Are Colleges Dinosaurs?

29 07 2011

 By Timothy D. Naegele[1]

A friend of mine has some kids who are starting college this fall, and they just got back from an orientation session at the campus, which they loved.  Obviously the kids are talented because it is difficult to get into the school, and only the best students are chosen.  Everything was positive except for one thing: the cost.  As my friend told me: it is going to be very expensive right in the midst of a job change.  Amen to that!  The exorbitant costs associated with college educations have been rising for a long time now.[2]

America’s Middle Class is being priced out of colleges for their kids; and many parents are questioning whether college is worth it, and whether they can afford it.[3]  This is true to an even greater extent when it comes to graduate schools, such as law schools.[4]  As more and more Americans face economic problems during the balance of this decade, which will be true of their counterparts abroad as well[5], many will find that undergraduate college educations and graduate schools are luxuries that they cannot afford.  Many families will be doing whatever they can just to survive.

Lots of parents of those Americans who grew up during and after World War II never went to college.  To these parents, colleges were a gateway to great jobs and wonderful futures and the “American dream” for their children.  Today, like the issue of “home ownership” that was sold as part of that dream too, Americans are reassessing their goals and their capabilities; and their conclusions may not augur well for colleges, universities and graduate schools in the United States and abroad.  Certainly in the case of State-supported schools, where budgetary pressures are dictating that their expenditures be slashed, the twin pincers of parents who cannot afford to send their kids to these schools, and declining budgets, may break the backs of such schools.

Another old friend of mine, who covered Washington for many years as a talented and insightful political and economic reporter and editor, told me recently that colleges are effectively dinosaurs and relics of the past, like newspapers and newsweeklies in this Internet age.  The educational institutions of the future will be online—or so my friend believes—which cost a fraction of what “bricks-and-mortar” educational institutions cost today.  The kids now are computer literate like no generation of the past; and the idea of learning online is second nature to them.

Why spend money on college tuitions and campus living expenses, and professors’ salaries and the infrastructure of college campuses, when everything can be done online for a fraction of the cost?  Why have professors repeating essentially the same lectures year after year, when such lectures can be taped once and shown again and again on YouTube?  Why not eliminate “redundancy” and have the best professors teaching students online nationwide, and eliminate the costs of multiple professors?  Why allow “teaching assistants” (or “TAs”) to educate our kids, when the professors are paid to do this?  Why not eliminate colleges and graduates schools in wholesale numbers—just like libraries and book stores are closing or becoming “bookless” because everything is online?

The bottom line with respect to whether education shifts to the Internet might not be a function of conscious decisions by educators or parents: pure economics in America and globally will determine the results.  Falling governmental tax revenues will dictate drastic cuts like never before; and declining personal incomes and home values and foreclosures, and other family sacrifices, will result in changes to personal life styles that will affect the way educational programs are perceived and delivered worldwide.  It is not surprising that the Washington Post‘s parent sold Newsweek magazine for $1, and kept the Kaplan online schools that have become increasingly “cash cows” for the company.[6]

© 2011, Timothy D. Naegele


[1] Timothy D. Naegele was counsel to the United States Senate’s Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, and chief of staff to Presidential Medal of Freedom and Congressional Gold Medal recipient and former U.S. Senator Edward W. Brooke (R-Mass).  He practices law in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles with his firm, Timothy D. Naegele & Associates, which specializes in Banking and Financial Institutions Law, Internet Law, Litigation and other matters (see www.naegele.com and http://www.naegele.com/naegele_resume.html).  He has an undergraduate degree in economics from UCLA, as well as two law degrees from the School of Law (Boalt Hall), University of California, Berkeley, and from Georgetown University.  He is a member of the District of Columbia and California bars.  He served as a Captain in the U.S. Army, assigned to the Defense Intelligence Agency at the Pentagon, where he received the Joint Service Commendation Medal.  Mr. Naegele is an Independent politically; and he is listed in Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in American Law, and Who’s Who in Finance and Business. He has written extensively over the years (see, e.g.,www.naegele.com/whats_new.html#articles), and can be contacted directly at tdnaegele.associates@gmail.com; see also Google search:Timothy D. Naegele

[2] I served on the Board of Directors of the University of California, Santa Barbara Alumni Association, and as a Trustee of the UCSB Foundation, for a combined total of approximately ten years, overlapping the time that both of my kids and their spouses attended UCSB.  See http://www.naegele.com/naegele_resume.html

Tuition hikes were coming then, and I argued vehemently that they would price the Middle Class out of a University of California education.  I am a product of the University of California system, having attended UCSB, UCLA and Berkeley for law school; and the Middle Class has been the backbone of the university.  Needless to say, the cost hikes since I served on the UCSB boards have been even worse.

