By Liz Willen
When veterans come home from war and try to put their lives back together, there's often a giant missing link in their transition: Clear advice on getting back to school and managing the next phase of their education.
"Where you are going next is a huge hole in the system, and there is no entity in the community to help them figure out where to start,'' Pamela Tate, president and CEO of CAEL (Council for Adult and Experiential Learning), said at a hearing on educating veterans in Washington D.C. last week. "They don't know where they should go to school, what they should study and what careers are there for them.''
A bilateral security agreement between the U.S. and Afghanistan could allow for a lasting presence of troops there through 2024, sending even more veterans into limbo.
That means the road to higher education will remain fraught with challenges for U.S. veterans, some two million men and women who have or will return from Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere in the next few years.
It's a sad state of affairs for a country that educated about 10 million returning veterans after World War II - including three U.S. presidents, three Supreme Court justices, 14 Nobel Prize winners and 24 Pulitzer Prize winners.
The GI bill of 1944 transformed U.S. higher education with benefits allowing veterans to attend any institution that admitted them. The bill helped support spouses and children and offered preparation for vocational careers in construction, auto mechanics and electrical wiring, among others.
In recent years, the revamped Post-9/11 GI bill has provided financial aid to veterans and their families, including reservists and National Guard members - but critics say it does not go far enough to ease the transition home.
"When you leave the military, you are on an island by yourself,'' said James Selbe, the key advisor for advocacy and support of military, veterans and their family members at University of Maryland University College.
Today's veterans often have difficulty accessing their benefits, and may end up wandering around campuses looking for someone who can help them transfer credits, register for classes or provide career advice. They are not represented at many elite colleges.
Some are finding themselves deep in debt due to predatory lenders; others scammed by for-profit colleges that lure them in - and don't deliver what they've promised. Earlier this month, the Federal Trade Commission warned veterans to be cautious before choosing a for-profit school; at one point some 22 percent of veterans chose the for-profit route.
"They may want to use your Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to boost their bottom line and may not help you achieve your educations goals," the commission cautioned.
In California, colleges are finding that benefits don't go far enough. Campuses are stretched as they try to give veterans the help they need and deserve, said Patrick O'Rourke, director of veteran affairs services for the office of the chancellor at California State University, where the VetNet program provides veteran services and support.
"What we do in California for our veterans comes out of our pockets,'' O'Rourke said. In a recent visit to centers on two California college campuses, O'Rourke discovered crushing workloads and staff members overwhelmed just trying to connect veterans with simple answers about using their benefits.
Tate, O'Rourke and Selbe of UMUC were among panelists at "Success After Service: Improving Postsecondary Education for Veterans,'' a discussion that took place in Washington D.C. earlier this month in honor of Veterans Day.
The discussion came some three months after President Barack Obama signed new legislation that asks colleges to boost efforts to help veterans get to and through college. The Lumina Foundation, which is among the various funders of The Hechinger Report, sponsored the panel.
Tate of CAEL said too many veterans don't know where to go to school, how to get credit for prior learning or work experience and what careers are available to them.
They also often struggle to find answers for their unique range of issues - everything from transferring credits to studying full-time while supporting a family to post-traumatic stress and physical injuries.
What most need is career training that looks at what skills they have - and which ones they need, said Selbe, of UMUC.
"Historically at UMUC they come not to get a job, but to get the next job,'' Selbe said. "So from a career services perspective that's where our efforts have been, but with the economy taking a dive and vets coming back in increasing numbers, it has not been the case. We didn't have the capacity or skill set to let vets navigate their way through.''
UMUC now trains those who work in career services in the unique needs of veterans, Selbe said - a bright spot in the growing recognition of the continuing obstacles veterans face.
It's important for hopeful signs to start outnumbering the obstacles - especially as the number of veterans and their families seeking higher education continues to grow.
Here are a few other hopeful signs for veterans and their education:
- More than 250 community colleges and universities in 24 different states and D.C. signed on to Obama's "8 Keys to Success,'' program, aimed at helping veterans and military families afford and complete their college degrees, certificates, industry-recognized credentials and licenses and prepare them for jobs.
- Since 2009, more than one million veterans, service members and their families have received tuition assistance and other benefits from the post-9/11 GI bill.
- Foundations in some cases are stepping in to fill the void. The Robert R. McCormick Foundation, for example, has a new initiative to help Chicago area veterans, as does CAEL.
Reprinted by the permission of the Hechinger Institute.
Dwight School, a 141-year-old independent International Baccalaureate (IB) World School located on Manhattan's Upper West Side, received a 2013 Blackboard Award for Schools recognizing excellence in education, with a special citation for community service and citizenship.
