Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The College Student's Presidential Choice

"Which Presidential Candidate Is Better for College Applicants?" in yesterday's NY Times does a great job of boiling down the differences between Obama and Romney from a college student's perspective.  I think the choice is clear, but I will leave it to your judgment.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

"Maxed Out" on YouTube

I watched "Maxed Out" last night on Netflix and saw today that it is available for free on YouTube.  It is a great introduction to the way banks are making enormous amounts of money through predatory lending practices.  When we consider the fact that banks are the chief proprietors of for-profit colleges, you might start to see a conspiracy afoot....  Part of the film deals with the way credit card companies have gotten college students hooked on credit.  It's a real eye-opener.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

U.S. News College Rankings

U.S. News released its 2013 college rankings, where Rutgers placed a respectable 68th overall.  Interesting statistics on the school include a 77% 6-year graduation rate (which is lower than the 87% figure I mentioned the other day in class -- by comparison to Phoenix's 10% mentioned in College, Inc.)  The business of college rankings could be an interesting topic for the class.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

"Declining by Degrees" on YouTube

I thought about assigning "Declining by Degrees" as a text for our class, since it offers a wonderful overview of controversies surrounding college today -- touching on binge drinking, the growing importance of sports on campus (and how that both detracts and distracts from academics), the rising cost of tuition, students working long hours at jobs while in school, declining academic standards, the increasing privatization, the question of whether traditional instructional methods really work, the pressures on faculty, etc. etc.  But it is a little long (at two hours), and I wanted to focus on debt and privatization this term, which is not a big focus of the film.  However, as it is available on YouTube (see first part above) and various other venues, I recommend that you take a look at it, especially if you are trying to get ideas for your final research topic.  

Friday, September 14, 2012

RU Professor Critiques Athletics Budget

Mark Killingsworth addresses SAS faculty.
In "Cleaning up after U. Athletics," RU Economics professor Mark Killingsworth presents a well-argued opinion piece in today's Targum, in which he defends new RU president Robert Barchi's call for a reduction in the amount of money that Rutgers is spending on athletics (which cost over $28 million each year).  Killingsworth was among those who has led a vote by the SAS faculty for deep cuts to the athletics budget.  If Barchi pursues his current position regarding athletics, the story could easily make national news.  In any event, the controversy would make for a fascinating research topic.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

"Degrees of Debt" in The NY Times

At nearly $17K, Rutgers Students Still Have Less Debt than Many Others
"Debt Collectors Cashing in on Student Loans" in today's New York Times is the fourth article in their powerful series "Degrees of Debt," which puts a human face on the statistically terrible toll that privatization has had on this generation of college students.  The reporting by Andrew Martin and Ron Lieber is first-rate, and I would not be surprised to see their timely series nominated for a Pullitzer.  Previous pieces include:

Most impressive is the interactive graphic that accompanies the series, which shows Student Debt at Colleges and Universities Across the Nation.  According to the graphic, Rutgers students are not doing too badly, even though Rutgers tuition and fees are among the highest for public schools.  But the average graduate in 2010 still had $16,766 in debt, which is quite a burden given the economy.  Meanwhile, in their graphic "Bad Student Debt Stubbornly High as Collection Efforts Surge" we see just how bad the default rate is at for-profit schools (our focus in next week's discussion).