Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Tuition Keeps Growing

Steven Pearlstein, a Washington Post business columnist, has some interesting observations about the rising cost of college tuition, which is outpacing inflation.


John Bruce said...

Thanks for the link. On some areas, he's simply not informed, though: he says that colleges depend on highly paid labor. No -- more than half of all faculty positions, and more than half of all courses, are held by/taught by contingent faculty, non-tenured adjuncts and TAs. Colleges and universities certainly have found low-cost alternatives, just like the rest of the economy, contrary to his assertion. (Contingent facutly typically are paid a straight $2-3000 per course, no benefits, no job security.)

In contrast, tenured faculty teach less and earn more. My understanding is that the standard teaching load at Dartmouth is four courses a year, but many faculty don't teach that many. Contingent faculty would gross maybe $12,000 a year at that teaching load, but it's not unusual for tenured profs at Dartmouth to earn more than $100,000. Pearlstine is apparently not aware of this.

Elite schools in particular educate the upper middle class and the wealthy, with a beard of black and Hispanic students to distract attention from this. One reason parents don't complain more about the inflation is that they can afford it.

The problem is that an Ivy education has always been overrated, and as far as I can see, it's increasingly so. Pearlstine does have it right, though he's vague about it, that the consumers aren't really getting their money's worth.

This is one of the issues behind the petition Trustee controversy, and it's not surprising that there are vocal, and indeed bitterly angry, people anxious to preserve the privileged status quo.

Anonymous said...

As long as education remains underpriced, the growth in its cost had better well outpace inflation. Don't you think an inefficient number of people is already enrolled in college? Shouldn't the market determine the cost of this service as it does with every other service?

The cost of a Dartmouth education is no more relevant to this debate than the cost of a Chanel handbag is to a debate on the cost of living -- it's a luxury item whose status is based in part on its very cost. Saying an Ivy education is "overrated" is like saying Manolos are hard to walk in -- no duh.

Anonymous said...

David, are you following the critique of Zywicki's paranoid rantings at a recent "conference" over at the AoA blog?
There's an article and even an audio clip. He calls President Freedman a "genuinely evil man" and compares his fellow trustees to Hugo Chavez. He also holds up McLaughlin's presidency, possibly unaware that McLaughlin advocated for a reduction of alumni trustees to 25% or fewer and would undoubtedly despise this guy for his crass disloyalty.

John Bruce said...

7:45, your point seems to be "a Dartmouth degree is a superficial adornment for the wealthy, duh!" I guess we agree.

Anonymous said...

If "a Dartmouth degree is a superficial adornment for the wealthy," then are you ashamed to have got one, being non-wealthy? You're one of those self-hating alums, aren't you? John W. "Prepmeister" Bruce, III?

John Bruce said...

I look at what I thought I was going to get, and I look at what I got, and I'm certainly disappointed. I got much more, from the standpoint of education, out of graduate school at USC, a very different place.

The "III" appears in my alumni record, but I don't use it. Not sure what a name has to do with things.

Anonymous said...

If you are not sure what a name has to do with things then why don't you use the III?