George Leef At Forbes: ‘A Tale Of Two Bubbles-Housing & College’

Full piece here.

‘To recapitulate, in the housing market, government meddling led to a widespread mania that drove up prices and caused many to think, “I’ve got to buy even if I can’t afford it because housing is a sure thing.” Similarly, government meddling in higher education led many to think, “I’ve got to get a college degree no matter the cost, because a college degree is the path to prosperity.”

Even if we’ve seen profound changes in our economy and social structure from previous generations; even if technology and globalization are dramatically changing our lives, people going to respond to incentives, flow through established channels, and pursue their interests accordingly.

The opportunity in D.C. is mostly about politics.  A bigger government is subject to ever more fingers in the pie.

I like this quote by Ira Stoll found here which I keep putting up:

‘Indeed, if there is a single fact that sums up the state of American political economy at the present moment, it is this: the Boston office building once home to Inc. Magazine and Fast Company, which chronicled and celebrated small and fast-growing businesses, is now the headquarters of a publication called “Compliance Week.”’

Many people have been flowing to universities and Washington D.C.  just as they flowed into housing, because that’s where a lot of money and opportunity are.  For my piece, people who are Left-of-Center tend to flow to these places first, gravitating towards health-care and education and other rent-seeking enterprises, but also to activism and government.  No surprise there.

That said, whichever party is in charge would also face municipal bond defaults, farm subsidies, the looming failure of Medicaid, a huge national defense budget with numerous contractors suckling away at the teat, a huge Department Of Education etc.  Our government has been inflated larger and larger over time, and I think we’re getting a terrible return on investment.

Is the situation in our universities similar?

Is government behind the bad incentives or has it simply amplified deeper currents?

Is higher-ed a bubble and will it pop like housing?  Slowly deflate?  Keep right on going?

——————

Related On This Site:  Repost: Mark Cuban From His Blog: ‘The Coming Meltdown in College Education & Why The Economy Won’t Get Better Any Time Soon’…From The New Criterion: ‘Higher Ed: An Obituary’,,,Ron Unz At The American Conservative: ‘The Myth Of American Meritocracy’

Analagous to old media? What to change and what to keepFrom The Arnoldian Project: ‘Architecture, Campus, And Learning To Become’

Should you get a college degree, probably, but you also probably shouldn’t lose sight of why you’re going and divorce yourself entirely from the cost:  Gene Expression On Charles Murray: Does College Really Pay Off?…Charles Murray In The New Criterion: The Age Of Educational Romanticism

Inga Saffron At The New Republic: ‘Granite Countertops, Flat-Screen TVs, Fire Pits: How College Dorms Got Luxe’

Full piece here.

Keeping an eye on that upmarket trend in some college amenities.  Meanwhile, the economy’s growing dismally at the moment between 1-2%, and enrollment numbers seem pretty flat:

‘How can student housing be going up-market at the exact moment when we are having a national freak-out over rising college costs and the staggering amounts of student debt?’

Wasn’t there that grad student living in his van a while back?

At least there’s this:

‘Administration officials once managed everything on campus, from the English faculty to the janitors, until they realized they could save money by outsourcing the non-academic stuff. It’s much easier to lease a piece of campus land to a developer than to undertake an arduous fund-raising campaign to pay for a new dorm. It’s also 20 percent cheaper: Private companies are able to shave $16,000 off the per-bed cost in their student residences’

Perhaps fewer administrators in the first-place might be part of the answer, administering fewer students who borrow heavily and incentivize rising tuition-costs with debt, as the government keeps pumping more money in?

A softer landing would be nice for that part of the problem.

Some photos.

From The American Conservative Blog:  The false promise of MOOC’s (Massive Open Online Courses). Reihan Salam At Reuters: ‘Online Education Can Be Good Or Cheap, But Not Both’

Megan McArdle At Bloomberg: ‘Why Education And Healthcare Cost So Much’

Analagous to old media? What to change and what to keepFrom The Arnoldian Project: ‘Architecture, Campus, And Learning To Become’

Should you get a college degree, probably, but you also probably shouldn’t lose sight of why you’re going and divorce yourself entirely from the cost:  Gene Expression On Charles Murray: Does College Really Pay Off?…Charles Murray In The New Criterion: The Age Of Educational Romanticism

Rachel Lu At Richocet: ‘Protecting The Caste’

Full piece here.

