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Anya Kamenetz, DIY U, and the Future of Higher Education

There’s a growing number of books on higher education reform. One that I recently found interesting and provocative is DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education by Anya Kamenetz (staff writer for Fast Company who regularly publishes in a variety of places). Thankfully, Ms. Kamenetz was willing to answer a few questions for us.

Do you think high schools today push four-year college onto students who should be considering other paths (associate degrees, trade schools, etc.)? And if so, what, historically, has led to this bias?

It’s not just high schools that push the four year college ideal. American citizens overwhelmingly support that as the ideal, especially when you ask them about their own kids, and politicians follow their lead, making discussion of alternate paths taboo. Nobody wants to track kids but I think there’s a basic lack of awareness that more years of education doesn’t always add up to a better life. The key is for people to be able to pursue the course of study that’s right for them.

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The Myth of Working Your Way Through College

Svati Kirsten Narula, writing for The Atlantic:  ”the average student in 1979 could work 182 hours (a part-time summer job) to pay for a year’s tuition. In 2013, it took 991 hours (a full-time job for half the year) to accomplish the same.”


Read the whole thing.

FYI – My new  book has tips on saving for college, lowering the costs of college, and earning money during college.

Perman/Chediak Author Meet-Up at T4G

Matt PermanMy friend Matt Perman and I are hosting an informal author meet-up in the lobby of The Galt House at 10:00 PM on Tuesday night (4/8) of the Together for the Gospel conference. (Note: the lobby is in the first floor of the Suit Tower.) We will have some copies of our books to give away. Stop by for a chance to win, or increase your chances of winning by e-mailing a question in advance. We’ll do our best to answer as many questions as we can at the meet-up.

Matt Perman is the author of What’s Best Next and a former director of strategy at Desiring God. Here’s a nutshell description of our books:

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Key Questions Addressed in My Book

It occurred to me that it might be helpful–or at least different–to introduce Preparing Your Teens for College from the standpoint of key questions that I sought to address in the book.  Here are seven of them:

1. What are the key character traits teens need to be successful at a college (of any sort)?

2. How can we help our teens own the Christian faith for themselves?

3. How can we help our teens make wise relational decisions and avoid the subversive influences of the wrong crowd?

4. How can we help our teens learn sound principles of financial stewardship so that they don’t become trapped in consumer debt or excessive student loan debt?

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How To Prepare Your Teen for College

I’m grateful to Matt Smethurst of The Gospel Coalition for taking the time to interview me about Preparing Your Teens for College. Here’s one of our interactions:

How do today’s economic conditions make preparing our kids for college more crucial than ever before?

College is more expensive than ever. But with regard to future earnings prospects, it’s also more significant than ever. In June 2013, the unemployment rate for non-college grads was 7.6 percent, but for college grads it was about half of that (3.9 percent). You’ll see this pattern, in good times and bad, over the last few decades. And the “earnings premium”—the additional money that a college graduate earns relative to a non-college graduate—has been steadily increasing. In 1979, high school graduates were paid 77 percent of what college graduates made; today they make about 62 percent.

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Student Loans Dragging Down the Economy?

Bureaucrats Paid $250,000 Feed Outcry Over U.S. College Tuition

Good article by Sam Frizell in Time magazine. A few excerpts:

“At the end of 2003, American students and graduates owed just $253 billion in aggregate debt; by the end of 2013, American students’ debt had ballooned to a total of $1.08 trillion, an increase of over 300%. In the past year alone, aggregate student debt grew 10%. By comparison, overall debt grew just 43% in the last decade and 1.6% over the past year.”

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Access, Affordability, and Success: Response to the President’s College Ratings Plan

Awilda Rodriguez and Andrew Kelly of the Center on Higher Education Reform at AEI:

Last fall, President Obama unveiled a plan to promote college affordability by changing the way the federal government distributes student financial aid. The proposal calls for a federal college ratings system that appraises colleges on measures of access, affordability, and student success.These ratings would then govern the allocation of federal student aid dollars, with schools that perform well receiving larger Pell Grants and more generous student loans. Schools that lag behind would get less….

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Should We Become a Cashless Society?

800px-Credit-cards.jpgConfession: I hate carrying and spending cash. Always have. I like the convenience of putting everything on one credit card, being able to have an instant record of my spending, and (of course) earning 1 percent cash back. I’m not prone to impulse purchases, and I’ve always paid my bill in full and on time. But Derek Thomas has a provocative article in The Atlantic on the downsides of our becoming a cashless society.

Thomas writes: “In the 1970s, fewer than 20 percent of the adult population owned a credit card. Today, between 70 and 80 percent of the adult population does.” So what? Thomas goes on to argue:

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Half of College Presidents Lack Long-term Confidence in Their Financial Model

The 2014 survey of college and university presidents, sponsored by Inside Higher Ed, has a few results that feed the narrative that while college has never been more expensive, many institutions are on unsustainable financial path (HT: the reference comes from chapter 4 of Jeff Selingo’s groundbreaking book College UnBound.)

Here are a few examples from the survey:

  • Nearly two-thirds of presidents are confident about the sustainability of their institution’s financial mode over the next five years — but that proportion falls to half over 10 years. Asked to rate the financial viability of various sectors of colleges, presidents were most pessimistic about non-wealthy private colleges, for-profit institutions, and non-flagship public universities.
  • Just 5 percent of all campus leaders strongly agree that the economic downturn that started in 2008 is effectively over at their institution.
  • Fewer than one in five presidents agree that assertions that a “significant number” of colleges face “existential financial crisis” are “overblown.”
You can freely download the entire survey (a 21 page PDF) by filling out a brief form.

Amazon is Temporarily Sold Out, But CBD and Others Have It

Amazon is temporarily out of inventory, but CBD has it, as does WTS Books, and others (including me, see the various widgets running down the right sidebar).

This is a good problem to have!  If you’ve not yet done so, consider checking out the book’s home page (which has been shared more times in two months than the Thriving at College page was shared in three years), reading an excerpt, watching the promo video, or reading a guest post I wrote for Desiring God or Bible Gateway.

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