Anyway, it's worth looking at:
Government-subsidized loans have injected money into higher education, as they did into housing, causing prices to balloon. But at some point people figure out they're not getting their money's worth, and the bubble bursts.Any day now. I'm waiting and hoping for this day to come. And he's not even talking about law school. He's talking about college.
My American Enterprise Institute colleague Charles Murray has called for the abolition of college for almost all students. Save it for genuine scholars, he says, and let others qualify for jobs by standardized national tests, as accountants already do.
"Is our students learning?" George W. Bush once asked, and the evidence for colleges points to no. The National Center for Education Statistics found that most college graduates are below proficiency in verbal and quantitative literacy. University of California scholars Philip Babcock and Mindy Marks report that students these days study an average of 14 hours a week, down from 24 hours in 1961.Wow. So all the things that we say about law school are doubly true of college. I went to a great undergrad and I had a 4.0 and pumped it for it was worth. It never occurred to me that college failed in in goals of educating students in the most basic ways. Literacy?
I live in the hood, as many of you know. How does one know she lives in the hood? Well, if there are more people sitting on stoops then there are stepping off the bus in the evening, you probably live in the hood. But my neighbors are not completely nonproductive. Many are enrolled in a local college or community college. They are continuously taking classes--aimlessly. I have written many stories about my run-ins with local "students." There's the retarded guy who works at the local Duane Reade. You can tell that he doesn't have the intellectual capacity to be in college, but he's been going and will continue to attend college until he can get a Ph.D. in History so he can be a Middle School teacher (his goal, no joke). Or the guy who I overheard on the train that said that he's been going to school for Criminal Justice for 7 years and he was too good to take a job in Customs through connections, where he will top out at $80K--even though he couldn't form a full sentence. I don't mean to look down my nose at people, but I'm not sure either of these guys can even read. So, I guess I shouldn't be surprised. I guess the problem is more widespread than I thought:
The American Council of Alumni and Trustees concluded, after a survey of 714 colleges and universities, "by and large, higher education has abandoned a coherent content-rich general education curriculum."
They aren't taught the basics of literature, history or science. ACTA reports that most schools don't require a foreign language, hardly any require economics, American history and government "are badly neglected" and schools "have much to do" on math and science.So, the failure of college should be measured by the content of the curriculum and not the probability of scoring a job upon graduation. That's the same analysis we've been applying to Law School, which fails on both counts. Then these poor souls go from being an undereducated undergrad to an ill prepared lawyer. Why are we paying so much more for so much less? Well, isn't it clear?
Universities have seen their endowments plunge as the stock market fell and they got stuck with illiquid investments. State governments have raised tuition at public schools but budgets have declined. Competition from for-profit universities, with curricula oriented to job opportunities, has been increasing.
People are beginning to note that administrative bloat, so common in government, seems especially egregious in colleges and universities. Somehow previous generations got by and even prospered without these legions of counselors, liaison officers and facilitators. Perhaps we can do so again.Yes, of course. The parasitic administration that feeds off of other's misfortunes, i.e. your mortgaged future. Yet the politicians of this country have sold education as the panacea to poverty and stagnancy. Is it really? Weren't we doing better just 50 years ago with so much less of an education?
A century ago only about 2 percent of American adults graduated from college; in 1910 the number of college graduates nationally was 39,755 -- smaller than the student bodies at many campuses today.Wow. That is putting it into perspective. I guess too much of a good thing is no longer a good thing.
As often happens, success leads to excess. America leads the world in higher education, yet there is much in our colleges and universities that is amiss and, more to the point, suddenly not sustainable. The people running America's colleges and universities have long thought they were exempt from the laws of supply and demand and unaffected by the business cycle. Turns out that's wrong.That's a little premature, Mr. Barone. When schools stop opening up and start closing down, I will believe that they are no longer exempt. But I think we're a few years from that, especially with federally backed student loans and the protections that affords them. But I hope you're right. They need to start worrying about customer satisfaction or suffer the consequences.