Lion of the Blogosphere

The Obama plan to reduce college costs

New York Times article:

A draft of the proposal, obtained by The New York Times and likely to cause some consternation among colleges, shows a plan to rate colleges before the 2015 school year based on measures like tuition, graduation rates, debt and earnings of graduates, and the percentage of lower-income students who attend. The ratings would compare colleges against their peer institutions. If the plan can win Congressional approval, the idea is to base federal financial aid to students attending the colleges partly on those rankings.

. . .
Almost all of the federal government’s $150 billion in annual student aid is distributed based on the number of students a college enrolls, regardless of how many graduate or how much debt they incur. Under the new proposal, students could still attend whatever college they chose, public or private, but taxpayer support would shift to higher-ranked schools.

This sounds like a good idea. Colleges shouldn’t be allowed to collect federal money while overcharging students and graduating people who can’t find jobs with good wages.

Also, I’ve previously stated many times that law schools need to provide audited reports of how well their graduates do in the job market, and it’s just as good idea to apply that to all degrees. People are entitled to know what they are getting into when they spend such a large amount of money on a degree. Colleges should be required to provide this information to prospective students for the same reason that public corporations are required to provide audited financial information to investors.

I predict that Republicans will oppose Obama out of sheer obstructionism.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

August 22, 2013 at 10:47 AM

Posted in Education

64 Responses

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  1. This will be significant if Obama actually makes headway here. It would most importantly affect marginal institutions that take on students many of which probably shouldn’t be going to college.

    So I think the situation is ultimately going to be more complicated than it appears. Which schools will be the hardest hit? Well, I think a lot of Obama supporters think it’s going to be fly-by-night and cut-rate for-profit institutions. But it would also be urban commuter schools, community colleges (or maybe not this one since they’re so cheap to begin with), and most interestingly, HBCU’s. Not Howard and the well-regarded ones, but Southern University, Florida A&M, Texas Southern, and so on. Does Obama have the guts to look at these schools and say that they are not worth funding?

    trumwill

    August 22, 2013 at 11:00 AM

    • Yes, the HBCU’s will not fare well in any unbiased assessment of quality and worth.

      I wonder how long before all the descendants of Mexican border jumper immigrants start demanding educational set-aside universities paid for by the feds? I guess we will call them HHCU’s.

      Camlost

      August 22, 2013 at 12:13 PM

    • Not only will the HBCU’s suffer the the open admission urban university (think Chicago St, Cleveland St, several of the cal cal state universities will quickly be put out of business. If universities really start focusing on money ball-like statistics such as who is the most likely to graduate, who is the most likely to earn above average money, then blacks and Hispanics will probably be the biggest losers. If universities are honest, they will find it is easier for middle class white males who are currently ignored by universities to graduate and earn rather than minority males.

      superdestroyer

      August 22, 2013 at 5:54 PM

      • // the open admission urban university//

        That was what I meant by “urban commuter schools” though your definition may be more apt. Some urban commuter schools aren’t bad and will do fine. It’s those with the more lax admissions policies that will suffer.

        // middle class white males who are currently ignored by universities to graduate and earn//

        Wait, what? No, no. Once a university meets its quota of minorities, they quite like white middle class males. On the gender front, with the exception of some land grant and engineering schools, if schools got many more female students it would cause more problems than not (Title IX, for example). On the race front, they may want diversity but they don’t want to be dominated by minority students because schools that are dominated by minority students are looked down upon. They want kids that are likely to earn, which white kids are more likely to do. They want kids that will donate back to the university, which white kids are more likely to do than Asian kids (for instance). They want kids that will join campus festivities rather than come to school and go home, which is disproportionately going to be white kids.

        You know all those schools that are doing everything they can to be a more traditional school with a robust campus life? Athletics programs, lavish dorms, etc. Who do you think they are seeking to attract? It’s not minorities. It’s certainly not poor kids of any color. It’s a desire to be less like Cleveland State and more like the University of Cincinnati, and then less like the University of Cincinnati and more like Ohio State University. That involves a lot of white, middle class kids.

        trumwill

        August 22, 2013 at 8:17 PM

      • Wait, what? No, no. Once a university meets its quota of minorities, they quite like white middle class males. On the gender front, with the exception of some land grant and engineering schools, if schools got many more female students it would cause more problems than not (Title IX, for example). On the race front, they may want diversity but they don’t want to be dominated by minority students because schools that are dominated by minority students are looked down upon. They want kids that are likely to earn, which white kids are more likely to do. They want kids that will donate back to the university, which white kids are more likely to do than Asian kids (for instance). They want kids that will join campus festivities rather than come to school and go home, which is disproportionately going to be white kids.

