Commentaries | Archive

Showing records: 1 to 10 out of 2015

The American Anthropological Association Barely Defeats
Scholarship requires an open forum, a skeptical approach, freedom of investigation and expression, and the acceptance of the results of research based on verifiable findings. The ideological approach in anthropology today is headed in the opposite direction: restriction of research, emphasis on the "correct" outcomes and suppression of opinions of dissenters through political correctness that leads to self censorship. Those features are closer to religion than to sound, scientifically based scholarship.... More »
June 24, 2016

The Private Student Lending Industry's Death Has Been Greatly Exaggerated
Mark Twain's famous quip about the rumors of his demise applies to the private higher education lending industry. Many people think that because Congress did away with the nominally private Federal Family Education Loan Program in 2010 and the Education Department's Federal Direct Loan Program has been mushrooming, the private lending business must be dead, or at least nearly so. Happily, that's not the case. While federal student loans constitute about 90 percent of all student loan originations now, there is still a vibrant and innovative private sector. Lenders there put their own money at risk, instead of ladling it out carelessly, as the feds do. In 2014-15, private loans for higher education were approximately $9 billion.... More »
June 22, 2016

UNC-Chapel Hill's Economics Program Lacks Historical Perspective
Students in Econ 101, the majority of whom in a given semester are likely to be non-Economics majors, are poorly served during the time it takes to memorize the equation for price elasticity. Instead, a better economics foundation could be built by interpreting excerpts from, say, Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations. Similarly, Econ 420 can produce better economic thinkers by focusing less on fitting into the course as many models as possible, and more on actually reading the groundbreaking books and analyses of John Maynard Keynes, Milton Friedman, and others.... More »
June 20, 2016

A Meaningful Math Requirement: College Algebra or Something Else?
Yes, I, a math professor, am prepared to argue for doing away with a math requirement if such a requirement is nothing more than a formal hurdle, adding little or nothing to a student's education and only reinforcing the negative associations students already have concerning mathematics.... More »
June 17, 2016

Should Employers Be Prohibited from Asking Applicants About College Credentials?
Instead of instituting a new prohibition in the labor market, the right policy is to open the market up, creating new and better means for employers to decide which applicants are worth considering. Congress should amend the Civil Rights Act to state that it is not "employment discrimination" for a firm to rely upon any kind of testing, whether or not it has a "disparate impact" on any group.... More »
June 15, 2016

Enriching the NCAA Through State Law
Last month, former NC State football player Eric Leak made headlines for giving an unnamed UNC athlete "improper benefits," in violation of the Uniform Athlete Agents Act (UAAA). The NCAA claims that the law is necessary to "protect" student-athletes from unscrupulous agents who will use "any means necessary" to "ensnare" them. But there's little evidence the NCAA has students' interests in mind. The UAAA, by ensuring students hear only one kind of advice—stay in school to play for the college team—allows the NCAA and universities themselves to maximize their revenues. Every year a popular athlete stays in school is another year he helps the NCAA's bottom line.... More »
June 13, 2016

A New College Makes the (ACTA) Grade
The American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) advises trustees and alumni about higher education issues, identifies "oases of [educational] excellence," and examines graduation requirements at various colleges to answer the question "What Will They Learn?" In that report, ACTA scrutinizes each college's curriculum, looking for seven requirements: composition, literature, foreign language, U.S. history, economics, mathematics, and science. Based on the number of those essentials that are met, the school is assigned a grade. To earn an "A," a college must have at least six of those seven. In California, just four out of 71 institutions get an "A." One of those is Saint Katherine College, a unique four-year-old private institution near San Diego that currently has only a few dozen students but, according to founder and president Dr. Frank Papatheofanis, also has no intention of growing to more than 1,000.... More »
June 10, 2016

What's Wrong with Business Schools?
Ever since the 2008 financial crash, American business schools have been reeling from criticism. There is a widespread feeling that the financial meltdown was caused by graduates of elite business schools who created fortunes through hedge funds, derivatives, and other financial tricks. While that view is more fiction than fact, it has spawned conferences, books, and hand-wringing about the purpose of business schools.... More »
June 08, 2016

College Dropouts Cost North Carolina Taxpayers $446M Per Year
Students who leave college with no degree but an accumulation of debt face obvious hardship, but what about taxpayer money wasted on students with no degrees? The results for North Carolina are staggering. Of the 155,982 students who enrolled in one of the state's 16 public universities last year, 52,184 will not graduate. To Dr. Harry C. Stille, president of the Higher Education Research and Policy Center, this trend indicates potential fraud—committed by public universities that knowingly admit unprepared students. Stille estimates that in 2014, $446 million in state money was wasted on non-completing students. Accounting for the total educational cost—which includes tuition and fees paid by students and their families—the amount was $672 million.... More »
June 06, 2016

Welcome to Freshman Orientation, Now Meet Your Career Counselor!
Typically, a college's career services department provides a lot of useful tools for students: help with resume writing, conducting job fairs on campus, maintaining bulletin boards of available jobs and internships, linking students with alumni who are willing to help in the networking process, etc. But those are only transactional tools. They do nothing to help a student make the fundamental choice of an appropriate career path. This system needs to change.... More »
June 03, 2016

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