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Amazing! A graph that tracks my self-satisfaction at being an '03 grad! At least I didn't pay 40% more for my worthless ASU diploma.

I mean, it's not even in Latin!

Spot on!

I only wish more people would talk about the real issues in the US. Too much time is spent on issues that only create political theatre. The US Congress, especially, is becoming is less effective and more vociferous.

Our ineffective educational system and "entitlements are destroying the superiority the US has enjoyed in the past. President Sarcozy understands this. The rest of "old Europe" is beginning to.

Wake up America! Dispose of ineffective leadership, irregardless the political party. Place leadership and effectiveness high on the list when deciding on election day.

So, you are a bright and motivated young college student. You have a desire to teach...and in Arizona you might make $35K (elementary) or $38-40K (high school)first year, that includes Prop 301 and if you coach or sponsor a team/club.

But, your tuition is $6K a year, books are a thousand a year, and the job at the local restaurant just isn't enough to pay the high auto insurance and gasoline to get to school, so the extra loan money helps pay the rent. You realize when graduation comes around and you are hit with a $40K student loan bill at $400 a month, rent is $850, other bills like food take a chunk....and your bring home pay is $1800 a month....maybe you will look at another major.

We have herds of kids from California at ASU and U of A. If the out of state tuition was doubled it would still be less than CA's in state.

Educate OUR children to be a part of a thriving, robust economy with quality schools and diversity in opportunities at the cost constitutionally dictated...as nearly free as possible.

Face it, Arizona's economy must be built on something other than real estate, construction, and the lawyers surrounding both. :)

Thank You!

I'm a parent that is paying (with loans, no grants and/or scholarships) for my daughter to attend NAU. Every year tuition goes up, not a little, but a lot. Now, just yesterday, I hear that they are asking for another monstrous tuition hike.

Go figure, just my luck, your pretty little graph starts sky-rocketing when she starts going to college, she's in her 4th year now.

Once, again, the educrats are just out of step with reality. The Land of Liberalism (educational institutions of higher learning) live to build their own self-esteem/worth on the backs of others (I believe that is socialism, but here in the US they prefer to be called Democrats).

Thank you for pointing this out so clearly!

However, I can't help myself. I've got to get my daughter started in life with a 'good' education and without crushing the life out of her with the debt ... the debt will apparently be our burden.

Another reason for the low number of college graduates is the lack of four-year colleges in rural areas. If you do not live close to ASU, U of A or NAU, it is hard to get a degree unless you are willing to move or pay the extra expense of a residential student - something not everyone can or wants to do.

Ironically, the historically low cost of our state universities have kept private and non-profit colleges away, so we now have a limited four-year degree market with a growing price tag.

The two obvious solutions (some community colleges granting some four-year degrees or a less costly state college system with faculty focused on teaching instead of research) are vigorously opposed by the state universities, who see education enrollment as a "zero sum" game. Add to that the belief by some rural legislators that their constituents deserve four-year degrees from prestigious research institution and not “inferior” community colleges or state colleges and the result is less people getting degrees.

Disclosure: I am a community college professor.

Greg is pointing to a significant problem. Tuition rates are pricing working families out of higher education.

I disagree with his attempt to attribute the response to the kind of "rational behavior" espoused in college economics classes.

The fact is that families want to go to college, but the parents are dealing with their own mountains of debt (mortgages, credit cards, care for elderly parents and other kids still living at home) and skyrocketing student loan rates.

They still want to go to college. They simply can't afford it.

BTW, I write this as a the parent of an 18-year-old high school senior. As someone who is very bad at making money, I have no idea how to get him through college, but I intend to move heaven and earth to make it happen. That's my job. I'm his dad.

To my rightist friends, Greg included, I suggest you read the state Constitution, which says the universities must be as free as practically possible (words to that effect).

The ambiguous phrasing has been stretched to ridiculous levels by the Legislature, which has an anti-intellectual knee-jerk response to "lib-ruhl" college professors teaching dangerous concepts like global warming and global tolerance. I will also grant that greedy university bureaucrats keep driving up costs faster than inflation.

But the bottom line is that people want to go to college, but the ruling class in this state has chosen to make it difficult for most, and literally impossible for some.

And that is wrong, and that violates the state Constitution.

Arizona college students will be demanding that the Legislature adopt a tuition freeze. That will be tough, given the budget problems, but they're right.

