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College: The $430 Billion a Year Rip-Off

Posted on February 2, 2012

Higher education’s share of the U.S. economy is about $430 billion a year.

When a student can get a B.A. from an accredited college for under $16,000, the following has to be regarded as a rip-off.

Don’t get sucked in.

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By Jonathan Zimmerman

January 31, 2012

In his State of the Union address last Tuesday, President Obama proposed several measures to lower college tuition. University leaders responded cautiously, warning that cost-cutting reforms might also cut into instructional quality.But here’s the big open secret in American higher education: Most institutions have no meaningful way to measure the quality of their instruction. And the president didn’t ask us to develop one, either.Instead, he suggested that the federal government tie student aid to colleges’ success in reducing tuition and in helping students move forward. In a follow-up speech at the University of Michigan on Friday, he called for a “college score card” that would rank institutions acording to cost, graduation rates and future earnings.

“If you can’t stop tuition from going up, your funding from taxpayers will go down,” Obama warned. “We should push colleges to do better; we should hold them accountable if they don’t.”

Fair enough. But look again at Obama’s criteria for “better”: holding down costs, graduating students and helping them get jobs. There’s no mention of whether the students are actually learning anything.

At most institutions, including my own, we have no idea if they are. Sure, professors assign grades in their courses, and students are asked to evaluate the classes they take and the professors who teach them. But neither measure gives us any real answer to the $200,000 question: What knowledge or skills are students acquiring in exchange for the skyrocketing tuition they pay?

And we now have some alarming national data to suggest the answer: not nearly enough. My New York University colleague Richard Arum and the University of Virginia’s Josipa Roksa recently tracked several thousand. . . .

Continue Reading on www.latimes.com

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8 thoughts on “College: The $430 Billion a Year Rip-Off

  1. This is a stunning development! Accountability for the intelligencia elite at colleges and universities, what a concept; quantifiable and qualifiable……..let's see how far the rhetoric travels!

  2. Many college degrees are a waste in regards to obtaining a job and making $$$.

    Degrees that are job related appear worthwhile, but not guaranteed to secure employment. Many engineering and computer graduates may have to compete with oursourcing to India.

  3. A college degree doesn't guarantee a job. Small business is touted as the mainstay of the economy. The largest majority of these small businesses are "family owned", and will advertise jobs that will undoubtedly be filled by unqualified family members. Now– If you are college graduate with multiple qualifications, try competing with that. You can't and it's a waste of time to even try. Many companies already know who will get the job, before the job listing is ever placed. The listing is done only for CYA purposes. Analogy– College degrees are great. Just don't think of it as job assurance.

  4. Maybe politicians should practice what they preach . . . where is the accountability with the government? Maybe they should set the example ! ! !

  5. LarryFrom10EC says:

    Let me see if I've got this right- colleges and Universities will lose money if students don't graduate, with no penalty if the students aren't actually learning anything?. Well, gee, that won't give them incentive to lower the grade curve will it? Thanks to liberal meddling with the secondary education system, we are now graduating high school students who can't read or do simple arithmetic. Now, thanks to a President who is all style and no substance, we will graduate college students who can't read or do simple arithmetic.

  6. You can thank your Dept. of Education for this…

  7. John Stewart says:

    You don't suppose teachers unions and inflation have anything to do with the ripoff, do you?
    The last time the dollar was worth anything was the mid 60's.

  8. edcrandall says:

    Why doesn't Obama let us know how well his "ivy league" education did him by releasing his records and how much it cost him ( 0r his foreign scholarships)? Accoutabilty is not a "oneway" street>