        Precisely, token diversity is needed to satisfy SWPL sensibilities, and you are indeed correctly, the minority presence at an undergraduate institution is inversely correlated with its prestige.

        Latias

        August 22, 2013 at 10:22 PM

      • @Latias:

        “Precisely, token diversity is needed to satisfy SWPL sensibilities, and you are indeed correctly, the minority presence at an undergraduate institution is inversely correlated with its prestige.”

        Completely wrong. Lets take the best known Northeast public school/land grant college that happens to be the darling of ‘middle class’ recruiting and WSJ surveys. Penn State University.

        PSU-University Park is 75% white at the UG level.

        That is far and above UPenn. Penn is infinitely more prestigious.

        Swarthmore (top three LAC) is majority-minority.

        Dartmouth is probably the whitest Ivy, and is no where near that 75% mark.

        UMass Amherst is like 65-70% white. Amherst college (the private LAC that’s usually ranked just behind Williams in LAC rankings) is close to majority-minority.

        The Ivies are way more diverse than your average Big10/Big East/ACC land-grant / publics.

        uatu

        August 23, 2013 at 3:52 AM

      • Hitcoffee,

        Look at schools like Georgia State, Memphis, FIU, UAB, Houston, UT-Arlington,Middle Tennessee State. Those universities are majority female, heavily minority, and will all suffer some bad effects from President Obama’s proposals. They cannot compete against the state flagship universities, they are commuter schools that have always had problems graduating students, and now the Department of Education will punish them for the demographics of their students.

        Those universities face the choice of massively scaling back their operations to ensure a decent graduation rate and dropping majors that do not produce good salaries or being put out of business.

        In the long run, the educational opportunities for the middle class and blue collar families will slowly decrease because many universities will either close or or massively shrink in size. A university of Memphis or UNC-Charlotte that need to produce good numbers will have to shrink, become more white and Asian, drop lots of low value degree plans. One of the unforeseen impacts of the program will be to decrease the number of academic jobs for graduates of Tier I universities. Where will be fewer tenured tracked jobs for graduates of the Ivy League.

        superdestroyer

        August 23, 2013 at 5:14 AM

      • SuperD, the schools you mention actually vary pretty wildly. Florida International and Houston at one end and Memphis and Middle Tennessee at the other.

        Anyway, that you point to minority-dominated and female-dominated schools as lacking prestige only reinforces my comment that schools are not actually all that anxious to recruit those students beyond a certain point.

        trumwill

        August 23, 2013 at 11:42 AM

      • @uatu

        I did not want to use the abbreviation “NAM” but just replace “minority” with NAM. A high Asian presence does not lower a school’s prestige much compared to NAMs, as is the case of UC Berkeley.

        Latias

        August 23, 2013 at 12:08 PM

      • Latias

        August 23, 2013 at 12:40 PM

      • Middle and lower class White males populate the prole colleges and universities that are either public or low tier. Asians are a small minority in these schools with the exception of the Northeast. The overall consensus is that White males in these institutions are disdained more than poverty stricken – underachieving Blacks and Hispanics.

        UC schools are a class by themselves because they are more prestigious and are overpopulated by Asians, where middle class Whites are underrepresented.

        Ivy League and Tier 1 schools have a de facto upper middle class to wealthy White population, and Asians are also overrepresented, similar to that of the UC system.

