Skip to comments.The Economic Crisis In Higher Education (See a BA Degree Worth over $30,000 a year ?)
Posted on 08/05/2007 12:25:01 PM PDT by SirLinksalot
Is a bachelor's degree in English (or history or philosophy or political science or any other subject in the liberal arts) worth over $30,000 a year? As the sticker price asked by more and more private colleges crosses that threshold, many families are asking that question.
The liberal arts education I received enriched my intellect (though not my pocketbook), but if I had a college-age child today, I couldn't justify paying over $100,000 for a bachelor's degree. It boggles my mind when I learn of a 22-year-old owing over $50,000 with only a B.A. to his name.
Apparently, I am not alone in my opinion. Enrollment is declining at many private colleges. Many families balk at paying such daunting fees. Increasingly, the significantly lower expenses of attending a taxpayer-subsidized state college or a rarity like Grove City College (2007-2008 annual cost under $18,000) present the only affordable options for middle-class families. It seems clear that the over-$30,000 per year colleges must find creative ways to reinvent themselves if they are to prosper or even survive.
This is easier said than done. Colleges tend to be some of the most change-resistant institutions in the country. Over the past quarter-century, the pace of change in American business has been breathtakingly rapid, producing massive changes in structure and practice. Many new companies and industries have emerged, while many companies that thrived in the 1980s have ceased operations or been merged into other companies. By contrast, if you were to sit in a liberal arts college classroom today for the first time in 25 years, you would notice a few superficial changes in the classroom (the presence of personal computers and a couple of other high-tech gadgets) and a modest updating of the curriculum (e.g., the addition of a computer science department), but otherwise, everything would seem comfortingly familiar to you. However, the winds of change are about to blow through American colleges.
Market forces, in the form of declining enrollments in the face of increasingly unaffordable tuition costs, will compel colleges to undergo major changes, just as other businesses have been forced to change.
Yes, I wrote "other businesses." Most college professors don't like to think of their schools as businesses. In fact, at many colleges today, it is the fashion for liberal arts professors to denounce business as a sordid, morally and intellectually inferior activity - even when their own college's business department has more majors than any of the liberal arts subject areas. These intellectuals need to curb their ideological or romantic opposition to business both for the good of their colleges and for the sake of preserving their jobs. Like it or not, a college is a business, and if a college doesn't give its customers (students) good value for their money (a degree that pays a decent return on a $120,000-plus investment), then the college's customer base will shrink. If the customer base shrinks too much, the college/business may close and those anti-business professors will have a chance to learn how much their own sheepskins are worth in the job market today.
Unfortunately, the needed attitude adjustment hasn't penetrated some faculties yet. For example, I know of a college in the over-30-grand category where proposals to establish majors in areas with excellent employment prospects, such as broadcast journalism, are routinely shot down by committees of professors in the traditional liberal arts curriculum. On what grounds? That the proposed majors are "too vocational." The rule of thumb seems to be that if an academic curriculum makes one readily employable, it is unacceptable. That is a shortsighted, suicidal position to take today when American families seem increasingly less willing to pay for a liberal arts degree and then watch junior have to sell insurance to earn a living.
The trend is not in favor of the private liberal arts colleges. A century ago, 80 percent of college students attended private colleges; today, 80 percent attend the less expensive, taxpayer-subsidized public universities. Several hundred private colleges have folded in the past few decades.
Economically, colleges can't continue to pay the salaries of tenured professors who have only a handful of students majoring in their discipline. Unless a college has a rich endowment, such economic inefficiencies are an unaffordable luxury, and these colleges may have to cease offering these unpopular majors altogether. Instead of employing two or three full-time professors in a department with six majors, colleges may need to downgrade such majors to a minor served by one full-time professor supplemented by an adjunct part-timer or by having students take courses at another college in the area or perhaps taking courses offered over the Internet or by private enterprises such as The Teaching Company.
One way to repackage the liberal arts curriculum would be to move away from majors such as history, sociology, political science, and philosophy to something like "Asian studies." There will be abundant employment opportunities in business, government, nongovernmental organizations, missionary work, etc., for students educated in an Asian language and a comprehensive understanding of the history, belief systems, social structure and traditions, etc., of Asian countries. It makes more sense today to offer courses in Chinese language than in French.
It will be fascinating to see how higher education evolves to cope with current economic realities. Change is in the air. The status quo will go.
Additionally, the privates colleges and Ivy league type places don’t have a monopoly on the information they impart. It’s available for free at most any decent public library. Just gotta have that sheepskin to impress prospective employers.