This seems like a reasonably balanced view from an adjunct:

‘I understand how this all happened. Originally adjuncts were supposed to be a temporary stop-gap to fill the occasional teaching shortage. A faculty member had to leave for a semester, so you hired some young graduate student or new PhD to fill in temporarily. Now adjuncts pull a major share of the workload, but nobody really wants to sacrifice their own interests to accommodate us, so they go on treating us like we’re a minor and temporary phenomenon even when we obviously are not’

I remember thinking when I was an undergraduate (most people view higher ed through the undergraduate lens, and it’s a limited view), that there was clearly a supply/demand problem for teaching positions.

There seemed to be lots of talented post docs, pressured to publish, many of whom would likely make excellent tenured material, with no place to go.

Addition: My view, of course, was as a student of the humanities.

Related On This Site: Reihan Salam At Reuters: ‘Online Education Can Be Good Or Cheap, But Not Both’

Repost: Mark Cuban From His Blog: ‘The Coming Meltdown in College Education & Why The Economy Won’t Get Better Any Time Soon’…From The New Criterion: ‘Higher Ed: An Obituary’,,,Ron Unz At The American Conservative: ‘The Myth Of American Meritocracy’

Analagous to old media? What to change and what to keepFrom The Arnoldian Project: ‘Architecture, Campus, And Learning To Become’

Should you get a college degree, probably, but you also probably shouldn’t lose sight of why you’re going and divorce yourself entirely from the cost:  Gene Expression On Charles Murray: Does College Really Pay Off?…Charles Murray In The New Criterion: The Age Of Educational Romanticism

Update And Repost-Mark Cuban From His Blog: ‘The Coming Meltdown in College Education & Why The Economy Won’t Get Better Any Time Soon’

Full post here.

‘Its far too easy to borrow money for college.  Did you know that there is more outstanding debt for student loans than there is for Auto Loans or Credit Card loans ? Thats right. The 37mm holders of student loans have more debt than the 175mm or so credit card owners in this country and more than the all of the debt on cars in this country. While the average student loan debt is about 23k. The median is close to $12,500. And growing. Past 1 TRILLION DOLLARS.’

Perhaps there won’t be a meltdown, but current debt levels probably can’t be sustained.  Technology, global competition and various other factors are putting pressure on higher education in the U.S, and forcing it to change.

It still seems as though a promise and a wish this past century we Americans have had for ourselves has been extended as far as it will go (education and opportunity for all).  There are a lot of people whose livelihood depends upon keeping things the way they are.

Also…

As Clayton Christensen argues in the startupgrind video below, universities have competed together to move upmarket, with rock walls, high-end facilities, and more and more amenities.  All the while, they’ve been getting heavier on management and administration.  Christensen suggests that newer business models are utilizing technology at their core, and training people on the job for specific skills.  This is seriously undercutting the old university model.

I find myself thinking of this misalignment (straying from the core educational mission, overpromising, the end of an era?) when I see splashy diversity-laden brochure photos, and huge athletic programs hyped as the faces of university life.  Costs keep going up and the value of many degrees keeps going down.

Perhaps there is a correlation with other overall trends in our society to run museums like businesses, the competition between the private and public sectors,  the growth of the ‘meritocracy’ and Washington D.C. and our continually growing government as well.  Perhaps I’m overhyping it myself, but the ‘greatness’ model is under serious stress.

Will half of universities be in bankruptcy in a few decades?  How much will technology disrupt education?

——————————–

Interesting times.  What have venture capitalists got right, and what might they be missing?

What has really changed regarding human nature?

Related On This Site: Should you get a college degree?:  Gene Expression On Charles Murray: Does College Really Pay Off?…Charles Murray In The New Criterion: The Age Of Educational Romanticism

The libertarian angle, getting smart, ambitious people off of the degree treadmill:  From The American Interest: Francis Fukuyama Interviews Peter Thiel-’A Conversation With Peter Thiel’ I think it’s going too far, trying to apply libertarian economics onto education, but Milton Friedman on Education is thought-provoking.

A deeper look at what education “ought” to be A Review Of Martha Nussbaum’s ‘Cultivating Humanity: A Classical Defense of Reform in Liberal Education.’

Nothing that Allan Bloom didn’t point out in the Closing Of The American Mind, at least with regard to a true liberal arts education: Update And Repost: ‘A Few Thoughts On Allan Bloom–The Nietzsche / Strauss Connection’

Perhaps some of the problem is due to the ideological interests holing up at our universities; at least in the liberal arts: Repost-Revisting Larry Summers: What Did He Say Again?From The Harvard Educational Review-

A Few Wednesday Links: Universities, Money, Multiculturalism And Ideology

Heather McDonald At The City Journal has a piece entitled Multiculti U on the excesses of the University Of California system.

