3 thoughts on “How To Fix Higher Ed”

  1. Make colleges liable for loans given to students who don’t graduate or get a job outside of their field of study and things will improve, assuming subsidies are also reduced so that the colleges feel the market.

    The price of a good or service will always try and rise to the base subsidy plus whatever someone is willing and able to pay.

    When college was cheaper, occupational outcomes didn’t matter so much and when standards were higher, people did become well rounded. Now, the occupational outcomes do matter and the students are not well rounded.

  2. My alma mater is Purdue University, where I graduated in 1978 with my BSME, and received my MSME in 1983 (long story: I left in 1980 to start work, and finished my Master’s thesis in absentia in 1983). I was an out-of-state student for my BSME, and tuition wasn’t cheap. I worked throughout my undergrad, and never had a student loan. My Master’s was paid for by an AFOSR research contract on which I worked.

    Even back then, the administrative overhead for a Purdue research contract was 66%. It sounds astonishing, since many institutions today don’t have that kind of overhead. Purdue was a special case, IMHO. It has contributed, and continues to contribute, more knowledge in more fields than most people know, and its students are among the stars in every scientific and engineering field. Just as an example, the Manhattan Project got all of its isotope cross-section data from Purdue, along with the terms “barn” and “shake” for area and time, respectively. There’s an operating nuclear reactor on campus that for the most part, only the nuke engineering and physics students know about.

    I was back there in 2020 to receive an award, and was dumbfounded by the changes in the campus – and the quality of the students. They make me and my classmates look like idiots, even though we were the best of the best back then. The night after the awards banquet, we had breakfast in the brand new Armstrong Hall – a breathtaking new aeronautical engineering building where undergrad students were working on projects that look like science fiction even now. We even toured my old stomping grounds, the Zucrow Labs. In my day it was the Thermal Sciences and Propulsion Center, or TSPC. One of my favorite professors, J.R. Osborn, used to call it the Thermal Sciences Prevention Center. In any event, the kind of research programs going on there now dwarfs anything we ever did. They have, for example, the only “quiet” hypersonic wind tunnel in the Western Hemisphere. My wife (also a rocket propulsion engineer and Purdue alum) used to contract with Zucrow when she was with Northrop Grumman, and always speaks highly of the quality of product they delivered.

    The only Purdue school I’m not sure about is the Krannert School of Management, their business school. It was always an alien place to the rest of us, and I don’t really know how woke they ever got. But I’m convinced that a Purdue education in every other field is still worthwhiile.

  3. The really scary thing is a notion that everyone should go to college and get an engineering degree.

    Maybe an exaggeration, but there are people thinking along the lines that we can teach engineering to anyone if we up our teaching game.

Comments are closed.