Obviously I have an 18-year-old pony in this race. Still, I urge people to support a tuition freeze.

Or get a job at a private university and get free tuition.

Or get a government job and let them pay for the tuition.

Or get really good grades and let the university pay your tuition.

Even community college tuition is almost $100 a credit hour now.

I have a daughter at NAU. She is so cognizant of the cost (which I am picking up -- I'm Dad, after all) that she is working her bottom off to graduate early. I have not asked her to do this, but she wants to. God bless her.

I like NAU. It's smaller and more personal, meaning the undergrad experience is probably better.

And the problem I'm about to discuss isn't too bad at NAU, but at ASU and UA, they are paying a lot for professors to write academic articles for publication no one reads so that the schools can wallow in research.

Research is important, but we pay these guys to teach, don't we? There must be a model whereby reserachers get paid by grants or, better yet, can reap financial benefits for research that, I dunno, might actually have a real-world application.

Greg,

Great article. I would suggest that some of the problem is not just economic. Most of our universities and community colleges need to take a serious look at the teaching models and structures they use an get them modernized. A lot of potential students that have just graduated from 4 stifling years of high school don't neccessarily want to go right back into that same kind of atmosphere. The younger students see the pain that a lot of their parents and/or older siblings go through and choose not to do that to themselves. There is a reason that non-traditional eduction and certificate programs are making good grounds.

The colleges can boost attendance, in addition to lowering costs, by revamping how they teach. They can adjust their curriculums to focus on what the students need to learn. It seems that many of the curriculum are based on the proffessors ego, or what the board of regents etc want to teach regardless if it is needed or not.

They need to invent a new structure that accomodates the working student, and one that fully utilizes modern technology. On-line education is great, but not so hot if all it does is poorly replicate the "classroom" experience, which many students hate.

We also need to accept that colleges are truly not a "non-profit" organization. I understand that they don't make a profit like regular business, but high salaries, high benefit plans, top-end retirement packages etc require a profit to be made.

If we weren't talking about three government-run and government-subsidized (otherwise known as socialized) universities here much of Greg Patterson's post and subsequent commentary might make sense. Reducing the breadth and width of ASU/NAU/UofA would do wonders for the cost of living here in Arizona. As it is ASU is a cancer upon the city of Tempe and has managed to replace a once productive non-government-run and non-government-subsidized retail mall in Scottsdale (Los Arcos Mall) with one more government R&D boondoggle. Debating government tuition rates at ASU/NAU/UofA is as much a waste of time as debating what should the proper price of tomatoes be (I would have said gasoline but better a commodity people can discuss rationally).

How about instead of debating how the government should run these three universities "better" (a guarantee it will NEVER be resolved) we the oppressed taxpayers recommend that the state of Arizona sell off (the unneeded and inefficient) ASU and/or NAU and or UofA schools and allow the marketplace to determine what the proper rate for tuition should be in Arizona?

In deference to the Arizona Constitutional mandate in Article XI we might consider allowing the state government one agriculture school and one school of mines but "technical schools as may be essential" in my book means none as essential technical schools are already pretty well provided by ITT Institute, Anthem College/Hi Tech Institute, University of Phoenix, Ottawa University, DeVry University, University of Advancing Technology, Western International University and Western Governors University (a *partial* list) and other well run private (e.g. non-government-run, if still federal government subsidized) institutes of higher learning.

The problem is too much government-run and government-subsidized education, not that it isn't run "right". The solution is to reduce the size and scope of government education so that a free market may provide those educational products and services that are necessary and stop over-providing overpriced (or under-priced, depending upon how you look at it) government education.


Vedders has done some excellent work on the value of a college degree and the interdepdency between legislative action and tuition. In order to reduce tuition by $1 legislatures have to send another $20. Obviously, the middlemen in this process have a high exaction.

Universities act primarily as a rough sorting machine separating the motivated and talented from the less motivated and less talented.

Even there, they do an inadequate job. It is no accident that both Steve Jobs and Bill Gates were college dropouts who came to the conclusion that college was adding very little value. Many highly talented and highly motivated students drop out every year because college has very low value added.

For every 100 students who enter ASU this year, less than 7 will both graduate and rate the quality of their education excellent.

We accept that and a culture that pays people over $50,000 a year for a 20 hour work week and a 9 month year because our culture both reveres the college degree and because we are extremely gullible consumers of public goods.

