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View Diary: Obama proposals to lower college costs fail to tackle the real driver of rising tuition (170 comments)

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  •  I LIKE THIS IDEA A LOT!!! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blue aardvark
    First, we’re going to start rating colleges not just by which college is the most selective, not just by which college is the most expensive, not just by which college has the nicest facilities -- you can get all of that on the existing rating systems.  What we want to do is rate them on who's offering the best value so students and taxpayers get a bigger bang for their buck.
    and,
    Right now, private rankings like U.S. News and World Report puts out each year their rankings, and it encourages a lot of colleges to focus on ways to -- how do we game the numbers, and it actually rewards them, in some cases, for raising costs.  I think we should rate colleges based on opportunity ...
    You may call it tinkering around the edges, but I think this gets close to a root source of the problem. For too long, colleges have had perverse incentives to spend money wildly, astromonically raising costs, and too many kids & parents have followed along, in vain and foolish pursuit of status.

    It would be wonderful if some credible agency -- not U. S. News, fer gosh sakes -- would rank colleges on the basis of cost/benefit. Heck, if Elizabeth Warren would scrawl some notes on the back of an envelope, it'd be better than the system we have now.

    “Americans are fighters. We're tough, resourceful and creative, and if we have the chance to fight on a level playing field, where everyone pays a fair share and everyone has a real shot, then no one - no one - can stop us. ”-- Elizabeth Warren

    by Positronicus on Thu Aug 22, 2013 at 11:09:15 AM PDT

    •  neo-liberalism again (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wu ming, chuckvw

      The same old idea that the market will solve the problem itself if we just give accurate cost/value information.

      •  The truth will set you free (0+ / 0-)

        That idea is a lot older than neo-liberalism, and remains valid. Consumers with information make better choices, requiring the providers to raise their game.

        Economics is a social *science*. Can we base future economic decisions on math?

        by blue aardvark on Thu Aug 22, 2013 at 11:23:43 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  you're just repeating my point (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          blue aardvark

          I'm not sure why.

          •  I must have misunderstood (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ferg

            Or perhaps misunderestimated.

            Economics is a social *science*. Can we base future economic decisions on math?

            by blue aardvark on Thu Aug 22, 2013 at 11:47:17 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  ok (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              blue aardvark, peregrine kate

              Higher education, like health care, as a market is flawed compared to a simple commodity market.

              (For example, what is the value of connections, or a liberal arts degree? Not to mention the ability of an 18-year-old to predict their future career path. Or the non-career benefits: e.g. the MR/MRS degrees. Add the issue that it's a one-time choice, unlike commodities. Plus, what will the economy look like 30 years from now when 18-year-olds are in their peak earning.)

              Someone who proposes that the market can be fixed by publishing a better cost/benefit report for a generic student at universities looks naive at best. A better report is a good idea (Washington Monthly does one), but it's not a solution.

      •  It's not the consumers, it's the colleges (0+ / 0-)

        IF consumers pay attention to the proposed list -- and I agree, that's a big if -- THEN the colleges can have a new and different "arms race", hopefully a healthier one.

        Right now, colleges are dukeing it out to climb up the ladder on the USNews list. The list itself creates all kinds of perverse incentives that warp the process and the cost.

        For example, one of the criteria on the list is "selectiveness", which means the ratio of students accepted to applications received. The lower the ratio, the more "selective" the college is.

        You can manipulate the ratio in two ways. You can accept fewer students, OR, you can solicit more applications. To get more applications, you send out all kinds of marketing literature, and keep the cost of the application low. Private colleges that are good at this game can generate over 20,000 applications per year for a class of maybe 1600 freshmen.

        This creates its own problems. You have to hire more staff to process the flood of applications, and/or overwork your existing staff. Evaluating the applications turns into a high-stress, assembly line operation. Students wind up sending in way too many applications.

        Some students wind up accepted by way too many colleges. Since they have to turn down all but one, colleges actually have to accept far more students than they can possibly admit. Another number, called the "yield", decribes the ratio of students accepted to students who actually enroll. Yields are sometimes in the range of 30%. This is not a rational system. It's a crapshoot.

        There are all kinds of other perverse incentives in the current system, which relies far too heavily on an arbitrary formula invented by a single, unaccountable institution, U.S. News. If there was another system, at least some colleges could choose to compete within it, and claim, for example, "every one of our students graduates debt free!"

        I like the idea.

        “Americans are fighters. We're tough, resourceful and creative, and if we have the chance to fight on a level playing field, where everyone pays a fair share and everyone has a real shot, then no one - no one - can stop us. ”-- Elizabeth Warren

        by Positronicus on Thu Aug 22, 2013 at 01:47:17 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  No, it won't fix everything (0+ / 0-)

          I'm not suggesting that this alone will solve all the problems, but it is a step in the right direction.

          “Americans are fighters. We're tough, resourceful and creative, and if we have the chance to fight on a level playing field, where everyone pays a fair share and everyone has a real shot, then no one - no one - can stop us. ”-- Elizabeth Warren

          by Positronicus on Thu Aug 22, 2013 at 01:51:16 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  because it worked so well for k-12 (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      chuckvw

      with no child left behind, race to the top, and all the other awful school "reform" obsession with metrics that can be massaged to "prove" our schools need to be privatized.

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