        JS

        August 23, 2013 at 2:23 PM

      • @JS

        I am sticking to my contention that NAM presence is inversely correlated with a school’s prestige. Diversity (including Asians) may have some value if it goes above the threshold token AA presence. I believe the correlation is real, and it most likely does not cause the perception of an undergraduate institution’s prestige, Perhaps, those schools with a higher NAM presence than flagship state universities were not initially prestigious; the more prestigious universities have preferential admissions (even if it is not overt AA) for minorities and the best NAMs gravitate towards those institutions. The remaining NAMs who have some competency for college work (the word “some” denotes that they may have to undergo remediation before they are able to proceed with real college-level work) would be disproportionately admitted to lower tier universities with low SAT and high school GPA thresholds. That alone would lower the prestige of a university (since those are easily quantifiable metrics and indicative of a school’s selectivity), not to mention that students with lower SAT scores have less academic competence on average (but one can argue that SAT scores and GPA are inversely correlated at a given institution, so they would have little predictive power if considered in isolation in a given context) and would also negatively impact the school’s graduation rates. Thus, a high NAM presences seems to indicate a lack of prestige, at least relative to state flagships.

        I do not know the relative merits for a given school to admit Asians over whites; indeed, those ethnicities do not give a school additional “diversity points”, but it would seem correct that prole whites have little to contribute to a school’s prestige or endowment. Again, some whites are more equal than others. (I used it once already, so I do not want to say this again,)

        Latias

        August 23, 2013 at 3:00 PM

      • “I do not know the relative merits for a given school to admit Asians over whites; indeed, those ethnicities do not give a school additional “diversity points”, but it would seem correct that prole whites have little to contribute to a school’s prestige or endowment”.

        Prole Whites are actually more enterprising and productive than the parasitic SWPLs, whose status comes from value transference instead of value creation. But because SWPLs are in charge, they set the tone as to who is high status or not. Asians are ranked higher than proles, but they are nowhere on the same level with SWPLs. Low income non-Asian minorities are disliked by SWPLs (secretly that is), yet they have a stronger disdain towards their own who are less privileged. This transcends all races, as successful Blacks and Asians generally demonstrate a form of self hate by denigrating their own and siding with high status
        Whites.

        JS

        August 23, 2013 at 5:34 PM

    • This will be significant if Obama actually makes headway here.

      He doesn’t have to. Most of these reforms can be passed at the state level. For example, state legislators can mandate public unis accept online classes and competency testing for credit.

      Which schools will be the hardest hit?

      Private colleges that posture as elite schools to grossly overcharge students but which don’t have the elite cache to ensure a BIG firm job in NY. Pretty much any liberal arts college below the top ~15 schools. Think Skidmore, Wesleyan, maybe Tufts, and others. These non-elite or bordering on elite lib arts schools are super liberal. It would be joyful watching so many leftists and useless departments be ruined by online instruction.

      Please contact your local state legislators (if you live in a Republican state) and ask them to require public colleges to give credit for online classes.

      Engineering schools, even non-elite ones, may survive with on-campus instruction because their research is broadly useful and they can likely get state and private sector funding to get going.

      The Undiscovered Jew

      August 22, 2013 at 6:05 PM

      • What’s more of a travesty is that now non-profit jobs in NYC (charity organizations with a prestige name to them), are only hiring candidates from prestigious schools. Anyone who graduated from Bumblef*ck State and wants to work as an office admin for the American Red Cross. Good Luck!

        Lion once mentioned that it’s important to work for a well known company/organization even if it doesn’t pay well. The hiring company would be more impressed with you if you worked for another company of status.

        JS

        August 22, 2013 at 7:00 PM

  2. anon

    August 22, 2013 at 11:02 AM

  3. Let’s propose further regulation to control the deleterious effects of previous regulation (student loan subsidization).

    If I only beat my wife more, she will eventually love me. That’s how it works, right?

    Lowe

    August 22, 2013 at 11:46 AM

    • The government funding isn’t going to go away, but yes, we can definitely improve things a LOT by changing who gets the funding. Because colleges respond to incentives. This is no different than jiggering the tax code to change incentives.

      Lion of the Blogosphere

      August 22, 2013 at 12:07 PM

      • You’re assuming that colleges that score well on these new metrics would react by increasing the size of their student bodies. Maybe they would be afraid that expansion would cause them to lose their competitive edge and instead act like elite schools and respond to increasing demand by simply increasing tuition.

        reynald

        August 22, 2013 at 1:22 PM

      • If colleges are incentivized to lower costs, put students into majors where they will earn more money, not accept student who won’t be able to find jobs after they graduate, they will do all of that.