The Board of Regents has gone completely over to the dark side. They now have the specific objective to increase tuition. Most boards have objectives to improve quality and reduce cost. This board has the specific objective to increase cost. And, they have completely abandoned the objective of improving quality - as quality is understood in the private sector - i.e. adding more value to the service.


Many people think obtaining a college education has to make economic sense. Can I challenge that? Can one wish to get an education for its own sake?

Now the AZ Constitution -- is the proposition of an education that is as "nearly free as possible" an education for its own sake, or is is proposing residents have a right to job-related, technical training because it will help drive the economy?

I'm asking about our definition of education because that's really what this is all about. I think people, and taxpayers, are looking for mere economic returns where there just may not be any. Greg has identified the answer, but maybe he's asking the wrong question.

I agree with Timothy's purist view of a college education, but today's student must consider the economic side as well. The element missing in our society, that used to serve an economic need, was the apprenticeship system where a student learned a skill from a master in the field. Some tech jobs today are changing at such a rapid pace, time spent learning at a college is less valuable than the same time invested in on-the-job training. Colleges and universities should be more proactive at seeking partnerships with individuals and small companies to provide apprenticeship opportunities --accepting the masters' certification and approval as sufficient to constitute credit toward a degree. This might seem uncomfortable to career higher education experts, but not all students (or needed skills) fit the lecture hall, mid-term, final exam mold.

To respond to "Test", the point of the article is that an economic decline is being attributed to a lack of enrollment at colleges and universities in Arizona. Yes, somebody can get an education for education's sake. Thats what a library card is for.

A good friend of mine will spend probably the next 10 years paying down 30 large for the degree he needed to teach high school students. He doesn't regret going for the admirable job he has, but he grits his teeth at the ridiculousness of cost for a degree that pays so little in that profession. I make more than he does having only graduated high school, and whereas I'm thankful and consider myself fortunate, I'm starting to regret less and less having dropped out after my first year at the UofA.

Greg, Thanks for the review. As a parent of 3 college attending children (Two still attending ASU, one studying out of state) and considering that one just graduated from ASU ( with another son ready to start next fall), I am extremely conscious of the pressure facing young people in their efforts to obtain a "higher" education.

I know first hand that much of what is offered in the liberal arts and education departments is a waste of students' time. Someone needs to go through the curriculum and eliminate some bogus classes.

As for the cost of the universities, none is adding to the student's actual educational experience.

And since when is the president of ASU worth $750,000? I could do the job for half that and 70 students could go to school free. ($350,000 / 5,000 = 70 tuitions)

The truth is that the students are the "widgets" in this educational - industrial complex. The administration could care less about the average student at ASU.

It is about kingdom building.

It is all about Michael Crow.

BTW it would be nice if the "university" could allow one to seek to learn for the sake of learning. But in many situations it is not about learning, it is about propaganda, agendas, and indoctrination. And heaven help you is you disagree with a professor's ideology.

As for the legislature, perhaps it should conduct a very complete and public audit of everything the universities are doing and spending and allow the public to know first hand where every dollar is going and to whom.

Well, got to get back to earning the money to get the rest of the brood through school.

John, you wrote, " And heaven help you is you disagree with a professor's ideology."

I encourage student's to disagree with me where I teach (private university). They get bonus points for good critical thinking - aterall, isn't that what a good liberal arts education is about - critical thinking!

I have been in college for nine years...That's right, I graduated high school NINE years ago. In order to pay for skyrocketing tuition (and put a roof over my head), I must work full-time, which only gives me enough money to pay for and attend ASU on a part-time basis. Yes, it sucks, but I bought into the dream that if you have a college degree, you'll end up with a bigger paycheck in the end. Hmph.

Universitites in Arizona are not "nearly free as possible". People need to stop being so passive and demand a change. It really is getting ridiculous. And the quality of the education is not all that, either. I could teach some of those classes (better!) that the current teachers, and I don't even have a degree. It's like paying for a filet mignon and getting chopped meat. Yes, they are both indeed beef, but I paid a premium for a reason...

Ron, as a university teacher, you must be more careful representing your trade as you seem to have put an apostrophe (student's) where there shouldn't be one! And if you encourage students to disagree with you, that's as bad as encouraging them to agree. Neither breeds "critical thinking."

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