Saturday, November 22, 2008

Edumacation in jebbardy!

Last night on NBC Nightly News, they aired a very disturbing report. It's basically a story and statistics about how the credit crunch and the economy is adversely affecting higher education.

This is happening to colleges across the country. Oral Roberts University will lay off about 100 employees, roughly 10% of their workforce (although part of their problem apparently stems from misuse of funds, and corruption). Harvard announced last week that a research service is projecting a 30% decline in university endowments in the current fiscal year, and that Harvard needs to prepare to absorb that loss and plan for a time of financial restrictions. As stated in the video, Frostburg State in Maryland is experiencing difficulty in paying student financial aid, and California State may not be able to accommodate 10,000 students due to layoffs and increased costs of maintenance and operation.

It is affecting community colleges as well. CC's have always been a great option as a stepping stone to a Bachelor degree, for those students who need to get their grades up a bit, or those who can't afford to go to a university right away. Community college enrollment is up 8%, with many students seeing it as a way to cut costs for a Bachelor degree, and with many members of the workforce entering for retraining. It's only a matter of time before requirements tighten as more and more people try to get into community colleges.

I had never really thought about how the credit crunch might affect higher education, but it makes sense. It becomes pervasive, spreading throughout not just the business sector, but all aspects of our economy. I find this particular incarnation of our troubles disturbing on many levels. At a time when we need to grow more competitive and educated rather than less, it's becoming harder and harder for people to obtain that education. Community college has been a great way to cut the cost of a degree, whether Associate or Bachelor or higher, and it bothers me that it's becoming harder and harder to receive those degrees.

Everything indicates that it's likely that we'll lose even more jobs in the coming's getting harder and harder to find other employment as more jobs are eliminated, and for those who want to retrain and find a new profession, they could have a hard time doing even that. I try not to be bleak or pessimistic, but as someone who believes strongly in higher education, I find it very bothersome that it's becoming farther out of reach rather than more attainable. We need to be going in exactly the opposite direction, and how awful that the current situation might delay or even prevent someone from achieving their goal.

It's bad enough that there is a certain element in our country these days that sees no use for further education, or thinks that anyone who pursues such a goal is "getting above their place." It's vital that we get away from that sort of backwards elitism and understand that a degree is desirable and worthwhile (and becoming increasingly essential). Now add to that the possibility that many more people may not be able to attend college because of staffing cutbacks and credit contraints, and you've got a recipe for disaster.

I hope we see a turnaround soon for many reasons, including people being able to find good employment at a decent wage, but one of the most important reasons (at least to me) is so that anyone who has the desire to further their education can do so. The alternative makes me very sad.


  1. I wouldn't call it elitism, I think stupidity would be better. I am glad Emily chose Nursing, no matte what people will always get sick and need care.


  2. My son (age 37) is currently taking evening and on line classes at our local CC inorder to change professions. His desire is the IT tech field. He's been a journeyman press operator at a large printing firm here in town since 1993 but is sick of printing. At least he's not quitting his present job until he's finished with his classes and has found another job in his chosen field. Hopefully the printing company will make it thru the economic down turn. I think now more than ever, kids in high school need to buckle down & get very good grades, so they can get into college. With the cut backs in secondary education~colleges will become very selective on who they admit. Linda in Washington

  3. Hi Beth,
    There's also a flip side. There have also been reports -- and there's evidence to back it up -- that during a recession, a lot of executives go back to school. If you're going to get "let go" and jobs at your level are hard to come by, might as well go back to school and get an advanced degree. At least that's the mindset of a lot of people.

  4. It's just a scary situation all the way round!

  5. To have people downplay the value of a college education in this day of age is, as Claudia said, stupidity.

  6. So upsetting. Education is so important. I pray everyday that the economy will turn around and our country will get back on will take time and we of course are all so anxious and rightfully to feel the way we do. We are all scared.

    Hugs, Rose

  7. I am in school, but I go online at University of Phoenix. When I have had job interviews, they are impressed that I am attending school online as it takes disipline and dedication to do this. There is no one stand over you telling you to do your work. At University of Phoenix it is $8840 a year. It is cheaper than a lot of schools online or in the real world. I am learning a lot and the teachers I have work in the feilds that they teach in, so I can ask real world questions as well....

  8. Many institutions of higher education also depend upon charitable giving for portions of their funding, and often entire programs are based on gifts from benefactors and donors. Miss G is all too aware of how charitable giving seems to dry up when the economy gets tough!

  9. I just had a conversation with a friend last night about the domino effect of our eceonomic woes. It's dark and scary.

  10. I think your worries mirror mine ... but this economy is cutting thing finely either side you line up on. Shudder to think what is going to be available for children and grandchildren, as far as opportunity to upward mobility.

  11. I feel badly for the kids. A lot of kids won't be getting student loans because of the credit crunch.

    Enjoy your day tomorrow.

  12. "No Child Left Behind"

    The next phase of our Childrens future! :(

    I hold hope in my heart that we together can make the differnce, and persuade our leaders to care less about their pockets, and more for the children.

    Please have a good day tomorrow.


  13. Meg is at school on a prayer right now...she could tell you first hand how bad it is getting at a state college. The community college in my city has the highest enrollment EVER....and it is affordable so for some places the economy downturn may be a good thing..this place teaches all kinds of classes like semi truck driving, certified welding and police officer training. X0

  14. It's very real and scary to say the least. NY is going to be making major cuts in what else? Education and healthcare. God forbid if our elected officials take a pay cut to divy up the difference. NO It's more crucial to keep the above average income and exploit the masses where it hurts most. Paul is worried what this might mean for his job. The sad thing is there are people that work at his school that don't give a damn, they are just sitting out their tenor. And you have someone who loves what he does and is dedicated. Who do you think will go first. I would say the world is definitely upside down. (Hugs)Indigo

  15. Did you see where they are trying to get Obama people in place to see if they can do anything they can to try to help the economy right away. My child hood was actually in the big depression and even though I was born in 1`929 I remember some very lean times.

  16. Too many people are concerned with
    their own "present" to think about
    our nations future, our children and
    grandchildren. If they are to have
    quality of life, they must have higher
    education or skilled training.
    Good post, Beth. You Go, girl. Pat

  17. This hits home with us. Andrew chose Ivy Tech CC because it is a very good school that works closely with IUS and because it's so much less expensive than the universities. So far, they still have a very high rating when it comes to their faculty and their students, and I hope the economy doesn't change that.


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