This week, Dwight Chancellor Stephen Spahn accepted the award at a ceremony attended by Chancellor of the New York City Department of Education Dennis Walcott and NYC Council Member and Manhattan Borough President-elect Gale Brewer.
"This is an honor for Dwight, made even more special because we're being recognized for community engagement.
Community is one of the three pillars of a Dwight education, alongside personalized learning and global vision. At Dwight, we're dedicated to creating thoughtful global citizens and the next generation of innovative global leaders, and we believe that leadership begins close to home. In this case, just across Central Park," said Chancellor Spahn.
Dwight was recognized for the innovative community partnership the School forged with the 1199 Housing Corporation, owner of the East River Landing cooperative in East Harlem. Located at First Avenue and 108th the coop was home to a recreational facility that lay dormant for 17 years because shareholders were unable to afford its upkeep.
Dwight School, in search of expanded athletic facilities, envisioned the possibilities for this untapped resource. Rather than raise millions of dollars through a capital campaign to build a sports facility, Dwight refurbished the 40,000-square-foot center to bridge community boundaries, bringing shared value to both Dwight students and the 6,500 coop residents who now use the Dwight School Athletic Center for free. With a 25-yard indoor pool, regulation-size high school gym, two roof-top tennis courts, a weight room and more, the facility, which opened in June, is quickly becoming a vibrant center for health, fitness, and youth leadership programs benefitting many thousands of New Yorkers.
"I am delighted that Dwight has re-opened the space for use by East Harlem community residents," said Chancellor Spahn, the longest-serving school leader in New York City. "I am equally delighted that we can provide our students with the facilities they need to excel in sports. In fact, our goal is to help students excel in whatever pursuit they choose, from athletics to the arts, and from technology to youth service leadership. We call this 'igniting the spark of genius in every child'."
Dwight School graduates attend leading colleges and universities around the world, including Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford, MIT, Oxford.
Founded in 1872, Dwight (www.dwight.edu) was the first school in the US to offer the comprehensive International Baccalaureate curriculum for students from preschool through grade 12. It is the flagship campus of The Dwight Schools, a global network of programs and campuses in London, Seoul, Beijing, and on Vancouver Island. #
By Joan Baum, Ph.D.
Linda Sirow, who has a piece in a juried show at the Richard D'Amato Gallery in Sag Harbor, New York, continues to impress with her lovely abstract encaustics. The competition, a benefit for The Retreat, a well-known shelter for abused women and children on the East End of Long Island, drew 200 applications from all over the world from artists working in various media. Of course, Sirow is pleased that her work was one of 25 selected submissions, and delighted that 100 percent of the entry fees go directly to support the work of this important organization. And how serendipitous that Sirow gets major attention at the top of the stairs of the two-floor gallery, and that the piece is next to nothing else like it around .
The colorful 24" x 24" square of layered oil and beeswax on wood is called "Two Step" because she felt a kind of "dance-like" movement guiding her when she was painting it, she says, a sense that helped determine the placement of her signature slightly open circles. Indeed, "Two Step" exudes a kind of pulsing luminescence that suggests interacting images slightly in motion, nothing fixed--a bit like her life, which at one point she describes as having "so many moving parts," some not as readily apparent as others. A close look at "Two Step" reveals a subtlety of form and technique: solid circles and one-inch perimeters that have been painted over and sit under the bolder circular brushstrokes, and with slight gouge-like indentation that creative depth. For those following the evolving work of this decorative artist, who also teaches art at Dalton Middle School, "Two Step" may seem bolder than usual, though Sirow still keeps to a restricted palette-here, a warm assemblage of shimmering yellows, pinks, mauves, and corals under thin lines of cooler hues-slashes of blue or green that subtly contrast with the overall pastel effect.
Over the years Sirow has found herself increasingly attracted to encaustic, or hot wax painting, and likes to experiment with its layering effects, noting that between oil and wax, the relationship can never be 50 / 50-one or the other must predominate and for her, the winner is wax. Why circles? She smiles, she likes the geometry-circles and squares-- though she adds that she has also been looking at aboriginal work in Australia where dots and circles--folk patterns and symbols--constitute much of the art. She has also been looking at related work online, and she sometimes finds herself attracted to craft items, such as bowls she saw recently that were made out of knitted string, whose textured quality seemed consonant with her own predilections.
Her openness to creative impulses affects her teaching as well, where she encourages her students to see that working in clay is more than throwing on a wheel. A recent assignment included having her middle-school students bring in found materials--wire, objects--to include in their clay sculptures in a way that would enhance appreciation of repetition and form. One student, however, for whatever reason, was averse to working in clay and wanted to use crayons, melting them with a hot glue gun. Since the girl was going to explore the idea of the assignment, anyway Sirow supported her desire to do something different. The result was an "interesting" sculpture that had been built out of melted colored crayons originally formed into Lincoln-log-like shapes-an imaginative take on the assignment. More significantly, the girl had been led to pursue a "passion" for and "excitement" about art. The finished piece gave the girl a "confidence" that followed her into high school.
