Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Struggles of Poor College Students

Jason DeParle's "For Poor, Leap to College often Ends in a Hard Fall" (NY Times, December 22, 2012) is a compelling piece of journalism on the growing crisis of college debt, especially for poor students with little safety net. Following three girls from Texas who made a pact to go to college and "not end up working at WalMart," the story puts a face to what the Times's statistics show is an increasingly common experience for college students from poor backgrounds.  As DeParle argues, the story of the struggle for higher education among the poor is actually the story of "the growing role that education plays in preserving class divisions." As he writes:
Poor students have long trailed affluent peers in school performance, but from grade-school tests to college completion, the gaps are growing. With school success and earning prospects ever more entwined, the consequences carry far: education, a force meant to erode class barriers, appears to be fortifying them.
Read the rest online.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Freakonomics of College

"The Things They Taught Me" is a fascinating radio show, from Freakonomics Radio and broadcast on NPR.  The discussion focuses on the costs of college and what you get for the money you spend.  In the end, it is a more positive view than you'd expect considering all of the problems with college that they cover.  Worth a listen.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

DIYU a Rising Trend?

In a trend that is likely to keep some college administrators up at night, Alex Williams reports for The New York Times that more young people are "Saying No to College."  Some are following the lead of famous drop-outs like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs into the computer industry, where tech skills have always trumped degrees and "one-and-done" is "almost a badge of honor."  Others are following more of a "DIYU" path: learning online from MOOCs and piecing together an education on their own.  Williams even suggests that the traditional college path may no longer be a good match to the current economy, which calls for and rewards creativity over conformity, as argued by Michael Ellsberg in The Education of Millionaires.  The article does a good job of capturing the voices of dissent to the "college for all" paradigm, and the range of evidence it presents suggests a new anti-college convergence, especially with "Student Loan Debt Rising, and Often Not Being Paid Back."  Worth reading.