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        August 22, 2013 at 2:18 PM

      • I question whether people will accept fewer students going to college and i question whether colleges that currently offer good bang for the buck won’t just increase tuition to the point where they no longer offer any kind of deal. Expanding while maintaining standards is very difficult although a big part of the reason colleges don’t like to do it is because it will dilute their brand power which is not nearly as much of an issue with lower tier colleges.

        reynald

        August 22, 2013 at 4:08 PM

      • Anything that forces them to reduce expenditures is great for America because they can’t cut costs without laying off leftist faculty.

        The Undiscovered Jew

        August 22, 2013 at 6:08 PM

      • Anything that forces them to reduce expenditures is great for America because they can’t cut costs without laying off leftist faculty.

        Well, they could lay off a ton of administrators – I am sure that is where the greatest personnel growth has occurred – or they could replace Leftist tenured faculty with Leftist adjuncts, but either one of those is fine with me.

        Tarl

        August 23, 2013 at 12:27 PM

  4. An even better idea would be for the feds to get out of the student aid business all together. That way a lot of kids (either too dumb or too smart) who shouldn’t go to college won’t. And without all the largess, the market will force colleges to produce more useful degrees and eliminate useless ones.

    fakeemail

    August 22, 2013 at 12:01 PM

    • There’s no political will at all to end all government funding of higher education, because everyone “knows” that college is the most important thing in the world.

      The best we can hope for is to improve things, and the Obama plan is quite similar to many suggestions made by conservative commenters on this blog all the time. We should fund programs in which people get rewarded in the job market, which means funding practical majors like STEM and nursing, and not funding women’s studies and other useless majors.

      Lion of the Blogosphere

      August 22, 2013 at 12:09 PM

      • the Obama plan is quite similar to many suggestions made by conservative commenters on this blog all the time.

        Not to mention wiping out hundreds of thousands of jobs held by leftist academics.

        How does Bryan ‘Chapulas’ Caplan feel his job being threatened by online lecture? He should enjoy the competition from this new form of free labor, Non?

        The Undiscovered Jew

        August 22, 2013 at 5:57 PM

      • Lion is correct. Student aid is untouchable because it’s middle class welfare. If we’re going to have state subsidization of education we might as well have them tweak the aid incentive structure to destroy as many liberal academic jobs as possible. Worry about free market education reforms after the Cathedral has been crippled.

        The Undiscovered Jew

        August 22, 2013 at 6:09 PM

    • You’re saying we should just cross our fingers and hope everything works out? Why would you expect the market to reach an optimum outcome without the government when the government will end up receiving a large portion of a college graduates increased income and consumption?

      reynald

      August 22, 2013 at 1:18 PM

  5. They overcharge because many private colleges and a growing number of public colleges have become state of the art institutions. They need the funds to maintain and upgrade equipment in the student centers, dorms and sports facilities. Most importantly, they need the money to secure the best professors they can find. Why would students attend a school that DOESN’T have these resources?

    JS

    August 22, 2013 at 12:17 PM

    • Because it costs a lot of money (which they have to pay eventually) and doesn’t improve your education or income potential….Ohhh….you were being satirical right?

      XVO

      August 22, 2013 at 1:50 PM

      • No, but it’s the same reason as to why many young Americans want to own Apple gadgets and consumer beyond their means. Better yet, it’s the same reason as to why they want to move to the big cities, thinking it’s cool to pay an arm and leg on rent, while taking a job that prevents personal savings of any sort.

        College is fun; it’s a form of hedonism that comes with empty promises for the future.

        JS

        August 22, 2013 at 4:16 PM

  6. This does not seem to address the root of the problem which is that a rapid expanding amount of money is chasing a very slowly growing amount of educational prestige and elite connections.

    Why not just make it illegal to hire based on connections or the school someone attended and force firms to hire from the largest pool of people they can based on evaluations of a person’s actual ability?

    reynald

    August 22, 2013 at 1:33 PM

    • This does not seem to address the root of the problem which is that a rapid expanding amount of money is chasing a very slowly growing amount of educational prestige and elite connections.

      Well, that essentially is what modern education is — an attempt to garner credentials to appear to be a good worker.

