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…

Rethinking the Bachelor’s Degree to Bolster the Humanities

The classic liberal-arts major on college campuses has been in a state of crisis for several decades now.

The number of bachelor’s degrees awarded in traditional arts-and-sciences fields (English, mathematics, biology) peaked in the late 1960s, when about half of all degrees awarded were in those disciplines. Today, such majors account for about a quarter of degrees, as students have fled to practical degrees in vocational fields, such as business and communications or, more recently, sports man…

Graduation Rates: Flawed as a Measure of Colleges, but Still Useful

It’s commencement season on college campuses, the time when graduating students see their years of effort culminate in a victory: getting the degree. That road to commencement was longer for some students than for others, though, and eventually those varying journeys will be reflected in the institution’s graduation rate.

The value of that number has been debated almost from the day it was first calculated in the mid-1990s. The flaws of the official government rate are well known: It counts only…

Colleges Face a Reality Check From Powerful New Tools in Applicants’ Hands

Twice in the last week and a half I have been seated next to a recent college dropout on an airplane flight.

One left Ohio University after a semester last fall, and the other dropped out of a performing-arts college in Los Angeles after two years. Both had accumulated debt. One of the former students was about to start work on a cruise ship, and the other hoped to perform on a cruise ship. Both had the same goal: to earn enough money to go back to college eventually.

Neither of the students qui…

Let’s Improve the Job Prospects of This Year’s College Grads

College commencement season is upon us, and in just a few weeks, the Class of 2013 will begin their post-college life. Those entering the job market seem to be hedging their bets: 1 in 3 soon-to-be graduates report applying for more than 40 jobs, according to one survey. For them, the news continues to be […]

What Is College?

My 3 1/2 year-old daughter recently saw me wearing a sweatshirt from my undergraduate alma mater (Ithaca College) and asked me what it spelled. When I told her, she replied: What is college? A profound question from a 3 1/2 year-old and one being asked by college leaders and students alike these days as tuition […]