Comments on: The rhetoric of tuition inflation A slice of lime in the soda Sun, 26 Oct 2014 19:05:02 +0000 hourly 1 By: LizGoodwin Fri, 19 Nov 2010 18:47:46 +0000 Feldman and Archibald break up their affordability measurements by income percentile in their working paper, which makes the whole thing more interesting.  /20101117/us_yblog_thelookout/economist s-what-college-cost-crisis

By: TFF Wed, 17 Nov 2010 18:38:21 +0000 Curmudgeon, we might end up there EVENTUALLY, but I don’t think that is feasible in the immediate future.

At its heart, learning is necessarily interactive and personal. As long as the traditional setting offers greater interaction and more personalized attention than online courses, it will hold its primacy. That may (should?) change some day, but we aren’t there yet. Perhaps my next career step will be helping to make that happen.

The ultimate goal is to create “self-directed learners” who seek and apply knowledge to address problems at hand. Almost none of my understanding of economics or investing comes from traditional coursework. Nor does most of my knowledge of history, statistics, physics, gardening, or a dozen other topics. Nevertheless, all of the above rests on a foundation of skills that was built in high school and college. I would not be where I am today without that foundation.

Finally, don’t dismiss “status signaling” too lightly. When I was younger, my degrees signaled to employers a high mathematical aptitude and a strong work ethic. Because of that I have never lacked for job offers.

If you had a daughter with exceptional academic performance in science and dreams of becoming a doctor, would you counsel her to attend the local community college? Online courses? A third-tier state university where half the student body is enrolled in remedial courses? Or would you shoot for Stanford? Which would offer her the best chance of acceptance into medical school?

For that reason, the traditional system will remain with us for a while longer.

By: Curmudgeon Wed, 17 Nov 2010 17:03:29 +0000 TFF, I think online education is going to quickly expand to become much more interactive and personal, potentially rivalling in-person education. Think Second Life. You go to college virtually, your avatar interacting with others on an ongoing virtual world that includes classes, sporting events, and socialization. I think current trends in society support this; it may be much more important for our youth today to be able to interact online than it is in person.

Far-fetched? Possibly, but I wouldn’t bet against it. It rather reminds me of some of social implications described by Asimov decades ago in his Robot novels.

By: BarryKelly Wed, 17 Nov 2010 16:22:13 +0000 Third-level degrees are increasingly about status signalling, as information technology democratizes the learning aspect, making it abundant. The prices will rise until the degrees are scarce again.

By: TFF Wed, 17 Nov 2010 15:49:21 +0000 Curmudgeon, that isn’t going to take hold until students graduate high school with decent skills. Once a student has a solid foundation, he can self-study or profit from online courses.

Ultimately I see online education as a supplement to traditional education rather than a replacement. The traditional system is still appropriate for at least a quarter of our students, including anybody seeking advanced degrees. I do agree that attempting to shoehorn another 25% of the population into the traditional system (as we have been doing) is perhaps a poor approach.

By: Curmudgeon Wed, 17 Nov 2010 14:13:51 +0000 Yesterday I heard Clayton Christensen (The Innovator’s Dilemma) give a keynote talk at the Supercomputing conference, and he said that online education is now applying the same low-end pressures to traditional higher education that other industries have seen in the past several decades. While he didn’t come right out and say it, it was clear that he at least strongly considers the possibility that the online disruption means the beginning of the end of traditional higher education.

By: TFF Wed, 17 Nov 2010 03:34:56 +0000 OnTheTimes, did you ask them what they studied? And how hard they pursued those studies? And where?

*Quality* education is still valuable, but there is a lot of dross out there.

Your points about the economic imbalance are well taken, however.

By: OnTheTimes Tue, 16 Nov 2010 22:44:41 +0000 TFF, you might not want to tell the college grads with $100K student loans that are working at Starbucks or waiting tables about how their education is worth its weight in gold. I’m sure a lot of them are wondering why they took on so much debt to get a job that didn’t require that “quality education”.

I agree, in general, that the nation needs to spend more on education, but given the current business management mindset, I’m not convinced it would matter that much to today’s economy. If we had more engineers and scientists they would either be lower paid or not working in their chosen fields, as the businesses that are hoarding cash refuse to invest more in R&D. American tech companies complain about the shortage of engineers, but that is mainly because they have to pay more than their foreign competition, and I don’t get the feeling they would create more products if engineers were paid less – they would pocket the profits and execs would get bigger bonuses.

By: Nick_Gogerty Tue, 16 Nov 2010 22:05:04 +0000 College education has become a social positioning good and as such is bid up to consume all available resource. in an economy based more on credentialling than meritocracy, the positional nature of a “good” degree as recognized by peers becomes very important.

In recessions and periods of heightened economic stress socially ascribed or structurally ascribed status (via) university credentials becomes ever more important as a way of establishing social status. Universities are more positional good than “normal” competitive good and as such will rise to consume all available resource available.

What parent won’t spend almost all they have to give their children, the “best” head start?

Positional goods eventually crash as they are bubbly by nature, not being tied to a competitive pressure. Housing became a positional good with cheap money as did education.

By: ErnieD Tue, 16 Nov 2010 20:50:23 +0000 Going to campuses periodically since the 1970s when I went to college has been enlightening. Many of the private colleges appear to be filling up much of their open space with new buildings but the student enrollment doesn’t appear to be going up much at those colleges. Buildings cost money to fund-raise, build and maintain.

Also, dorms have moved away from buildings that they could simply firehose each summer to clean out the innards to edifices that would do many hotel chains proud.

College education is one of the great equalizers of the middle class. If you make less than $100k, grants and low-cost loans are available for most of the cost. If you make $100k – $200k, kiss your disposable income good-bye as long as you have kids in college if you want them to go to a private college since they offer little or no financial aid and the tuition tax breaks disappear.

Our first child went to a private college. We learned our lesson when they cut off all financial aid at the beginning of senior year when you were effectively trapped.

Our second went to community college. Our third is going to school in Canada (dual-citizen at resident tuition rate) where she may end up staying to work afterwards. No. 4 is probably going to a ommunity college for the first two years.