      Why not just make it illegal to hire based on connections or the school someone attended and force firms to hire from the largest pool of people they can based on evaluations of a person’s actual ability?

      The answer is simple, if you are looking for an actual answer, as opposed to asking a rhetorical question. The system works: it is successful, not based on its concern over the outcomes of the emotional, spiritual, or intellectual welfare or development of students, but because it, through economic signaling, allocates human capital to the public and private sector efficiently enough. As an added bonus, this system is politically correct enough to quell the conscience of some SWPLs.

      Latias

      August 22, 2013 at 4:50 PM

      • The system works

        It works for a certain class of people who wield a hugely disproportionate amount of influence and that have created a system that rewards the skills they have while projecting the outward trappings of meritocracy. A lot of college admissions centers around mastering an intentionally arcane set of expectations and mores. What percentage of kids growing up are ever told by their parents that they should do someone because of how it will look on their college application? What percentage of those parents even know what does and doesn’t?

        And while it’s perfectly reasonable to allocate college slots based on someone’s performance during their teenage years the fact is that only a small minority of people have the resources and cultural inclination to intensively manage their children and maximize their performance during their teenage years. A lot of parents just have too much faith in this country and assume their children will grow up to be judged on their actual abilities and that it’s OK to waste one’s teenage years as long as they get their act together later.

        The whole system at best predicts someone academic performance between the ages 18-22 based on their accomplishments from 15-17. A rational system would predict someone’s performance in the actual job they are applying for at their current age.

        reynald

        August 24, 2013 at 11:27 AM

      • The system was not intended to work for people, but for the macroeconomy. I acknowledge the system is not perfect, just or perfectly meritocratic, whatever criterion on uses to determine whether the “system” is just or “perfect”, but, nevertheless, it works efficiently enough to allocate human talent for the needs of the economy, and it does identifies intellectual talent, although some talented individuals may be neglected.

        Moreover, it is difficult to imagine that any amount of intellectual grooming from one’s parents or educators would transform an innate 1100 (even a flagship state university is a long shot but not unreachable) to a 1400. That is why reason why the SAT is reliable and is the key instrument in the apparent educational meritocracy because it is so robust to the effects of coaching.

        Latias

        August 24, 2013 at 3:09 PM

      • Latias thinks she’s had some subtle insight. She hasn’t.

        The US “system” is unique. It is uniquely bad.

        In all other countries, developed and developing (with the exception of Canada), talent is selected for much more efficiently.

        So MUCH more efficiently that the rest of the world sends its dumb kids to the US for uni. And because US unis are just like US high schools some of them do very well get PhDs from good unis.

        The problem is grades replacing cumulative exams. Grades are short term and subjective. Exams are long term and objective (or much more objective).

        The bottom line is the US is sh**.

        Hugh Lygon

        August 24, 2013 at 9:00 PM

      • You’re basically just saying that our economy is good enough and fair enough so we shouldn’t try to reform it. That’s just an incredibly dumb argument. If you use reasonable criteria for an economy such as that it should generate full employment and that it should distribute wealth in such a way that roughly matches the distribution of human abilities it’s actually a pretty bad economy and getting worse. But as long we’re better than Somalia I’m not allowed to complain, right?

        It’s defenseless for even a perfect evaluation of someones 17 year old self to follow them around their whole life and be such a deciding factor in their opportunities. A perfect evaluation of a 17 year old (and the current system falls well short both of perfect and of what’s possible) can only ever be just that – an evaluation of a 17 year old.

        reynald

        August 25, 2013 at 12:12 AM

      • You’re basically just saying that our economy is good enough and fair enough so we shouldn’t try to reform it. That’s just an incredibly dumb argument.

        I am simply saying that the system works well enough for business and the government as I never claimed it was a nearly optimal arrangement, but it at least serves its utilitarian economic function well enough. If business wants more labor, they can announce a labor shortage and petition legislators for more immigrant laborers. A meritocratic regime of educational standardized testing does an excellent job of identifying people with raw intellectual talent; one would have to dismiss the validity and unreliability of psychometric instruments, such as the SAT, and research on the predictive power of general intelligence in order to believe a substantial number of talent individuals (let’s arbitrarily define them as people with innate SAT scores above 1300) are not being identified by the current system. But does not seem likely due to the high penetration of college entrance exams (and even the PSAT) as most students want to enter college and these students would be identified by standardized testing. It seems reasonable that the population of examinees are self-selected: those who have the potential to score above 1300 would likely take the SAT or ACT and attend college that reflects their demonstrated intellectual ability as assessed by their performance on those tests. Those individuals may not attended top tier colleges, but they are respected enough that private employers would deem them quite competent for complicated, dynamic, and abstract work.