Clearly, this is going on in colleges and universities across the country:

‘It’s impossible to overstate the extent to which the diversity ideology has encroached upon UC’s collective psyche and mission.  No administrator, no regent, no academic dean or chair can open his mouth for long without professing fealty to diversity.  It is the one constant in every university endeavor; it impinges on hiring, distorts the curriculum, and sucks up vast amounts of faculty time and taxpayer resources.’

Well, maybe it’s just more visible now, and even more visible in California.  McDonald gets some pushback in the comments, which are worth a read.

From those comments:

‘Eric Hoffer is quoted as having said something to the effect that great causes begin as movements, turn into businesses and end up as rackets. The UC 2 described by Heather is what has happened to the great causes of the sixties.’

Here’s that quote, as Hoffer highlighted the nature of all ideologies, and the reasons true-believers in ideologies spend so much time minding your business and producing so little of value on their own.  Of course, it’s good to realize there are many other things going on regarding education, including technology, the end of an era of economic dominance, student-loans, rising tutitions and colleges and universities competing upmarket with amenities and high salaries.  They deserve some of what they get, and we all suffer.

In other news, it’s good to hear the folks over at NPR, radio people with a a rather collectivist, 60’s idealist bent and a Dewey-esque vision of civil society have a new facility.

The choicest bits:

— NPR raises beehives on the roof to help pollinate its green roofs.

— The building is expected to be LEED Gold certified.

— The almost 800-person staff is extremely diverse, and they all are really glad the be in the new building.

On behalf of my fellow Americans, I have a few questions in response:

1.  Are there hippies, or any other organically-sensitive, environmentally-conscious human beings on the roof as well, to help keep the bees? 

2.  Have the bees been certified as low-emission bees and can we eat them as a source of protein?

3.  Is there some sort of diversity board or oversight committee to determine how diverse the staff actually is, and how glad they really are to be in the new building?

I hereby nominate myself as Director Of NPR Diversity Coordination, Chancellor Of Gladness, and Galactic Overlord Of Climate Change.  You’ll find me equally at home on Wall, Main and Sesame Streets, NPR.

Call me.

————————-

Related On This Site:  Repost: Mark Cuban From His Blog: ‘The Coming Meltdown in College Education & Why The Economy Won’t Get Better Any Time Soon’…From The New Criterion: ‘Higher Ed: An Obituary’,,,Ron Unz At The American Conservative: ‘The Myth Of American Meritocracy’

Analagous to old media? What to change and what to keepFrom The Arnoldian Project: ‘Architecture, Campus, And Learning To Become’

Should you get a college degree, probably, but you also probably shouldn’t lose sight of why you’re going and divorce yourself entirely from the cost:  Gene Expression On Charles Murray: Does College Really Pay Off?…Charles Murray In The New Criterion: The Age Of Educational Romanticism

A deeper look at what education “ought” to be:  A lot like it is now?: A Review Of Martha Nussbaum’s ‘Cultivating Humanity: A Classical Defense of Reform in Liberal Education.’

Allan Bloom thought about some of this in The Closing Of The American Mind, at least with regard to what he saw as a true liberal arts education: Update And Repost: ‘A Few Thoughts On Allan Bloom–The Nietzsche / Strauss Connection’

Megan McArdle At The Daily Beast: ‘The Absurd Lies Of College Admissions’

Full post here.

McArdle links to an open letter in the Wall Street Journal, written by a college-bound girl, to all the colleges who rejected her.   Worth a read.

So much for the blissful averageness of yesteryear, the sons and daughters of middle-America in the boomer generation who weren’t raised in the middle of an admissions ‘arms race.’

The ‘greatness’ model rolls on in many colleges and universities, where it’s slowly sinking in that times have changed, especially regarding student loans and technology.

I tend to favor Ron Unz’ assessment that admissions can be a mix of diversity, meritocracy, favoritism and corruption in many institutions of higher ed.

McArdle:

‘Naturally, this selects for kids who are extremely affluent, with extremely motivated parents who will steer them through the process of “founding a charity” and other artificial activities.  Kids who have to spend their summer doing some boring menial labor in order to buy clothes have a hard time amassing that kind of enrichment experience.’

We’re not exactly instilling confidence in the young, here, with good stewardship.

This blog still maintains that averageness could be aimed for again, as it’s a sign of a healthy economy and a dynamic, open society (not the Great society).  This will take time and good decision-making.  Prep schools as well as colleges and universities will always favor the rich and well-connected to some extent, or at least people with higher expectations and the means to invest in the kinds of suburban public schools and pricey private schools which lead to the best outcomes.

That’s human nature, and the flip side is often the excessive egalitarian’s vision which leads to a culture of ideological conformity, union favoritism, and the politically connected overseeing the budgets (your money, federalized and inefficiently spent).  There’s less for all but a few, and the poor are poorly served.