I have always wondered where those who majored in such esoteric areas as — Gender Studies, Gay and Lesbian Studies, Africa-American Studies evantually end up after graduation.
Is there a study that tracks the career of such graduates ?
RE: Its available for free at most any decent public library. Just gotta have that sheepskin to impress prospective employers.
Some Colleges and Universities are even offering their lectures for FREE on the internet. See this from MIT as an example :
“Market forces, in the form of declining enrollments in the face of increasingly unaffordable tuition costs, will compel colleges to undergo major changes, just as other businesses have been forced to change.”
No they won’t because colleges are not subject to market forces. They are protected by government subsidies and student loans.
It would be a sad day to see today's universities succumb to market pressures and eschew the well-rounded universal education that is their legacy in favor of a vocational approach. But since nobody seems willing to pay for well-educated generalists, that move seems inevitable.
This is the complete account of the Death of Antioch College ( written by Washington Post columnist, George Will ( from the link I cited above ) ):
During the campus convulsions of the late 1960, the film “To Die in Madrid,” a documentary about the Spanish Civil War, was shown at a small liberal arts college famous for its dedication to all things progressive.
When the narrator intoned, “The rebels advanced on Madrid,” the students cheered.
Administrators at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio, had been so busy turning undergraduates into vessels of liberalism and social improvement they hadn’t found time for teaching them the rebels in Spain were Franco’s fascists.
That’s why it’s heartening that Antioch will close after the 2007-08 academic year.
Members of its Board of Trustees says the decision is to “suspend operations,” and they talk dottily about reviving the institution in 2012.
There is a minuscule market for what Antioch sells for a tuition, room and board of $35,221 - repressive liberalism unleavened by learning.
Founded in 1852, Antioch was, for a while, admirable.
One of the first colleges to enroll women and blacks, it was a destination for escaped slaves.
Its alumni include Stephen Jay Gould, Coretta Scott King and Rod Serling, whose “Twilight Zone” never imagined anything weirder than what Antioch became when its liberalism curdled.
In 1972-73, Antioch had 2,470 students. In 1973, a protracted and embittering student and employee strike left the campus physically decrepit and intellectually toxic.
By 1985, enrollment was down 80 percent. This year, there might be 300 students and a faculty of 40.
In 1993, Antioch administrators became international punch lines when they wrote rules to ensure all sexual conduct would be consensual:
“If the level of sexual intimacy increases during an interaction, the people involved need to express their clear verbal consent before moving to that new level.”
Although laughable, Antioch wasn’t funny.
Former public radio correspondent Michael Goldfarb matriculated at what he calls the “sociological petri dish” in 1968.
In his first week, he twice had guns drawn on him, once “in fun” and once by a couple of drunken ex-cons, “whom one of my classmates, in the interest of breaking down class barriers, had invited to live with her.”
A true Antiochian still, Goldfarb says: “I do think I was made stronger for having to deal with these experiences.”
Steven Lawry - Antioch’s fifth president in 13 years - arrived 18 months ago.
He told Scott Carlson of the Chronicle of Higher Education about a student who left after being assaulted because he wore Nike shoes, symbols of globalization.
Another left because, she told Lawry: “They all think they are so different, but they are just a bunch of conformists.”
Carlson reports Lawry stopped the student newspaper’s practice of printing “announcements containing anonymous, menacing threats against other students for their political views.”
Antioch officials invited Mumia Abu-Jamal to deliver the 2000 commencement speech, which he recorded on death row in a Pennsylvania prison, where he lives because 26 years ago he shot a Philadelphia police officer first in the back, then three times in the face. The invitation was a way of saying what?
In an essay in the Chronicle, Cary Nelson, Antioch Class of 1967 and now a professor of English at the University of Illinois, waxes nostalgic about the fun he had spending much time away from campus, receiving academic credits.
What Nelson calls “my employee resistance to injustice” got him “released from almost every job I had until I became a faculty member.”
“My little expenditure was never noticed” when “I used some of Lyndon Johnson’s anti-poverty money” to bus anti-Vietnam war protesters from Harlem to Washington.
Given this idea of “work experience” in the “real world,” it’s not surprising the college never produced an alumni cohort capable of enlarging its risible $36 million endowment.
“Ben & Jerry could have named a new flavor for us,” says John Feinberg, Class of 1970 and president of the alumni board.
His lament for a forfeited glory is a suitable epitaph for Antioch.