        As a former Marxist-Leninist, I believe the bourgeoisie have overwhelming political influence over the United States, while the average citizen has comparatively little: the system works well enough for the interests of private, globalized capital, so there is little political incentive for reform, regardless of the adverse effects of these policies have on the average citizen. It is a Machiavellian perspective since it downplays any notion of “justice” or “fairness” from either a conservative or progressive ideology as vacuous idealism, and instead focuses on the interests of those who wield political power.

        But as long we’re better than Somalia I’m not allowed to complain, right?

        Complain all you want and propose more “just” social policies and legislation; it may be a means of venting your discontentment, but it would not fundamentally change anything.

        Latias

        August 25, 2013 at 4:09 AM

      • ” A meritocratic regime of educational standardized testing does an excellent job of identifying people with raw intellectual talent”

        Oh dear God Latias. THAT is the way the REST of the world DOES it.

        IT isn’t the way the US does it. THAT’S the problem.

        I scored higher than the median of those admitted to Cal-Tech, Yale, MIT, Harvard, etc. on SAT, CBATs, ACT the year I applied (and all years as far as I know). Was I admitted? No.

        You’re ridiculous.

        Hugh Lygon

        August 25, 2013 at 11:12 PM

      • This is one reason among many, but it is sufficient for me to always hate my native country the US.

        The opaque and subjective admissions at elite US schools, and the favoring of the pushy over the smart, shows in the US elite. Compared to that of other countries the US elite is DUMB and PUSHY and OBEDIENT.

        There is less range of opinion in the US elite than there was in Stalin’s Central Committee. Obama is to Blankfein what Molotov was to Kaganovich.

        Here’s someone who like Engels came to the same conclusion independently:

        Hugh Lygon

        August 25, 2013 at 11:26 PM

      • So it would seem you hate your country because your high standardized test scores were not rewarded with high social status via admission to a prestigious school and an elite career track.

        I didn’t say the US educational meritocracy is entirely based on intelligence, but it is certainly a huge component of it. Conformity is indeed needed in addition to high intelligence.

        So what was the giveaway in your application that you would not be an obedient student? Did you say anything like “fuck private enterprise”, “screw liberal political correctness” or “long live Stalin”, “long live the people’s revolution”, “overthrow the US government”, “democracy is a farce”, “down with homework” or “thug life 4ever”?

        Latias

        August 26, 2013 at 12:14 AM

      • The SAT was never an IQ test and has been steadily moving further and further away from measuring crystallized intelligence and towards fluid intelligence. If someone doesn’t read during High School they are not going to score well on at test of vocabulary and reading retention. If someone does not do math homework during high school they’re not going to do well when tested on those concepts. Different environments are going to cause people to utilize their innate abilities to very different degrees.

        Plus college admissions are not strictly based on the SAT but also an array of arbitrary and intentionally arcane standards. And then people have to be able to afford college and the most prestigious colleges are generally very very expensive.

        Even if the SAT was so great, why not let people take it again later in life so that employers have a more up to date measure of a candidates abilities? And why does an entrenched elite of 100+ year old universities have to grow rich as middle men using their brands to certify that someone scored well on the SAT when they were 17?

        The arrangement is clearly sub optimal for business (among other things they’re paying for their employees inflated tuition) but it represents a collective action problem. Our society is almost totally incapable of dealing with those problems. The SAT itself did not come from the business world either so it’s questionable if it was ever capable of effecting the kind of social change we’ve been discussing.

        And obviously I dont think commenting on the internet is going to affect the world. I dont even think it’s going to change anyone’s mind here. I do it help crystallize my thought on the matter and engage people with different opinions.

        reynald

        August 26, 2013 at 12:41 AM

      • What gave it away?

        You obviously didn’t watch the vid.

