By Professor Doom
A recent posting about official government predictions of growth in our higher ed system by 2025, despite the fact that the vast bulk of our high school graduates already go to college today and we’ll have fewer people in that age group in 8 years, got me to thinking about the future of higher ed in the US.
Around 70% of high school graduates go to college right after graduation, and over 80% go eventually. The gentle reader really should consider the implications of this: if you’re in the 20th percentile of intelligence (roughly an IQ of 87, low enough to qualify for mentally disabled), you’re still college material…how much lower can we go? College graduate IQ is already below average, so I suspect we’re pretty close to the bottom as it is.
Growth in the student base at this point would be preposterous.
While I’ve often mentioned a possible collapse in higher ed in the US, I know this is something of a pipe dream. Even though there are now many videos on YouTube of gurus advising against going to college, against going deeply into debt for worthless degrees, it’s a simple fact that our kids are trained from near birth that college is an absolute necessity. Nothing anyone can say will change the great demand for it, even if the ending of the student loan scam (not quite a pipe dream, but not a near-reality) would close many, probably most, of our colleges and universities overnight.
So, we’ll still have them in 8 years, but how will they survive? What will they be doing with all that money? Unlike government predictions that as near as I can tell, are simply made up out of nothing, I like to have some empirical evidence.
I’ve written of the immense fraud of higher education in Australia before, and, again, a recent blog post gives me some reason to believe the corruption and debasement there is even more advanced than it is in the United States (I know, hard to believe, but if they’re paying their admin even more than the luxurious salaries admin here get, that’s at least a sign).
In addition to the excessive pay for bogus jobs, like the US, Australian higher ed is all about butts-in-seats, and they’re overbuilt. The latter concept is the most important: our institutions are massively overbuilt, thanks to huge construction sprees and an emphasis on online education, we have a system of
student loan money education more than sufficient for 150% of the
population to go to college. The building hasn’t slowed, but at some point,
they won’t keep building 100,000 capacity stadiums and won’t need yet another
administrative palace to build. I guess.
Catallaxyfiles often covers the fraud of Australian higher ed, and a recent posting gives an insight to the future of American higher ed:
And there’s my answer: marketing. For-profit institutions in the US already spend ridiculous amounts of money scraping the bottom of the barrel for suckers willing to sign up for student debt (University of Phoenix was spending $200,000 a day just on Google advertising before realizing there were no more kids to plunder).
Spam received 12/13/17:
Immediate Action Required
You now have approval to request to receive $5,920 via check and/or direct deposit.
You would just have to take few classes online.
The best part you don't have to pay any of this money back.
--the money referenced above is from the Pell Grant scam, fraudulent use of which supplies 25% to 70% of the student base for community colleges. What other business has so much of the customer base being fraud?
I already get a dozen spam mails a day from colleges and universities wanting me to sign up for “fast, convenient” degrees from campuses throughout the country, thanks to their “easy” online programs that nevertheless cost every bit as much as a brick-and-mortar degree despite the nearly no overhead to run such things.
This spam is just fallout from my research into higher ed; I had no choice but to say I was interested in higher education when I was investigating the massive, widespread fraud that is our higher education complex here. I accept this is my fault but…It’s going to get worse. It has to.
Most of our institutions have justified their huge construction projects, their legions of Vice Presidents of Debasement and Diversity, upon future growth. No growth means collapse. They need more students.
In the past, those students were readily supplied by the public school system, which advertised relentlessly on behalf of higher ed. Many of our public schools even boast just how many kids they screwed over by sending them off to college.
But all our schools need constant growth…growth that can’t happen because they’re already getting every kid that could conceivably benefit from higher ed, and a huge number of kids who cannot conceivably benefit from higher ed.
The mathematics of our population make it clear that not all institutions can grow…but some can.
The only way some of our public institutions can grow past this point is to cannibalize from each other, somehow getting kids not to go to the campus a few miles from where they live, and instead go to the campus 10 miles from where they live…or even further (I ask the gentle reader to consider how many colleges and universities are within a 50 mile radius; for me it’s over a dozen). There’s only one way to succeed in such cannibalization:
It’s the conclusion reached for Australia:
Given the existence of price controls universities cannot really compete on price. Given excessive regulation and TEQSA Australian universities cannot really compete on product differentiation, or product and process innovation. That leaves advertising and marketing.
The universities in the US might not have price restraints, but the student loan scam means most kids think the price is basically free until that nebulous day in the future after they graduate. As far as product differentiation, well, much of college coursework has no requirements as it is…hard to differentiate “nothing” from “nothing.”
I rather suspect the most “successful” institutions in the US in 2025 will be those that devote huge sums of money to their marketing departments, we might even start to see Super Bowl ads from State U (assuming football is still popular in 2025, not exactly a given at this point in time).
I know, the most popular advice given to kids about to hurt themselves in college education is “get a STEM degree,” but I have my doubts (the “M” in “STEM” is mathematics, and to judge by own career in mathematics, I wouldn’t call it exactly stellar). Besides, the only reason STEM is of some value is scarcity…not everyone can master the half dozen or so books necessary to get a degree in these fields.
But, look, marketing is going to be the big deal for higher education. For the many kids who honestly can’t cut it in a STEM degree (and there’s no dishonor in that), might I suggest marketing? At the very least, it should offer more of a chance at life than yet another Gender Studies degree…
That said, it saddens me that we’ve poured a few trillion dollars into higher education, with the end result that, in the future, most of higher education money will be spent, not on education, but on commercials, billboards, and spam.