Politically, in the discussions I’ve had, the Left’s ‘military industrial complex’ is often the Right’s ‘educational industrial complex,’ and both are undergoing important changes along with American society.

The core model of university education can, to some extent, be made available online.  This will disrupt higher ed.  Here’s the venture capitalist angle:

Will half of universities be in bankruptcy in a few decades?  How much will technology disrupt education?

Related On This Site: Should you get a college degree, probably, but you also probably shouldn’t lose sight of why you’re going and divorce yourself entirely from the cost:  Gene Expression On Charles Murray: Does College Really Pay Off?…Charles Murray In The New Criterion: The Age Of Educational Romanticism

Repost: Mark Cuban From His Blog: ‘The Coming Meltdown in College Education & Why The Economy Won’t Get Better Any Time Soon’…From The New Criterion: ‘Higher Ed: An Obituary’,,,Ron Unz At The American Conservative: ‘The Myth Of American Meritocracy’

The libertarian angle, getting smart, ambitious people off of the degree treadmill…or the very few for whom college doesn’t work:  From The American Interest: Francis Fukuyama Interviews Peter Thiel-’A Conversation With Peter Thiel’ I think it’s going too far, trying to apply libertarian economics onto education, but Milton Friedman on Education is thought-provoking.

A deeper look at what education “ought” to be:  A lot like it is now?: A Review Of Martha Nussbaum’s ‘Cultivating Humanity: A Classical Defense of Reform in Liberal Education.’

Allan Bloom thought about some of this in The Closing Of The American Mind, at least with regard to what he saw as a true liberal arts education: Update And Repost: ‘A Few Thoughts On Allan Bloom–The Nietzsche / Strauss Connection’

Harvard is no place for Larry Summers, at least running the place: Repost-Revisting Larry Summers: What Did He Say Again?From The Harvard Educational Review-

Repost-‘Jerry Bowyer At Forbes: ‘A College Bubble So Big Even The New York Times And 60 Minutes Can See It…Sort Of’

Full post here.

Of course, in higher education, there’s a very good chance we’re looking at a bubble, where prices are being artificially inflated beyond the value of the education itself in an unsustainable manner.  There are many reasons for this, and the government getting into the business is an important one.

——————————————————-

A few related thoughts:

As Peter Thiel noted (and Charles Murray has for a while), there are some interests in our society which will not allow the open discussion of differences between people for reasons ideological which can become political, however plain these differences appear to us, however statistically valid they may be argued to be.  Thiel is a libertarian-minded reformer putting his money where his mouth is regarding the higher ed bubble, and Murray has been the voice of a contrarian social scientist, making unpopular arguments and observations for decades.

I think all of us recognize some good (and likely something essential) in public education, the educational experience, and the equality of opportunity found therein.  I tend to be more tolerant of much less conservative ideas regarding the social contract when it comes to our schools, young people, and the idea that all men are created equal for our democracy.  I also believe (perhaps naively) that we can find a way around the current impasse without necessarily backing ourselves into a European tiered solution, nor simply a return to the “soft-tiering” of prep schools and the Ivy League as a path to a good education, the right connections, and influence.

That said, it as vital as ever to challenge the failures of some interests who define the role of our educational institutions too broadly to be effective, and I think many of these interests aren’t going anywhere.   I think this is where Thiel and Murray are most effective.  Said interests have created:

1. The misplaced loyalty of teachers unions protecting their own and creating a twisted system of incentives that can reward mediocrity and harm students

2. The waste and mismanagement of public resources in public schools, and the politicization of the issue increasingly on the Federal level (all of us have a stake in this) sending good money after bad.  We have ended up with top down, inefficient set of standards and a huge bureaucracy. Much of it can be trimmed.

3. The tragedy and cost that the self-esteem movement will have to those who were never really included and challenged to learn in the first place, either dropping out or graduating without many basic skills, lacking in core compentency, and ill-equipped for the technological revolution and the global competition going on around us.  Civics, reading, writing, and arithmetic wouldn’t be a bad place to start…though most of these basic problems will always be with us.

It’s not clear to me at all that demanding our institutions serve principles of redistributive wealth, fairness, “justice” and the dread “social justice” really do any better with these problems in the long run.  And as for higher ed, it is deeply influenced by “lower” ed.

———————

All of this said, there do seem to be deeper issues at play, which are certainly up for debate as this subject has economic, cultural, political and personal implications for all of us.

Any thoughts and comments are welcome.

Addition:  How much good are our schools of education really doing?