Also, the same thing has been happening with the law schools, yet law school graduates cannot find jobs today.  What they do is load themselves up with massive student loans, and then are unemployed or forced to take menial jobs, and they default on the loans.  It is “fraud” on the part of the law schools, because they keep touting the “value” of their education.  See infra n.4.

I had a “spirited discussion” about these issues with a very nice female UCSB professor, who was the “faculty adviser” to one of the boards on which I served; and I asserted that UCSB (and other UC schools) were not preparing undergrads for jobs, and that the job market for them would get even tighter.  Her response was that if students want to be prepared for jobs, they would need to go to graduate schools.  I essentially told her that was absurd because neither the students nor their parents could afford it, but this fact of life did not faze her one iota.

I expect before the end of this decade that one or more of the California State University campuses will close because of budgetary problems.  Whether it happens with one of the UC campuses remains to be seen.  This pattern will be repeated elsewhere in the United States, and in other countries.

[3] See, e.g., http://www.foxnews.com/us/2011/07/28/african-american-middle-class-eroding-as-unemployment-rate-soars/?test=latestnews (“It’s quite a sign of the times that people are questioning whether their education was worth all the time, effort and expense”)

[4] See, e.g., http://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2011/01/03/the-american-legal-system-is-broken-can-it-be-fixed/#comment-1274 (“Is Law School A Losing Game?”) and http://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2011/01/03/the-american-legal-system-is-broken-can-it-be-fixed/#comment-1583 (“The Law: A Less Gilded Future”) (see also the article itself, as well as the footnotes and other comments beneath it)

[5] See, e.g., http://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/09/27/the-economic-tsunami-continues-its-relentless-and-unforgiving-advance-globally/ (“The Economic Tsunami Continues Its Relentless And Unforgiving Advance Globally”) (see also the footnotes and comments beneath the article)

[6] See, e.g., http://www.businessinsider.com/its-official-newsweek-will-be-sold-to-former-stereo-equipment-mogul-sidney-harman-who-reportedly-bid-1-in-excha-2010-8 (“Newsweek Sells For $1 To Stereo Equipment Mogul Sidney Harman”) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Washington_Post_Company


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22 responses

29 07 2011
Timothy D. Naegele

A College Education Is The Largest Scam In U.S. History!

This is the assertion made beneath a YouTube video entitled, “College Conspiracy,” which is worth watching even though it is long.

See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VpZtX32sKVE

Also, this assertion is consistent with the views of law students about the costs and value of their legal educations, and the chances of getting jobs after law school—which is discussed at the links cited in footnote 4 of the article above.

See also http://www.usatoday.com/news/education/story/2011-10-25/public-college-costs-increase/50919598/1?loc=interstitialskip (“Tuition and fees rise more than 8% at U.S. public colleges”)

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30 07 2011
Timothy D. Naegele

[Note: What appears below are comments that were posted beneath another article on March 17, 2011 (see http://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/09/27/the-economic-tsunami-continues-its-relentless-and-unforgiving-advance-globally/#comment-1516), which are sobering and worth repeating here with respect to those who default on their student and related loans]

Debtors’ Prisons

The Wall Street Journal’s article entitled, “Welcome to Debtors’ Prison, 2011 Edition,” is worth reading. It states in pertinent part:

Some lawmakers, judges and regulators are trying to rein in the U.S. debt-collection industry’s use of arrest warrants to recoup money owed by borrowers who are behind on credit-card payments, auto loans and other bills.

More than a third of all U.S. states allow borrowers who can’t or won’t pay to be jailed. Judges have signed off on more than 5,000 such warrants since the start of 2010 in nine counties with a total population of 13.6 million people, according to a tally by The Wall Street Journal of filings in those counties. Nationwide figures aren’t known because many courts don’t keep track of warrants by alleged offense. In interviews, 20 judges across the nation said the number of borrowers threatened with arrest in their courtrooms has surged since the financial crisis began.

