Alan Jacobs, writing for The American Conservative, takes a look at the escalating costs of higher education, quoting from Jeffrey Selingo's new book College (Un)Bound: The Future of Higher Education and What it Means for Students.
Jacobs writes of colleges competing for students by offering greater and greater amenities, at the expense of education:
A major part of the problem is that colleges and universities have invested more strenuously in amenities than in education, with the assumption that students absorbed in the delights of their dining halls and climbing walls won’t notice that their teachers are largely underpaid adjuncts who have to jump from course to course and college to college to try to get something close to minimum-wage levels of pay. (Consider this: “About 70 percent of the instructional faculty at all colleges is off the tenure track, whether as part-timers or full-timers, a proportion that has crept higher over the past decade.”)
In an interview with NPR, Jeffrey Selingo discusses one of the effects of the prohibitive cost of higher education:
One of the most disturbing numbers I came across in research for this book was that if you come from a family with a family income above $90,000, you have a 1 in 2 chance of getting a bachelor's degree by the time you're in your mid-20s. If you come from a family under $35,000, you have a 1 in 17 chance.
One of the fears, and one of my fears, is that we might become a country where the next generation is less educated than the generation that preceded it.
Selingo notes that the schools most trapped in an economic bind are small, private, liberal arts colleges, facing declining enrollments. A Chronicle of Higher Education article showed that despite increased discounting, such schools continue to lose students.
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