No community college, no future

Without a community college, Erie, Pennsylvania keeps losing jobs and laid-off workers can’t afford to retrain. Industry is disinvesting.

Student aid fuels tuition inflation.

Free college! 24 years to pay!

Under Oregon’s Pay It Forward, Pay It Back plan, students would pay no tuition at state universities – if they agree to pay the state 3 percent of their earnings for 24 years. It’s a gamble for students and taxpayers, say critics. Students who plan careers in medicine, law, business and engineering will do much better paying the tuition up front, leaving Pay It Forward for students who don’t anticipate earning very much.

Is online learning for steerage?

Is online learning for steerage passengers, while only the elite actually meet their professors? MOOC madness is raising questions.

 App Academy‘s nine-week course in software coding is free — till students graduate and find a job. Then the for-profit takes 15 percent of their first year’s base pay,

an average of $12,000 per graduate. Graduates who aren’t hired within a year pay nothing.


College tuition and fees have risen by 893 percent since 1980, nearly five times the 179 percent rise in the Consumer Price Index and almost twice the increase in medical costs. Many colleges and universities plan tuition hikes for fall 2013.

Not everyone wants a cheap, no-frills degree

Some college students will choose a cheap, no-frills degree, but others will pay more for the “college experience,” which includes sports teams and student activities, writes a university provost.

But most students aren’t paying the full cost of their university education/socialization. Higher education is heavily subsidized by taxpayers.

Colleges hit tuition pushback

Nearly half of colleges and universities expect enrollment declines, according to a Moody’s survey. Tuition growth is slowing too. With years of depressed family income and “uncertain job prospects for many recent graduates,” fewer students are willing to pay high tuition at non-elite colleges.

Veterans fight for in-state tuition

Veterans are having trouble using the GI Bill to pay the full cost at state colleges and universities. New rules say vets can collect up to $17,500 a year at private colleges but only the cost of in-state tuition at public institutions.  With frequent moves required by military service, some vets can’t qualify as in-state students.

State funding cuts fuel for-profit growth

With state funding often failing to keep up with enrollment growth, many community colleges have wait-listed would-be students rather than raising tuition, concludes a U.S. Treasury report. That’s pushed students to for-profit colleges, which charge much more but provide the classes students need.

Trendy vs. truth: Can the university survive?

If universities aren’t going to teach truth, beauty, knowledge or reasoning — and they can’t guarantee liberal arts graduates will earn enough to pay their debts — something’s got to give, writes Victor Davis Hanson on PJ Media.

A fourth of liberal arts courses are trendy time wasters, writes Hanson, a classics and military history fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution and an emeritus classics professor at Fresno State. Students don’t learn a body of knowledge. They don’t master inductive reasoning and empirical objectivity. They don’t learn to write clearly.

(Trendy classes) tend to foster the two most regrettable traits in a young mind — ignorance of the uninformed combined with the arrogance of the zealot. All too often students in these courses become revved up over a particular writ — solar power, gay marriage, the war on women, multiculturalism — without the skills to present their views logically and persuasively in response to criticism. Heat, not light, is the objective of these classes.

. . .  college is intended as a sort of boot camp for the progressive army, where recruits are trained and do not question their commissars.

Vocational and technical colleges “are upfront about their nuts-and-bolts, get-a-job education,” he writes. They don’t pretend to teach humanities.

 Yes, I am worried that the University of Phoenix graduate has not read Dante, but more worried that the CSU Fresno graduate has not either, and the former is far more intellectually honest about that lapse than the latter.

Federal aid allows colleges to keep hiking tuition, leaving students deeper in debt. Professors complain that “grade-grubbing” students won’t take their esoteric courses. Why should they? Hanson asks.

. . .  does the computer programming major at DeVry take an elective like the Poetics of Masculinity to enrich his approach to programing? Does the two-year JC course on nursing include an enhanced class like “Constructing the Doctor: the hierarchies of male privilege”?

As a young professor, I used to believe in the value of a universal BA that would teach truth and beauty to the masses. I still do, but mostly as instruction apart from the university that now has very little to do with either beauty or truth.

Meanwhile, the economic value of a humanities degree is questionable. Most studies say a liberal arts bachelor’s degree is worth the investment, but how long will that be true? “I am reluctant to make the argument for the humanities on the basis of financial planning, but then the humanities are not quite the humanities of 50 years ago.”

Hansen suggests a national test in math and verbal skills and knowledge for a bachelor’s degree like the bar exams for law graduates. Someone who’d skipped college could take a longer version of the bachelor’s exam.

Most college students pick what they think are practical majors. Business administration is the most popular college major, according to the Princeton Review. Also in the top 10 are psychology, nursing, biology, education, English, economics, communications, political science and computer and information science.

4 more years: What’s ahead for higher ed?

What’s ahead for higher ed in the next four years? President Obama pledged to link federal aid to colleges’ willingness to cut the rate of tuition growth, but was that just campaign rhetoric?

California community colleges will use new tax revenue to add classes and reduce wait lists.