Unless Congress comes up with some rescue package or takes over this school and others going its way, I think this article is on to something.
Which is exactly why the colleges are willing to take most middle-GPA students. If the kids had to pay cash up front, themselves, it wouldn’t be happening at all.
A degree in anything can make you a lot of money...it just depends on the person who got the degree. I know of a lot of English majors that are doing quite well right now.
“Additionally, the privates colleges and Ivy league type places dont have a monopoly on the information they impart. Its available for free at most any decent public library. Just gotta have that sheepskin to impress prospective employers.”
Harvard in particular and some of the other Ivy’s and elite universities have endowments that are so large that any student that they accept can afford to attend the college.
At Harvard any student coming from a family earning $60,000 or less gets a free education and families earning between $60,000 and $80,000 a year get a tuition cost reduction.
The average undergraduate at Harvard receives $33,000 in financial aid which is about 70% of the cost of the education per year.
They usually end up in government.
one thing I’ve noticed is that a lot of conservatives don’t like the idea of government schools, but they don’t have as much of a problem with government colleges. Get the government out of ALL education!
“What do you call an English major after he graduates?”
I think the future is in having a trade. No matter how much other stuff is “outsourced” or manufactured elsewhere, there is still a need for those who can install, service or repsir things, especially in the home. The problem for those of us in that kind of business today is the kind of nonsense homeowners are told by the $9 an hour “sales associates” at places like Home Depot and Lowe’s. Provide quality, service and conscientious work and don’t let people beat you down on price.
I have a Master’s and my wife is a Doctor, but its my opinion that too many jobs require and too many people get four year degrees.
A good IQ test (made illegal by the Supreme Court) would suffice for 90% of “college required” jobs.
By and large a BA/BS is simply a way to narrow the field for an employer and the knowledge gained in getting the degree is not important. Mathmatical and scientific fields obviously stand out as the exception, but I think most people with a BS are not working in the field of their degree.
Something will happen like the move away from classical education by Harvard a hundred years ago.
“We have two young daughters 8/11 and are looking to the future.
The cost of a four year college is not (in our opinion) worth the huge amounts they are asking. We have come to the conclusion that two years at a CC is the first step and then chose the college with the curriculum needed for the chosen degree. You can save $60 or $70 by doing this. Amen.”
Indeed, that is a very wise option your 2 daughters have taken but right now there is a social stigma about CC that a top flight marketer couldn’t have created but at the end of the day 70 grand verses foolish pride and the 70k will win everytime and relieve your children will not have to deal with crushing debt for years to come.
I watched an MTV show about parents who were paying for their young adults to go to college and there was a man who just worked for a living who suggested to his daughter that she should go to CC first to save the family money and the little spendthrift virtually cried along with “I AM NOT GOING TO...” screaming.
Spoiled brat IMO.
My gray-haired mother considered going back to school to acquire a degree in English Literature. I told her she would just be disappointed. She knows the classics better than the English faculty at her local university. Of course, she knows nothing about Marxist and feminist hermeneutics, which is probably just as well.
some people send their kids to Bible College for a year to get them a good moral foundation before letting them be exposed to the depravity of the typical college campus.
The most worthless ones are typically requirements like diversity classes or women’s studies.
You would be better served spending the the money for a liberal arts degree on a MacDonald's franchise..
But, but, but, but, but, but, but.... there should be more government grants and bigger loan limits for kids to get their worthless English, Art History, Black Studies, French, Communication Studies, Women’s Studies, and Political Science degrees!!!!!! waaaaaa waaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!!! (/sarc)
Starbucks and Blockbuster video is where most end up.
Much of the anger directed at big oil and big drug companies originates at our colleges and universities and yet the average family spends far less on energy and health care than on education. Maybe big academia is ripping off parents of students far more than the scapegoats created by the employees of big academia.
Well, I can tell you from personal experience that a kid with a PhD in math(From Univ. Fl.yet!) can earn a million a year.....and beat out Yale, Harvard,MIT and Chicago guys for a job at J.P.Morgan on Wall St........
I got my BA at one of these colleges, many years ago. Cost then was $5K a year.
Nearly everyone who went was highly successful. Pre-med was big, econ was big, and poly sci was big, and a lot of the majors went on to become doctors, lawyers, and MBAs. Those who majored in the purer subjects, like English, Classics, and History also did fairly well. Of course, a law school or an MBA program will take plenty of guys from these majors if they have high LSATs/GREs.
