What College Prices and Subsidized Mobile Phones Have in Common

It seems everyone has a smart phone these days, and for most of us, those devices were pretty inexpensive if we were willing to sign a two-year service contract. It’s likely that if you have an iPhone, for instance, that your wireless carrier subsidized hundreds of dollars toward the cost of that phone.

But as the Wall Street Journal reported this week, U.S. wireless carriers are making fast progress on weaning consumers from such generous offers, making them pay the full cost of the phone, usually in installment plans.

Continue Reading

Do Parents Spend More on College for their Sons or Daughters?

Last June, after a talk at theSummer Seminar in Minneapolis about how colleges need to increasingly prove the value of their brand of education to cash-strapped parents, an admissions director from a pricey Midwest private college approached me.

He said that in recent years at his institution it appears that parents are more willing to pay higher tuition prices for their daughters, but not for their sons. As the father of two daughters his observation intrigued me.

Continue Reading

State of Higher Education: The Unbound Future of America’s Colleges

As demand surges for a college degree around the world, the higher-education enterprise has never been stronger. But the state of the industry that serves the enterprise is broken, particularly in the United States.

For most of the 20th century, the U.S. bragged that it had the best colleges and universities in the world— and rightfully so. Not anymore.

Continue Reading

Building a Practical College Degree for the New Economy

This is not a great time to be a recent college graduate.

Average student-loan debt is $29,400. The underemployment rate is 44 percent for graduates ages 22 to 27, meaning they are holding jobs that don’t require bachelor’s degrees. And theaverage age of financial independence for college graduate these days is 30.

Continue Reading

Why a Rejection Letter From Harvard or Other Top Colleges Can Be Surprisingly Helpful

College acceptances have started to roll in for high-school seniors, and for the next several months, much of the focus of the national media will be on those students vying to get into the three dozen or so most selective colleges and universities in the country.

By May, we’ll hear campuses, such as Stanford, Harvard, and Princeton, bragging about how they accepted on 1 out of every 10 applicants this year, and set another record for applications and the number of students they rejected, including hundreds of high-school valedictorians.

Continue Reading

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 college degree really tell employers about how much an applicant knows, about how much they learned to earn that credential?

Continue Reading

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 […]