job successfully. Now that “ability to train for and perform the job” is not allowed, a CC or college degree is necessary to perform the same function.

      • Roger Sweeny says:


        In the Griggs case, the trial court found that there was no discriminatory intent, and the Supreme Court proceeded on that basis. It’s holding very specifically says that there need be no demonstration of active discrimination. All there has to be is what is today called “disparate impact.” Specifically, in this case, on average, the whites who took the test had higher scores than the blacks who did.

        Ironically, this logic would also make it illegal to ask about schooling and degrees (since whites graduate all levels at higher rates than blacks). However, the courts have specifically exempted educational qualifications from the disparate impact test.

        • Roger, no one ever said the USSC actually gets their decisions correct, but rather that’s what they decided.

          Unfortunately under the doctrine of stare decesis (latin for ‘let the decision stand’ and establishes precedent for future cases), it’s very difficult to get a new case in front of the court to strike down a bad decision (Korematsu comes to mind in World War II).


          • Roger Sweeny says:

            The problem isn’t the Supreme Court. Griggs was interpreting the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Congress could amend the law at any time to make testing easier. It could extend to schooling the 3 part test that Mark Roulo describes. It has done neither. There is a fairly strong bipartisan consensus to leave things as they are.

            It will be interesting to see what happens if companies use online courses (and online testing) as employment qualifications. Will they be considered testing, which is pretty much prohibited or will they be considered education, which is not only permitted but encouraged as an employment requirement?

  3. Stacy in NJ says:

    For all the romantic talk about higher ed, there’s only ever been four reasons for it: class signaling, hard skill acquisition (doctors, lawyers, engineers), delaying adulthood to reduce workforce competition, and credentialing barriers for guilds.

    The past several decades have emphasized the last two on the list over the prior two. The result is tuition inflation due to government subsidies and a hike in demand. And, also poorly prepared, low skilled, credentialed young adults.

  4. And for that miniscule number of individuals who want to learn in the Renaissance sense of learn, at these prices they must choose very carefully to avoid indoctrination factories. Hillsdale College and Biola University come to mind.

    • Mark,

      Having taken a network exam for qualifying for an interview with a city entity (this was more than 20 years ago), I can tell you the information being tested on the exam was appropriate to the environment any hire would be working in, but in reflection, the examination was no harder than CompTIA’s Network certification (of course, certs didn’t exist back in the time I took the exam) 🙂