Related On This Site: Should you get a college degree?:  Gene Expression On Charles Murray: Does College Really Pay Off?…Charles Murray In The New Criterion: The Age Of Educational Romanticism

The libertarian angle, getting smart, ambitious people off of the degree treadmill:  From The American Interest: Francis Fukuyama Interviews Peter Thiel-’A Conversation With Peter Thiel’ I think it’s going too far, trying to apply libertarian economics onto education, but Milton Friedman on Education is thought-provoking.

A deeper look at what education “ought” to be A Review Of Martha Nussbaum’s ‘Cultivating Humanity: A Classical Defense of Reform in Liberal Education.’

Nothing that Allan Bloom didn’t point out in the Closing Of The American Mind, at least with regard to a true liberal arts education: Update And Repost: ‘A Few Thoughts On Allan Bloom–The Nietzsche / Strauss Connection’

Perhaps some of the problem is due to the ideological interests holing up at our universities; at least in the liberal arts: Repost-Revisting Larry Summers: What Did He Say Again?From The Harvard Educational Review-

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Jerry Bowyer At Forbes: ‘A College Bubble So Big Even The New York Times And 60 Minutes Can See It…Sort Of’

Full post here.

Of course, in higher education, there’s a very good chance we’re looking at a bubble, where prices are being artificially inflated beyond the value of the education itself in an unsustainable manner.  There are many reasons for this, and the government getting into the business is an important one.

——————————————————-

A few related thoughts:

As Peter Thiel noted (and Charles Murray has for a while), there are some interests in our society which will not allow the open discussion of differences between people for reasons ideological which can become political, however plain these differences appear to us, however statistically valid they may be argued to be.  Thiel is a libertarian-minded reformer putting his money where his mouth is regarding the higher ed bubble, and Murray has been the voice of a contrarian social scientist, making unpopular arguments and observations for decades.

I think all of us recognize some good (and likely something essential) in public education, the educational experience, and the equality of opportunity found therein.  I tend to be more tolerant of much less conservative ideas regarding the social contract when it comes to our schools, young people, and the idea that all men are created equal for our democracy.  I also believe (perhaps naively) that we can find a way around the current impasse without necessarily backing ourselves into a European tiered solution, nor simply a return to the “soft-tiering” of prep schools and the Ivy League as a path to a good education, the right connections, and influence.

That said, it as vital as ever to challenge the failures of some interests who define the role of our educational institutions too broadly to be effective, and I think many of these interests aren’t going anywhere.   I think this is where Thiel and Murray are most effective.  Said interests have created:

1. The misplaced loyalty of teachers unions protecting their own and creating a twisted system of incentives that can reward mediocrity and harm students

2. The waste and mismanagement of public resources in public schools, and the politicization of the issue increasingly on the Federal level (all of us have a stake in this) sending good money after bad.  We have ended up with top down, inefficient set of standards and a huge bureaucracy. Much of it can be trimmed.

3. The tragedy and cost that the self-esteem movement will have to those who were never really included and challenged to learn in the first place, either dropping out or graduating without many basic skills, lacking in core compentency, and ill-equipped for the technological revolution and the global competition going on around us.  Civics, reading, writing, and arithmetic wouldn’t be a bad place to start…though most of these basic problems will always be with us.

It’s not clear to me at all that demanding our institutions serve principles of redistributive wealth, fairness, “justice” and the dread “social justice” really do any better with these problems in the long run.  And as for higher ed, it is deeply influenced by “lower” ed.

———————

All of this said, there do seem to be deeper issues at play, which are certainly up for debate as this subject has economic, cultural, political and personal implications for all of us.

Any thoughts and comments are welcome.

Related On This Site: Should you get a college degree?:  Gene Expression On Charles Murray: Does College Really Pay Off?…Charles Murray In The New Criterion: The Age Of Educational Romanticism

The libertarian angle, getting smart, ambitious people off of the degree treadmill:  From The American Interest: Francis Fukuyama Interviews Peter Thiel-’A Conversation With Peter Thiel’ I think it’s going too far, trying to apply libertarian economics onto education, but Milton Friedman on Education is thought-provoking.

A deeper look at what education “ought” to be A Review Of Martha Nussbaum’s ‘Cultivating Humanity: A Classical Defense of Reform in Liberal Education.’

Nothing that Allan Bloom didn’t point out in the Closing Of The American Mind, at least with regard to a true liberal arts education: Update And Repost: ‘A Few Thoughts On Allan Bloom–The Nietzsche / Strauss Connection’

Perhaps some of the problem is due to the ideological interests holing up at our universities; at least in the liberal arts: Repost-Revisting Larry Summers: What Did He Say Again?From The Harvard Educational Review-

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