        My grades, obviously and I didn’t have 7 extra-curriculars. There are NO such things as grades and extra-curriculars in EVERY OTHER COUNTRY IN THE WORLD.

        My public high school was ranked, by US News, in the top 2% of public high schools in the country. But it was INEXCUSABLY sh****. My teachers were lazy morons. I can’t imagine how sh**** schools below the 98th percentile are.

        Hugh Lygon

        August 26, 2013 at 4:54 PM

      • So you do not think conscientiousness (regardless of whether your high school assignments were asinine) has some predictive power in the academic or economic realms? You cited the video to say that elite institutions value conformity and did not discuss conscientiousness, and please do not conflate your unconscientiousness with a lack of conformity. Also Chomsky’s video primarily concerns the content of the curriculum and education as a vehicle of ideological indoctrination, and how noting that conformity and technological innovation are antithetical, while only tangentially addressing the college admission process.

        Surely you would have been admitted into Duke regardless of your grades..

        Latias

        August 26, 2013 at 11:49 PM

    • Right on and good on ya. It is still who you know more than what you know in America. Even in the case of engineering, graduates will use at most 10% of what they’ve learned. Almost all skills are acquired on the job. (It’s amazing how hiring managers seem not to understand this, and the US is paying the price) But if you’re smart-ish, your Daddy can get you a job at his company. If his company sucks, so will the rest of your life. If it’s great, life is easy, and you can look down on all the less skilled moochers.

      Whatever the reforms higher ed will still be an obscenely wasteful way of selecting people.

      And the issue that eternal economic expansion is impossible and that fewer and fewer people are required to produce everything that anyone with taste could possibly want is ignored.

      If it comes to pass that the fraction of graduates in engineering is 25% rather than 5%, even a lot of the smart ones will have no prospects.

      Hugh Lygon

      August 22, 2013 at 7:51 PM

  7. Not a terrible idea but it won’t stop the inflation of tuition. Perhaps it will make some schools cut down on their liberal arts departments?

    What they need to do is make college debt dischargeable in bankruptcy, get out of the student loan business and let the idiots who loan money to liberal arts majors eat it.

    XVO

    August 22, 2013 at 1:48 PM

    • Elaborate on this get out of the student loan idea. Keeping in mind that a lot of the economic benefits of a college education don’t go to the individual receiving it (they go to taxes, they generate extra consumption for the economy, etc.), many 18 year olds are stupid, irrational, easily manipulated and are primarily concerned with sex and summer camp style amenities rather than long term earning potential, banks are resistant to giving out long term loans without government subsidy(?), and many people pay their tuition without getting loans so loans are not anywhere close to being the only drivers of tuition inflation and even totally eliminating them (which your plan would fall well short of) may not even have much of an effect.

      reynald

      August 22, 2013 at 3:59 PM

      • many 18 year olds are stupid, irrational, easily manipulated

        Most students believe that “everything would work out” while entering college, myself included. They implicitly believe that a college education would at least guarantee them a good paying job while being completely oblivious to the notion of supply and demand — someone has to demand their skills and aptitudes. They just naively believe that somehow college would grant them valuable skills (and even if it does, then college would be considered “vocational”) but college’s main economic function is largely to signal preexisting aptitudes and abilities. Now the real question for the students to consider is whether the labor market would want the aptitude and skills that their respective credentials signals.

        Also, most students are not earnestly interested in learning.

        Latias

        August 22, 2013 at 10:07 PM

      • I’m saying the government should get out of the student loan business and make banks responsible for losses if they make a bad investment. The banks will of course pass the buck on to the parents as cosigners, but then you are forcing the parents to get involved. This will force banks and parents to evaluate what idiotic mistake their kid is making and push the needle in the right direction.

        Banks will lend for this with responsible cosigners but it will push some students who have no business going to college out and push others into cheaper programs that are more effective. Loans are a huge part of the tuition inflation. The failure and uselessness of high school and the propaganda (and widespread belief) that university is the only way to get ahead are the other parts

        XVO

        August 23, 2013 at 9:40 AM

      • Banks will lend for this with responsible cosigners but it will push some students who have no business going to college out and push others into cheaper programs that are more effective. Loans are a huge part of the tuition inflation. The failure and uselessness of high school and the propaganda (and widespread belief) that university is the only way to get ahead are the other parts

        That “propaganda” is true to a certain extent because university credentials seems to be the expedient way for a merely above average person to distinguish themselves from the mere high school graduates in the labor market. The value of a college degree mostly comes from its relative scarcity, some degrees being more equal than others, of course.

