15.2.11

THE COLLEGE BUBBLE, MADE IN WASHINGTON.  Cold Spring Shops's Favorite Administrator gets to the heart of the matter.
[For-profit college] enrollments soared, their profitability went through the roof, and investors rushed to get in on a good thing. The market capitalization of the for-profit sector of higher education shot up to dizzying heights. Much of the growth was due to the efficient way in which for-profit colleges and universities signed up students for federally guaranteed student loans. As a whole, the sector didn’t much concern itself with the academic preparation of its prospective students. Federal loan eligibility was the key to admission.
A bubble it might be, but legacy higher education ignores the non-profits at its own risk.
Liberal education has no real stake in the success of those corporations that draw a tidy profit from convincing marginal students to sign up for federal loans. There may be a good social welfare case for that practice. I leave that for others to decide. But liberal education does have a stake in finding ways to carry on in a culture that is largely hostile to its purposes and in an institutional setting that is increasingly vulnerable to public disaffection.
Perhaps so, but liberal education ought revert to its core content.

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