Higher Ed: Adapt or die

By Christopher Harper

Covid-19 may have created a perfect storm when it comes to higher education, creating an opportunity to take a good, hard look at a college education.

In the past 30 years, the cost of an undergraduate degree has tripled at public schools and more than doubled at private schools, adjusting for inflation. At a four-year, private institution, tuition and room and board averaged $46,950 in 2018. Four-year public colleges charged an average of $20,770 a year for tuition, fees, and room and board. For out-of-state students, the total went up to $36,420.

At roughly the same time, the Federal Reserve estimated that the cost of a college education increased eight times the percentage of wages.

Simply put, the ratio between the cost of a college education and a job is way out of balance.

That equation doesn’t take into account the massive debt that students have amassed as a result of the increased costs.

It’s worth noting that in Pennsylvania, which would be relatively representative of many states, the losses faced by universities have little to do with the classroom. Instead, the losses involve housing, sports, and conferences. Maybe universities should stick to the core mission of educating students and get out of these other businesses. See https://www.inquirer.com/education/coronavirus-stimulus-dollars-penn-state-temple-rutgers-rowan-st-joes-widener-cuts-money-20200420.html

What can be done about the cost of higher education?

The amount of money spent on faculty has decreased over the past few decades as universities hire more adjuncts who receive lower pay and often no benefits.

At the same time, the number of non-teaching personnel on campus, with several administrators at top universities making six-figure salaries with fringe benefits and secretarial support. About two-thirds of university budgets have nothing to do with teaching but instead go toward dormitories, facilities, marketing, and student health.

At Temple University in Philadelphia, where I teach, I have seen a vast expansion of vice deans, assistant deans, associate deans, directors, and assistants to the above over the past 15 years. I don’t know what many of them do, and none of them have visited my classroom.

Higher education will have to expand its offerings of online courses at reduced rates after students and their parents saw that classes could be delivered relatively effectively. That means that faculty will have to come to grips with providing online instruction.

The discussions I have had with faculty about online teaching remind me of my former colleagues in the news business who ignored the implications of the internet more than 20 years ago.

Simply put, colleges and universities must adapt or die.

Nobody’s Talking about the NYC Witches Anymore The Unexpectedly Chronicles

Yesterday in my Under the Fedora column I joked that all of this Corona Virus, Wuhan Virus, CCP Virus stuff could be because some Redsox fan made a deal with the Devil who promised that by May 1st the Redsox would be undefeated and the Yankees would yet to have win a game. That reminded me of something I meant to write about a week ago that I mentioned in the podcast last week

Remember back at the start of the Trump Administration there were a bunch of stories about Witches in New York all Hexing Donald Trump. If you do a google search of it you can find stories like this:

Most of Donald Trump’s opponents believe they will have to wait four more years to see him leave the White House.

But America’s witches are more optimistic.

At the stroke of midnight on Friday, followers of witchcraft across the US performed a mass spell designed to stop the president doing harm.

A Facebook group devoted to the ritual has attracted over 10,500 likes, and coined the hashtag #magicresistance.

Or this

Groups of witches across the country are preparing to cast a coordinated “binding spell” on President Donald Trump on October 25. It will be their third concerted attempt to make the magic happen.

The witches refer to themselves as the #MagicResistance, and they first attempted to bind the the President with magic in 2017, according to the Boston Globe, and they have attempted it annually since then. The group’s other events have included binding Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, and “Hex the NRA.” (RELATED: Witches Now Outnumber Presbyterians In The US)

Now you might not be a Christian or believe in witches but given the events of the last month don’t you think it’s odd that reporters who thought this was so cool and so wonderful aren’t following up with any of these people to ask: “Hey Trump’s numbers are doing better but the country is in the grip of a pandemic, do you feel at all responsible for this?”

I think it’s a valid question and I’ve love to hear the answer on this, but the press will never bother with it because as long as they are the media’s allies in their fight against Trump, as interesting as this story might be, nobody is the press is going to write it

Unexpectedly of course.

Update: Related?