Put the money in the bank and tell the kid to go to work.When he retires he will be able to live quite well and the money wont be going to some screwball moonbat professor.My private little war.
I have always wondered where those who majored in such esoteric areas as Gender Studies, Gay and Lesbian Studies, Africa-American Studies evantually end up after graduation.
Me too. I still remember when my kids came home from their AP calculus class and told us about their teacher's son who had been admitted to Harvard - and majored in Women's Studies. Often wondered how one made a living with such a degree?
I think a lot of people would agree with you, but I'd like to throw this out to the crowd -
I took a class in stats and one in calculus at a CC in prep for doing a doctoral program in business (I'm not a quantitative person and needed to improve these skills). I was shocked at the lack of attention to schoolwork, the cheating, and the lack of intellectual curiosity that I found. Compared to undergrads at my Alma Mater, Michigan, these folks, both youngsters and working people, were just not ready for higher education. Had my child attended for 2 years before college, I wonder if he would have truly been prepared, would have good study habits (most students at the CC did their homework right before class), and been intellectually engaged.
I'm all for the CC system, don't get me wrong, but there is a difference between getting an education and taking courses; I felt like the CC students were taking courses, 'If I have 45 hours I'll have a degree,' as opposed to, 'If I take this major, I'll really have an understanding of X.'
I think I would opt for sending the child to a 4 year school from the begining, but choose a good, lower-priced, state or local school, in order to have the full college experience from the begining.
Other people may have different experiences. I would like to hear them. This was mine, and even tho I'm a supporter of CCs and have some additional knowledge of them as my mother taught at one for years, my choice would be to send my child to an affordable 4 yr school.
In my line of work, at least until very, very recently, a bachelor's degree was worth very litter compared to actual real-world work experience. Now, my younger co-workers tend to have engineering degrees. Which is a waste, since the job, though technical in nature, does not fit the training that engineers gain in school. It's amazing how so many "smart" graduates know so little due to lack of experience in the real world.
The community college might not be the most financially sound alternative. They can knock out their respective initial years or an equivalent volume of general-education coursework through the Advanced Placement (AP) program in high school as I did. I thereby managed to cut a year off my college education, avoided most liberal indoctrination professors, and probably learned more in preparation for the high-stress high-stakes tests than I would have learned in the equivalent college courses. If your local high school doesn’t offer advanced placement courses and tests or teach them adequately (a very tough demand on teachers), then your daughters can get credit through self-study or home schooling and the College Level Examination Program (CLEP).
Many students who take the community-college route or who begin at satellite campuses that don’t offer their full major require three years, not two years, to complete their education anyway. This extra year results because of the prerequisite structures among required courses and some initial confusion that greets students not entirely confident of their major. I do not recommend that anyone attend college without first selecting a major; however, most major universities offer a variety of choice and specialization sufficiently wide to make some curiosity and exploration inevitable.
It would certainly do much to break up the accredited education monopoly that we now face.
We are not getting that in too many universities, who seem to focus on political indoctrination
Got to wonder why college is considered so important for so many. A journeyman ticket in plumbing, welding, or electric would be worth something although it would take some actual work to get.
I’ve seen figures (source no longer recalled, but recent due to tuition increases at my local university) of 12% annual increase in tuition, and 25% in textbook costs. I believe every dime of it!
Good for you.
People who send their kids away to a 4 year college are guilty of child abuse. These places are brainwashing centers for leftist ideology and moral corruption.
There are perfectly good online universities for getting the basic courses.
You seem to be stuck in the wrong century. Many college graduates today can barely read and write. People don’t go to college for education; they go because their parents tell them to go in order to get a good job afterwards. The entire system ought to be scrapped in favor of internships and apprenticeships for occupations from masons to marketing students.
As others here have noted, a good education is available online and at the library. What colleges provide these days is more like indoctrination.
It makes more sense today to offer courses in Chinese language than in French.
That doesn’t work -— not with hundreds of millions of Chinese who sometimes do better with the English language than native born people.
All true, but not fundamental.
Want to clean up Academia?
While he's right to them businesses I do not believe they will change as long as there are govt. subsidies (in the form of grants and loans) to these colleges.
I also believe there is no justification for the increases in tuition over the last decade. It's a fraud, pure and simple.
My son just finished his Freshman year at Notre Dame. I'm delighted to be sending him there, and amazed at the experience he enjoyed in his first year.
Your contention certainly doesn't describe his 4 year college.
who will abolish tenure? the colleges won’t because they can get away with it and all their professors want it.