The Education Bubble…Is She About to Go Pop?

At first glance, the cracks seem to be forming.

In the fall of 2012, published tuition and fees for in-state students at four-year U.S. public schools rose just 2.9 percent from a year earlier, the smallest increase in 33 years, the College Board reported. At private schools, published prices rose 3.8 percent, lower than the increases in recent years.

At the same time, the number of students enrolled in colleges and universities fell by nearly half a million after two decades of substantial growth, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Moody’s rating service has warned that enrollment declines threaten the finances of many colleges.

The academic world is in for quite the shakeup. The issue is not IF, it is WHEN.

If this latest report is any indicator, that shakeup is going to come down sooner rather than later.

5 thoughts on “The Education Bubble…Is She About to Go Pop?

    • oh, not just HS guidance counselors – the whole system from kinder on. every thing that is taught has to be proven to prepare kids for college from kindergarten on.

      and then there are the private pre-schools that have curriculum to prepare kids for college.

      and then there are the parents who are constantly comparing their kids to make sure their kid knows more and achieves more than their peers – from birth on.

    • Yep. That is why “Common Core” is all the rage. While we would probably agree that this is nothing more than the new government initiative to complete the hijacking of education, it is being marketed in terms of ensuring the “college readiness” of high-school grads.

      The way it is being sold: many students enter college unprepared for college-level classes and therefore often spend much of their first year taking remedial classes in math, writing, sciences, even study skills.

      The “solution” to that is Common Core: it is supposed to be an initiative to ensure that high-school grads–EVEN THOSE WHO AREN’T INCLINED TO GO TO COLLEGE!!–are “college-ready”. They are priming students to pursue college, telling them that unless they get a college degree they will be destined for a life of poverty and destitution whereas if they are college-ready they will be able to pursue the good life by completing their studies in fewer years so they can enter the workforce without having to take 6 years of undergrad studies.

      In addition to “Common Core”, states are using federal monies for “Gear Up” initiatives that aim to get students primed to go to college. It’s all college, college, college…

      (Even those who opt to go to a 2-year school to learn a trade are being marketed to pursue the 4-year degree.)

      To hear the educrats at the state level tell the story, they merely care that students are preparing for a life of upward economic mobility.

      And while I can’t say that I doubt the sincerity of the state-level educrats–I would say that they are not particularly forward-thinking, and are in fact tied down by groupthink–I can’t help but wonder how much of this push is merely a balls-out initiative, driven by federal officials who know the real macroeconomic picture, to keep the tuition money flowing to keep the higher-ed bubble from collapsing.

      I realize you went to college before I did, although your case was different because you were a West Pointer. Still, we attended college in an era when almost ANY 4-year degree was a positive economic tradeoff. Student loans were out there, but there were more controls on them, and there were more limits on how much you could borrow. Tuition could get expensive, but–even if you needed loans–they could be paid off in a reasonable amount of time. And if you went to a state university, you could finance most of it by working during the summers.

      Today, 6 figures of student loan debt is not uncommon, and the job prospects are worse and not better.

      My guess is that high school grads–and their parents–are starting to pick up on the game.

  1. I find it amazing at all colleges teach a four year curriculum. A degree in Art and Theater takes exactly the same number of courses as one in Nuclear physics. AMAZING!!! It’s as if what you are learning isn’t important at all. But at least the graduate with the nuke degree will be a physicist. The person with the theater degree won’t likely be an actor and the person with the art degree won’t be an artist.

    Another amazing fun fact: You cannot “test out” a college degree by private study and demonstrating you have mastered the material. You have to spend the time and pay the fees.

    • Yeah…I always thought that was ridiculous. There are businessmen without degrees who could run circles around many PhD grads. But their life credit wouldn’t qualify for a B.S.

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