        It would seem that in order not to be considered “prole”, one would need to attain a college degree at least.

        Latias

        August 23, 2013 at 12:55 PM

      • I’m saying the government should get out of the student loan business and make banks responsible for losses if they make a bad investment. The banks will of course pass the buck on to the parents as cosigners, but then you are forcing the parents to get involved. This will force banks and parents to evaluate what idiotic mistake their kid is making and push the needle in the right direction.

        But if over half of the economic activity added by going to college goes to people other than the student (taxes on the student and the consumption itself and taxes on it generated by the multiplier effect) than you need some sort of government role to deal with that externality.

        Also, I’m not that familiar with the history of banking in this country but the government seems to always have a role in subsidizing long term loans which makes me think that a totally free market is reluctant to do it (although of course banks would continue to be subsidized in many other ways)

        reynald

        August 24, 2013 at 11:11 AM

  8. This won’t work quite as well as a lot of other commentators here are thinking. Graduation rates and debt are only one factor; the percentage of students who are low-income is another. Also, universities will be ranked against “peer institutions”. This means that a lot of otherwise poorly performing schools will look good because they compete with even worse ones.

    Anonymous

    August 22, 2013 at 5:01 PM

  9. Anyone have an opinion on that intern dying from being overworked?

    Class, prestige, career tracks, all the ingredients of a good Lion post…

    eradican

    August 22, 2013 at 6:20 PM

    • No opinion. But why be a whore when it’s better to be a bum?

      That surfer dude in San Diego on foodstamps got it right.

      JS

      August 22, 2013 at 9:12 PM

  10. Does it concern anyone that the government could decide which colleges “deserve” federal financial aid and which don’t? I can see the metrics being skewed in a manner that disfavors any institution not strictly of party line. In theory it’s a good idea but the nature of governments is to abuse and take for granted their powers. Who would watch the watchers? Our stalwart elected officials?

    islandmommy

    August 22, 2013 at 6:39 PM

  11. This is absolutely not a good idea. Look at the percentage of low-income enrolled. Presumably, the more low-income students you have, the higher your ranking.

    This is a “no whites need apply” policy.

    map

    August 22, 2013 at 7:25 PM

    • Actually, the majority of low-income young people with college potential are whites and Asians, not blacks. So the Obama plan would greatly benefit prole whites and Asians.

      Lion of the Blogosphere

      August 22, 2013 at 8:31 PM

      • It will emphatically not be used for that purpose. Blacks and hispanics are disproportionately poor and it is in this way that it will be used against whites and Asians.

        map

        August 22, 2013 at 8:45 PM

      • There are far more prole whites too poor to afford college.

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        August 22, 2013 at 8:55 PM

      • Thinking on this further, what are the odds that this *doesn’t* have an affirmative action component? Thinking it through, this may be the perfect instrument for affirmative action. Reward schools that bring in more minorities the same way you reward schools that bring in more students with Pell Grants. The way, you save the HBCU and you more or less tell schools that every white and Asian student means less money.

        trumwill

        August 22, 2013 at 9:00 PM

      • Well, I hope you are right.

        map

        August 22, 2013 at 9:18 PM

      • This is exactly why the Republican advocated affirmative action for the poor is opposed by Dems.

        Only something like 2% of HYPS students are from households with incomes below the national median. Parents’ income and children’s innate ability are correlated, but it’s not that extreme, is it?

        We’ll take the rich black kid over the clever son of a farmer, aren’t we great?

        Hugh Lygon

        August 23, 2013 at 1:13 AM

      • “There are far more prole whites too poor to afford college”.

        Here in the Big Apple, there are a lot of proles in the public CUNY school system. They make up about half of the population and Asians make up the other half. SWPLs attend schools such as NYU or Columbia.

        JS

        August 23, 2013 at 5:42 PM

  12. Lion, I though this would be right up youtr alley.

    http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2261393

    map

    August 22, 2013 at 8:50 PM


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