See http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704396504576204553811636610.html?mod=WSJ_hps_editorsPicks_1

As the American and other global economies decline during the balance of this decade, such draconian measures may be used more and more to collect debts and harass debtors.

See, e.g., http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Debtors'_prison

In the United States, it is unconstitutional to incarcerate someone solely for failing to pay a debt. For example, it violates (1) the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, (2) the Cruel and Unusual Punishment Clause of the Eighth Amendment (as applied to the States through the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment), and (3) the Eighth Amendment contains the Excessive Fines and Excessive Bail Clauses.

See http://topics.law.cornell.edu/constitution/amendmentxiv (Section 1: “No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws”) and http://topics.law.cornell.edu/constitution/billofrights#amendmentviii (Amendment VIII: “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted”)

In Florida, for example, the St. Petersburg Times stated in an editorial entitled, “Debtors’ prison—again”:

In a little-noticed trend blamed on the state’s hard economic times, several courts in Florida have resurrected the de facto debtor’s prison—having thousands of Floridians jailed for failing to pay assessed court fees and fines. The shortsighted plan threatens to run afoul of the U.S. Constitution. It appears to generate little additional revenue relative to the misery it causes, and it should be stopped.

. . .

Author Charles Dickens familiarized his readers with England’s system of squalid debtors’ prisons. Dickens’ father was imprisoned in Marshalsea for debts and Dickens set Little Dorrit there. But that country saw the light in the mid 19th century and outlawed jail for debtors.

In the United States, it is unconstitutional to incarcerate someone solely for failing to pay a debt. Florida officials get around this by claiming the defendants are going to jail not for their debts but for violating a court order. That is what you would call a self-serving technicality. The truth is that Florida has enthusiastically resurrected debtors’ prison. How Dickensian is that?

See, e.g., http://www.tampabay.com/opinion/editorials/article991963.ece

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30 07 2011
Timothy D. Naegele

Will Colleges Adapt, Or Be Cannibalized?

While it might be important which college someone attended when he or she applies for their first job, several years later it is essentially irrelevant. An online education may be just as valuable, at least in the future. Indeed, many fine universities worldwide would be wise to offer degrees online.

Also, the present generation of kids includes large numbers of video game “addicts.” Surely, some smart video producers can be hired by colleges and universities to make purely educational courses “fun” too. Or perhaps some will be hired by existing online schools such as Kaplan and the University of Phoenix . . . or maybe they will even start online schools of their own.

At some point, the online schools may hire the best and brightest professors from traditional “bricks-and-mortar” colleges, universities and graduate schools to help them with their educational programs, and to enhance their credibility.

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31 07 2011
UC Parent

I believe there is and will continue to be a place for brick and mortar places of higher learning, but these places will face real competition and eventually the cost bubble financed by the easy availability of student loans will meet its bust. Before that happens though a great many graduates will experience a prolonged underemployment in a suppressed job market leaving them unable to ever pay off the loans.

The bubble has been enabled by the easy financing which has allowed the universities to indulge whims without any normal market accountability. Easy financing plus the internationalization of the student pool has channeled competition into higher salaries for a few tenured professors and an ever expanding very well paid bureaucracy managing this and facilitating that. Much of the teaching load is carried by low paid untenured graduate students and professors.

What’s ironic is that the higher education system is more in control of people with left leaning ideological assumptions than any other part of our society. When allowed the freedom to craft their own world what did they do?

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31 07 2011
Timothy D. Naegele

Thank you for your thoughtful comments.

With all due respect, for many years the prevailing wisdom was that newspapers and newsweeklies had a bright future too, and that book stores were irreplaceable. However, many newspapers and book stores are gone now, without so much as ripples in the water—with much more of the same yet to come.

In California alone, with increasing budgetary pressures during the balance of this decade, can the University of California and the California State University systems continue to support all of their campuses, much less at anything approaching their present levels? My guess is no, and that the consequences will be just as “startling” as when favorite newspapers closed or became mere shells of their former selves, and book stores closed forever.

They had become obsolete, like the horse and buggy; and colleges and graduate schools are heading in the same direction. As stated in the article above, the cost of online education is a fraction of the cost of “bricks-and mortar” facilities and the bloated faculties that fill them. Something has to give, bigtime, and it will. Higher tuition costs and college living expenses cannot be borne by families who are suffering already, and who will suffer even more during the balance of this decade.

