Higher Education’s Olive Garden Problem

Tuition resets—essentially, slashing the sticker price of tuition to the discounted price most students pay anyway—have become a popular public-relations stunt recently for a few colleges that are trying to reframe the conversation about the rising cost of higher ed and, most important, to help them fill their classroom seats and dorms.

While tuition resets might give those struggling institutions a one-year bump in enrollment, there is only so much they and hundreds of other high-priced, middle…


Base Degrees on What We Know, Not How Long We Spent in a Classroom

If you examine job ads these days you’ll probably notice one common trait among them: they all ask for a college degree. That piece of paper—whether it’s an associate’s, bachelor’s, or master’s degree—remains the prime signal to an employer that the applicant is at least minimally qualified to fill the position. But what does a [...]


MOOCs Move Beyond the Perfect Media Narrative

The media love a good story, a narrative with characters, tension, and conflict. Higher ed rarely provides such narratives, unless they involve students overcoming the odds, or protests over tuition and student debt.

For the past two years, the subject of Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs, has delivered a compelling narrative about the future of higher ed, at a time when many colleges were struggling to maintain enrollments and stabilize their finances.

MOOCs reimagined the online course fro…


What the Open-Data Movement Means for the Future of Colleges

During the partial shutdown of the federal government, which ended Wednesday night after 16 days, it was the barricades closing national parks and monuments that received a disproportionate share of media attention related to the budget standoff.

Few seemed to care that useful online databases of statistics about higher education, such as the College Navigator and the College Scorecard, went dark (except a handful of reporters and perhaps those who didn’t want to take time off from the college…


An Elite Education, for Just $10,000 a Year

When President Obama talks about expanding access to higher education, Ben Nelson thinks that should include access to a high-quality education. Nelson founded the Minerva Project, which aims to provide an Ivy League education at a fraction of the cost. His vision and his résumé (the thirty-something University of Pennsylvania graduate once headed Snapfish, the [...]


President Sees an Obamacare Solution to Higher Ed’s Problems

Higher ed, welcome to Obamacare.

Frustrated by how his policies of the past four years haven’t stalled rising college-tuition prices or moved the needle on the number of students, particularly low-income students, graduating from college, President Obama took on the higher-ed establishment on Thursday, declaring bluntly that the federal government cannot just keep chasing college prices with federal aid but not getting better results.

It’s the same problem Obama confronted with health care in …


What I Learned From Taking a Train Ride With a Bunch of Millennials

Last week, I had the opportunity to join two dozen twenty-something entrepreneurs who were part of a 10-day transcontinental train trip to discover the United States and themselves.


The Whistle-Stop Education

traInsMost American college students haven’t completed a cross-country road trip, let alone a transcontinental train trek. Such journeys give us not only a greater appreciation for the vast nation we tend to fly over, but also the time to reflect on what we see and experience away from the frenzy of daily life.

Last week, two dozen young entrepreneurs did just that, crossing the United States on a train for 10 days, to discover the country and themselves. Aboard the Millennial Trains Project, each of …


The Lesson of Commoditization: From The Washington Post to Higher Education

The story of the newspaper industry over the past decade offers lessons to other industries with products that no longer are the exclusive domain of a few players who control what they sell to the customer.


Fly the Friendly Skies of United Universities

Colleges have often been compared to airlines in how they price their product because of the discounts higher-education institutions offer on tuition through merit aid. Passengers on an airplane and students in a classroom pay vastly different prices for the same journey, and most people don’t talk about what they paid with their seatmates or classmates.

It’s not a joy to fly these days, so colleges probably don’t want to take too many cues from the airline industry. But one strategy the air…