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As college graduates around the country fling their caps into the air, college and university administrators are ending the year in a less positive state. It has been a tough year for higher education in America, and it's not especially likely that next year will be a lot better. As an industry, higher education is beset with problems, problems that for the most part aren't being addressed.
education is headed. It's not clear at all that its leaders appreciate the depth of the problem.
Higher ed becoming a joke
have been turned away by rabid student protests, mocked here by Yale Law's Stephen Carter.
The decline in enrollment seems to be slowing, but the long term problem remains: With costs growing, and post graduation incomes stagnant or worse, students (and parents) are growing more reluctant to take on the extensive debt that is required to attend many private, and some public, institutions.
One set of problems is economic. With tuitions climbing, and graduates' salaries stagnant, students (and parents) are becoming less willing to pay top dollar. This has caused some schools especially expensive private institutions that lack first class reputations to face real hardships. Yeshiva University's bonds have been downgraded to the status of junk. Credit downgrades have also hit several elite liberal arts colleges. Other private schools, such as Quinnipiac College, are actually laying off faculty. Georgetown in Kentucky cut faculty by 20%.
Then there's the race hysteria. Just last week, students at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota canceled a "Hump Day" celebration featuring a camel because New Balance Shoes Yellow someone thought the camel signified racism against Muslims. (Yes, Muslims aren't a race, but that doesn't matter, apparently.) We make fun of Victorians for substituting the term "limbs" for the too racy word "legs," and for supposedly covering table legs with cloth, but our own era is prone to similar over delicacy, and campuses supposedly centers of critical thought seem to be the worst offenders.
It's gotten so bad that schools are even closing their gender studies centers, a once sacrosanct kind of spending.
That sums it up pretty well. Though the claim that one in five women on campus is sexually assaulted is pretty clearly bogus as Bloomberg's Megan McArdle notes, it includes things like sexual touching over clothes, which hardly constitute rape it's widely repeated, and that surely makes young women a bit less enthusiastic about attending. Then all the responses involving, basically, kangaroo courts that strip male students charged with sexual assault of all due process protection don't make campuses more appealing to male students, who are already an under represented minority on most campuses.
It's no picnic for public institutions either. "There have been 21 downgrades of public colleges and universities this year but no upgrades," reported Inside Higher Ed. New Balance Red Lion
Jim Koch, chairman and founder of Boston Beer Co., maker of Samuel Adams Beer, third from right, appears with New England College of Business President Howard Horton, second from right, and a Samuel Adams impersonator , fourth from left, as he toasts the graduating class of 2014 following commencement exercises in Boston on Saturday.(Photo: Gretchen Ertl, AP Images for New England College of Business)
Industries with bad reputations face declining markets and more regulation. At this rate, that's where higher New Balance Pink And Purple
American colleges are fraught with petty politics and bad economics.
Dartmouth cancelled a charitable fund raising "fiesta" because one student complained that the word "fiesta" was racist. And going beyond race, commencement speakers, ranging from Condi Rice at Rutgers to Christine LaGarde at Smith, New Balance Vongo Womens
Even fancy schools such as Harvard and Dartmouth have seen , with Dartmouth's dropping 14% last year, a truly staggering number.
That is only made worse by the decline in higher education's image, damage that is mostly self inflicted. As Twitter wag IowaHawk japes: "If I understand college administrators correctly, colleges are hotbeds of racism and rape that everyone should be able to attend."
From the economics to the politics, colleges and universities are looking less like serious places to improve one's mind and one's prospects, and more like expensive islands of frivolity and, sometimes, viciousness. And that is likely to have consequences.
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