I agree that many graduates will be unable to pay off their loans, and some will be facing the prospect of spending time in “debtors’ prisons.”

See http://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2011/07/29/are-colleges-dinosaurs/#comment-1755

I agree with your last paragraph as well.

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6 10 2011
Timothy D. Naegele

Steve Jobs’ Legacy

When I first started using the Web, and put up a Web site, the Internet was being referred to as a “dirt road,” and not an information superhighway. Since then, it has grown geometrically and become much more sophisticated; and the current estimates are that out of the 6.9 billion people globally, approximately 2 billion use the Internet today.

See http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats.htm

Wow . . . all of us may say or think. How far we have come in a relatively short period of time. We bank with it; we meet our spouses (or significant others) using it; we buy most things via it; information is exchanged, and teaching is conducted like never before; revolutions are begun and continued because people connect through the Web; and elections are won or lost based on the Internet. Yet, few users realize how vulnerable it is to an EMP or other attack, which might bring it crashing down.

See http://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/01/19/emp-attack-only-30-million-americans-survive/ and http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011/10/virus-hits-drone-fleet/ (“Exclusive: Computer Virus Hits U.S. Drone Fleet”) and http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2046660/U-S-drones-killed-American-Al-Qaeda-boss-infected-virus-amid-fears-terrorists-logging-move.html (“U.S. drones that killed American Al Qaeda boss ‘infected by virus’ amid fears terrorists are logging their every move”); see also http://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2011/07/29/are-colleges-dinosaurs/

What Steve Jobs accomplished, as great as it has been, would not have been possible without the Internet. I am using my fifth-generation Apple laptop; and over the years, I have purchased lots of other Apple products, beginning with a PowerBook 160 almost 20 years ago. Like many other Apple users, I swear by them. Some of us have even communicated in the past with Steve, who has been receptive to many new ideas.

While the future is exceedingly bright, it is also fraught with enormous problems and challenges. China, Russia and other countries try to hack into the Pentagon’s computers on a regular basis; and they must be treated in substantially the same manner as if an enemy launched missiles against our cities. Fraudsters bilk Americans and others out of billions of dollars; and this will only get far worse with the passage of time. Law enforcement seems paralyzed when trying to address such problems, because they cross jurisdictional lines; and the necessary resources are not there, owing principally to declining budgets.

See, e.g., http://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/01/31/lawyers-and-internet-scams/

Steve was a hero to so many people, yet his final verdict may become available shortly, when an authorized biography is released; and in the future when true “insiders,” such as John Lasseter of Pixar/Disney, share their views of Steve and having worked with him and contributed mightily to many of his enormous successes.

See http://blogs.wsj.com/speakeasy/2011/10/05/pixars-john-lasseter-on-the-death-of-steve-jobs/?KEYWORDS=Lasseter

With tributes pouring in from around the world, an article in the UK’s Economist may have said it best about Steve:

[He was] somebody who was able to make people love what had previously been impersonal, functional gadgets. Strangely, it is this last quality that may have the deepest effect on the way people live.

See http://www.economist.com/node/21531529

Indeed, as much as Bill Gates and Microsoft undoubtedly have been very successful, this may be Steve’s lasting legacy, and not that of his competitors. He made computing fun, for lots of us who are not geeks and never will be; and we will always thank him and honor him for that gift.

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1 12 2011
Katherine

Where did you go? I would love to learn from you regarding the situation in the EU.

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1 12 2011
Timothy D. Naegele

Thank you, Katherine, for your comments as always.

I went to four colleges (i.e., UC, Santa Barbara, UCLA, Berkeley, Georgetown), which were excellent.

See http://www.naegele.com/naegele_resume.html

However, like great newspapers—and builders of fine buggies when automobiles came on the scene—this will not save them. We live in a computerized world, as this blog, e-mail messages, and YouTube attest.

At least two of the colleges that I attended are desperately seeking money now, from whatever sources they can tap (e.g., alums, foundations). This is especially true of the State-funded colleges, which are seeing California’s budgetary problems impact them significantly.

With respect to the euro zone and its problems, here are my latest blog comments.

See http://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/09/27/the-economic-tsunami-continues-its-relentless-and-unforgiving-advance-globally/#comment-1902

The worst is yet to come, during the balance of this decade; government efforts will prove futile; and it will get very ugly.

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5 02 2012
Robert Christopher

I can see that Higher Education will have short on-line courses for absorbing basic knowledge. When these have been passed, the student would be allowed to attend a campus course for more interesting and challenging work including discussions, workshops and, for scientists and engineers, lab work. It would mean attendees would know at least know the basics and should lead to better discussions. There could also be remedial courses, on an ad hoc basis, BEFORE the online modules ended so that slower students could keep up. This would help with keeping fixed costs down and success up. There could also be guidance on how wise it would be to pursue the subject to a higher level. This extra tailored tuition could be done using internal staff or approved freelance tutors.
Failure at the first stage would cost time more than money, and there would be an opportunity to remix the courses to be taken. You could still pocket a pass and not pursue that subject to a higher level. For example, this would be useful for those needing basic Maths but not wanting to do any more than needed!
This should also be done at 16 – 18 years old (in England, the Sixth Form) for part of the year, if only for practice! It could be done at the second half of the summer term, so school vacations could cover a longer period (and reduce the prices of holidays at peak times of the year! :) )
It would also reflect the changes in work patterns, with many companies allowing working from home for one or two days a week.

In England, The Open University has been doing much of this, without the Internet, for over 30 years!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_University

http://www.open-university.co.uk

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5 02 2012
Timothy D. Naegele

Thank you, Robert, for your comments.

First, inasmuch as children are learning to use computers at a very young age now, query whether traditional classroom education will be relevant—or necessary—at all in the future? Why spend money on “bricks-and-mortar” educational facilities?

Second, governments will not be able to support them. For example, in California with which I am very familiar, the State is effectively bankrupt, and so is the City of Los Angeles and other governmental organs. State funding may decline and then become nonexistent.

Third, as I have discussed in the article and comments above, with the use of YouTube and online conferencing, why is a college campus needed in the future? Indeed, I have felt for many years that offices are anachronisms. Companies, and certainly small companies, can have “virtual” existences online, and do today.

Fourth, the idea of paying professors to give the same lectures year after year is absurd. Give the lectures once, and record them, period. In the area of rapidly-changing subjects, again YouTube and online conferencing will suffice.

Fifth, newspapers and horses and buggies are testaments to bygone eras. College campuses may become relics of the past as well. Among other things, why waste scarce energy resources getting to them. Today, they are a waste of money; and this will be true to an even greater extent in the future.

Sixth, I have been online for about 20 years, since I bought my first Apple laptop, which is probably a museum piece now. I have three degrees, two of which are law degrees from Berkeley and Georgetown in the United States. I do not need to go to a college campus today for anything. Everything is online, at one’s fingertips.

Lastly, thanks for the links to the Open University. It seems interesting. :-)

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5 02 2012
Robert Christopher

Large parts of some courses might be done on line, but in many disciplines, such as Science, Engineering and Medicine, there is a need for people to be in the same room for discussions, work groups and lab work; and where better than a campus to do it! Video streaming may be possible in some circumstances but, for example, participating in a Low Temperature Physics experiment using a video link would not be feasible.

A half way house, as I suggested, would not be so futuristic and it would reduce costs because the foundation courses would be help students decide which of the more expensive campus courses would be appropriate to take. There would also be an opportunity to check out how things where going: the exam results and the views of the students, tutors and employers of the graduands would need to be assessed before the college campuses were knocked down or converted to something else!

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6 02 2012
Timothy D. Naegele

Thank you for your additional comments, Robert.

Again, pure economics will decide this, just as it did in the case of the demise of the horse and buggy, and now newspapers. If college campuses have any utility, they will be maintained, albeit in a much-scaled-back form. Otherwise, economics will dictate their elimination.

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1 05 2012
Timothy D. Naegele

Walking Away From Student Loans

An article in the Wall Street Journal entitled, “Trying to Shed Student Debt”—and subtitled, “Lawmakers Rethink Bankruptcy-Law Ban on Walking Away From Education Loans”—is worth reading:

The growth of student debt is stirring debate about whether the government should step in to ease the burden by rewriting the bankruptcy laws—again.

In 2005, Congress prohibited student debt from being discharged through bankruptcy, except in rare cases, because of concerns that many young graduates—who often have no major assets such as a house or a car—would be tempted to walk away from loan obligations.

Some lawmakers now want to temper that position, pointing to concerns that a significant number of Americans could be buried under education loans for decades. Their efforts, however, would apply only to private loans—a fraction of the market.

In the past decade student debt has surged as tuition and enrollment climbed. At the same time, college graduates’ earnings have declined.

. . .

Terri Reynolds-Rogers, a 57-year-old health-program manager from Palmer, Alaska, declared bankruptcy in 2007, but still has $152,000 in student debt. She said she dropped out of medical school in 1999 to care for her two children after her husband died of brain cancer.

Ms. Reynolds-Rogers’s lenders at one point garnished $950 a month from her wages when she fell behind in her payments. She works a second job as an adjunct instructor at the University of Alaska and expects to work well beyond retirement age. “It’s enslaving,” Ms. Reynolds-Rogers says of her student debt. “At a time I should be looking at the possibility of retirement sometime in the near future, I’m taking on another career if I’m lucky.”

. . .

The federal government now provides the bulk of student loans. Federal loans accounted for more than 90% of all student borrowing in the 2010-2011 academic year, according to the College Board. Nonfederal loans—including those issued by states, banks and credit unions—accounted for 7%. The government expanded its lending after the financial crisis drove up student borrowing costs. However, making federal loans easier to discharge through bankruptcy would be politically thorny, given that taxpayers would pick up the tab if those debts were shed. The Obama administration argues that government lends at lower interest rates than private lenders and is often more lenient about allowing borrowers to delay or adjust payments when they run into financial trouble. However, since the government caps how much money each student can borrow per year, many students take out a combination of public and private loans to fund their education.

. . .

[B]anking-industry groups, including the American Bankers Association and the Financial Services Roundtable, oppose the measure, saying it would tempt students to rack up big debt that they won’t repay. “The bankruptcy system would be opened to abuse,” the industry groups said in a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee last month.

. . .

Many college graduates are struggling keep up with their debt payments. About 27% percent of borrowers who have begun repaying their student loans are defined as delinquent, having at least one past-due student-loan account, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

As people defer or fall behind on their payments, the total amount they owe grows as interest accrues.

Tracy Paulsen, a 34-year-old lawyer from Wenham, Mass., said she recently moved in with her aunt, has put off marriage talk with her long-term boyfriend and depleted her individual retirement account—all so she can get a handle on more than $200,000 in student loans outstanding, most of which paid for law school. “It’s a noose around my neck that I see no way out of,” she said.

Ms. Paulsen has used an option to delay payment on much of her debt while the interest accrues, which has caused the total amount owed to balloon by tens of thousands of dollars. She has to start making payments within a year, and doesn’t know how she will do it.

See http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303978104577364120264435092.html?mod=WSJ_hps_sections_careerjournal; see also http://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2011/07/29/are-colleges-dinosaurs/#comment-1755 (“Debtors’ Prisons”)

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10 05 2012
Timothy D. Naegele

Online Education Is The Future, Period

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20 05 2012
Timothy D. Naegele

Education Will Change Radically

In response to my comments that online education is the future, one well-meaning but naïve commenter wrote:

NEVER be fooled by the idea that college education can be done online. Most basically, such study requires a great deal of self-discipline and independence—exactly what most college students nowadays DO NOT have. Most of a professor’s work involves keeping students from flunking themselves by adjusting teaching methods, assigning writing and reading it to make sure they did the reading and thought about it, etc. Most students can’t educate themselves without constant personalized feedback—and no online program will offer such constant personalized help without charging a lot of money for it. More important, you might be able to learn scientific and mathematical material from a book/screen, but learning anything remotely sophisticated in the humanities requires a constant question-answer interaction between teacher and students, as well as among students. Online material is a great supplement to classroom interaction—but a poor substitute by itself.

In turn, I responded:

First, economics alone is going to drive a dramatic shift to online education. More and more parents will not be able to afford a “bricks-and-mortar” college education as this decade unfolds, especially as State budgets strangle colleges and the Middle Class is decimated economically. Also, young kids are learning the Web at an ever-increasing rate. It is second nature to most of them already.

Second, a friend of mine’s wife has been teaching online for more than a decade, and doing so successfully. She is very skilled in her nursing specialty, having supervised approximately 150 nurses before she retired. Now, she is affiliated with a college in the Northeast; and there is constant interaction between her students and her. In fact, at lots of major colleges and universities, “teaching assistants” actually teach the students, not the “pampered” professors who limit their interaction with students to large lecture halls. Their work can be replaced by YouTube recordings of their lectures, to be replayed year after year.

Third, colleges and universities are not for everyone, and economics alone will dictate who attends and who does not. The truly-motivated will do so; others will drop by the wayside and not be coddled. Our education system will change dramatically and radically.

I agree with you: “[O]nline . . . study requires a great deal of self-discipline and independence—exactly what most college students nowadays DO NOT have.” They will be the losers . . . and the dropouts. Also, the “humanities” will be considered superfluous. Students will need some marketable skills, just to survive.

I served on two university boards of directors, and I will never forget being told by a PhD female biology professor that undergraduate education was not there to teach a marketable skill. This only happened in graduate schools. My response then, as it is now, was that parents cannot afford the extravagance of that lengthy educational process. This will be even more true during the rest of this decade.

We are in the midst of the “Great Depression II,” which economic historians will describe as such (or by using similar terms), 20-40 years from now. Like the Great Depression of the last century, which did not end until the onset of World War II at the earliest, this depression will not run its course until the end of this decade, or beyond. The effects will be devastating. Everything that many of us know and accept will be swept aside. The human suffering will be unfathomable worldwide.

Sweet “niceties” like student-teacher interaction, and the coddling of students, will become extravagances of a bygone era for most people. They will be trying to survive, and little more.

See, e.g., http://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/09/27/the-economic-tsunami-continues-its-relentless-and-unforgiving-advance-globally/#comment-2160 (see also the article itself, as well as the footnotes and other comments beneath it)

Hold on tight. Things will get very ugly during the balance of this decade . . . and education will not be spared!

If anything, this may be an understatement.

See also http://blogs.smartmoney.com/advice/2012/07/18/student-loans-sink-mom-and-dad/?link=SM_hp_ls4e (“Student Loans Sink Mom and Dad”)

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3 08 2013
Timothy D. Naegele

Drop In Number Of Students Accepting University Places

This is the title of an article in the UK’s Telegraph, which bears out what I wrote in the article above:

I served on the Board of Directors of the University of California, Santa Barbara Alumni Association, and as a Trustee of the UCSB Foundation, for a combined total of approximately ten years, overlapping the time that both of my kids and their spouses attended UCSB.

Tuition hikes were coming then, and I argued vehemently that they would price the Middle Class out of a University of California education. I am a product of the University of California system, having attended UCSB, UCLA and Berkeley for law school; and the Middle Class has been the backbone of the university. Needless to say, the cost hikes since I served on the UCSB boards have been even worse.

Also, the same thing has been happening with the law schools, yet law school graduates cannot find jobs today. What they do is load themselves up with massive student loans, and then are unemployed or forced to take menial jobs, and they default on the loans. It is “fraud” on the part of the law schools, because they keep touting the “value” of their education.

I had a “spirited discussion” about these issues with a very nice female UCSB professor, who was the “faculty adviser” to one of the boards on which I served; and I asserted that UCSB (and other UC schools) were not preparing undergrads for jobs, and that the job market for them would get even tighter. Her response was that if students want to be prepared for jobs, they would need to go to graduate schools. I essentially told her that was absurd because neither the students nor their parents could afford it, but this fact of life did not faze her one iota.

I expect before the end of this decade that one or more of the California State University campuses will close because of budgetary problems. Whether it happens with one of the UC campuses remains to be seen. This pattern will be repeated elsewhere in the United States, and in other countries.

See http://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2011/07/29/are-colleges-dinosaurs/ n.2 (citations omitted) and http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/10216357/Drop-in-number-of-students-accepting-university-places.html

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10 11 2013
Timothy D. Naegele

Political Correctness In Colleges And Universities

Ban political correctness

There is much to learn from George Orwell’s “Animal Farm,” which we are moving toward today with Barack Obama and his Democrats.

In the beginning, all animals were equal. However, as things evolved, the pigs became supreme; and dictated to the others, because they knew it all.

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Animal_Farm

Obamacare is a perfect example of this today, with other measures to come.

See http://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2013/03/01/is-obama-the-new-nixon/#comment-3138 (“Five Years In, Obama And Bush Poll Numbers Nearly Identical”) and http://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2013/03/01/is-obama-the-new-nixon/#comment-3174 (“Animal Farm In America: Authoritarian Lawlessness!”)

Also, our “institutions of higher learning” are more and more hewing to the party line of “political correctness,” which is utterly absurd and violates our basic tenets of freedom of speech and thought.

Orwell’s pigs would be proud.

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9 01 2014
Dale Spradling

Sir, you are guilty of assuming that Higher Ed and its customers are mayonnaise, i.e., one size fits all. For example, you are correct that for some students, online/MOOC programs represent the future of Higher Ed. However, the first results show that these programs work best for older students who have the discipline and the desire to overcome the limitations of online learning.

For your younger and more traditional students, however, online works best for the common-core “History of Rock “N” Roll” courses. But once they get into their major classes, particularly the more technical ones, online is a bust. Think about it. While I’m sure you had some duds during your face-to-face time at Boalt, but would you trade your experiences for some YouTube videos?

Dale

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9 01 2014
Timothy D. Naegele

Thank you, Dale, for your comments.

First, kids today are learning how to use computers, celllphones (e.g., text messages) and tablets almost as soon as they learn to do anything. There is a whole new world out there, in which parents are faced with the issue of “addiction” to such devices when the kids are very young.

Second, today’s online courses will be swept aside by courses that reach these kids, not “older” students.

Third, libraries as we know them will be replaced by online sources, which will be hastened because of budgetary constraints. Indeed, most law libraries are not renewing their hard-copy subscriptions anymore because everything is shifting to the online counterparts.

Lastly, I agree that my classroom experiences were priceless. However, today’s parents and kids may not have such luxuries, as they are priced out of traditional college educations. Indeed, I would respectfully suggest that “bricks-and-mortar” colleges are like newspapers and the horse and buggy: namely, they are anachronisms that will be considered irrelevant in the years to come.

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9 01 2014
Dale Spradling

First, I’m currently an accounting professor at a state university in Texas.

Second, my comments on face-to-face versus online for younger/traditional students come from recent empirical studies (some involving performance on the CPA exam) on this issue. While there are few who can handle studying complex professional/technical issues, the majority fare better in the face-to-face setting.

Third, younger students use of technology, e.g., smart phones, is ruining academic and professional experience. One bit of advice I give my students is to give up their smart phones and iPads so they can concentrate.

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9 01 2014
Timothy D. Naegele

Thank you again, Dale, for your comments.

First, I have no doubts about your sincerity or qualifications.

Second, the studies that you cite relate to “older” students. I know some lawyers with many years of experience who do not know how to use e-mail. Instead, the messages go to their secretaries and are transcribed; and the responses are dictated to the secretaries, and sent back over the Web.

Having been on the Web for more than 20 years, I never cease to be amazed by the ignorance of some people when it comes to relatively-simple technology. Indeed, I was on a semi-working vacation in Ireland more than 18 years ago; and I wrote a legal opinion for the CEO of a major American company while I was there.

I hiked in the mornings, and worked in the afternoons and early evenings; and research was sent from California through my secretary in Washington, D.C., who coordinated everything. The opinion was finished and in the hands of the CEO before I left Ireland; and I had to use dial-up connections to accomplish this.

Today, it is “duck soup” to do all of this; and young kids know it best.

Third, I agree with your third paragraph. However, classroom lectures can be put on YouTube (or its equivalent), and used year after year in many courses.

I am not making a value judgment that is at odds with your feelings. I am simply saying that pure economics and technology will push things in the direction that I am suggesting. Families will not be able to afford what you and I were privileged to experience.

Lastly, I concluded my article above by stating:

It is not surprising that the Washington Post‘s parent sold Newsweek magazine for $1, and kept the Kaplan online schools that have become increasingly “cash cows” for the company.

Since I wrote those words, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos purchased the Post for $250 million in cash, completing the transaction on October 1, 2013. It is my belief that the Graham family was smart in “dumping”—unceremoniously—both Newsweek and the Post.

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9 01 2014
Dale Spradling

I’m out of time today, but just fyi, the studies I mentioned were on traditional younger students. Simply put, online has its limitations when it comes to more complicated and technical material.

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