So much of the education world now succumbs to curricular cut backs, and the first areas to go are always art, Sirow understandably laments. But when you cut away creative endeavor, it's hard, if not impossible, to go back and resurrect it later in life. Conversely, when it's there, and encouraged, it's there forever, even if not immediately recognizable. Her own oldest son, who had always loved drawing, now works in the financial world and evaluates business ventures "creatively." His visual art experiences in high school paid off, and he is now also involved with nonprofits in the arts. Needless to say, Linda Sirow loves her work at Dalton where for close to 20 years, she preaches what she practices and continues to practice what she loves.#
This session is for adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), their spouses, and parents of children with ADHD.
When: 6 Thursdays, Jan 16-Feb 20, 7-9 pm,
Entry fee: $300/$350
With Dr. Mark Bertin
Developmental Pediatrician and Author of The Family ADHD Solution
ADHD affects the quality of people's lives in a myriad of ways including increased stress levels, struggles at work and school, and challenges in personal relationships. Recent research shows that mindfulness meditation and related stress-reduction techniques may improve executive function and attention, reduce stress, promote cognitive flexibility in problem solving, foster emotional well-being, and mitigate ADHD effects through enhanced self-awareness and self- regulation. Each session of this class includes mindfulness exercises taught in a manner suitable for those with attention issues as well as those new to meditation. The class will also include education about ADHD, from the neuroscience to the impact on day-to-day life.
The event is co-sponsored by the ADD Resource Center.
Movie Review by Jan Aaron
Before you get the mistaken impression that Geography Club is a about a nerdy high school group that studies the shape of the earth, it's not that at all: Goodkind High School's Geography Club is a secret society with a name so nerdy it keeps the curious away. It's actually a group of teens trying to figure out their place in the social terrain.Geography Club, based on the first novel in Bret Hartinger's critically acclaimed best selling Russel Middlebrook series is a smart, funny film adapted for the screen by twin filmmakers, the Entin brothers- Gary (director) and Edmund (writer). The film will open in 15 cities across the United States, on November 15, and at the same time will be available on select cable and Internet platforms.
The teens' objective is to use their seemingly boring club no one will want to join where they can hang out and just be themselves without enduring the fitting in struggle of virtually everyone's high school experience. Their goal is to find out who they really are.
The movie's hero is gay - a gay athlete in love with the captain of the football team, who also is gay? This is not to mineralize the conflict in this film: the team captain in fact struggles to reconcile his sexual orientation with his "identity" as a school jock. In the 90's, the film might have centered on the jock's struggling to find acceptance in a narrow-minded community, it's now about accepting yourself. The filmmakers have said they were not making a film to that shocked or enraged, but one that entertained. They hope to define the new normal in teen life.
This is story about a teen group who step out of the box to be themselves. You should definitely step into a theater to enjoy yourself.
By Lisa K. Winkler
The five clocks on the wall above Youth Communication's door are set to the same time. Unlike clocks representing time zones around the world found in professional newsrooms and hotel lobbies, these clocks show the time in New York City's boroughs: The Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island.
Next to the door stands an overloaded bookcase; its shelves teeming with titles written by some of nearly 3,000 alumni of Youth Communication's teen journalism programs. Writers who've participated in YC's programs include the novelist Edwidge Danticat, and Rachel Swarns, newspaper reporter and author.
Founded by Keith Hefner (see photo on right) in 1980, Youth Communication produces two teen-written magazines: YCteen, for secondary school students, and Represent, by youth in foster care. Through personal essays, teens share their stories about issues other teens want to read about. Creating what Hefner calls "service journalism," YC's original goal was to dispel the media images of urban teens as wanton and violent. "We also wanted to show kids the world beyond their block, and how they could overcome the challenges they faced and transform their lives," said Hefner.
From the magazines, printed on newsprint, YC's products grew to include more than 30 anthologies, created from teen articles, that include titles such as "Real Jobs, Real Stories," "Teen Guide to Sex (without regrets)," and "Vicious: True Stories by Teens about Bullying." Following the books, YC produced leader guides for teachers, counselors and other supervisors of youth programs to assist them in using the stories with their teens. Each magazine sponsors an essay writing contest each issue that attracts entries nationwide. The magazines, and several of the anthologies, have won top awards from the Association of Educational Publishers.
Hefner began advocating for youth voices when he was a teen himself in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
"It was the late 1960's. There was no Internet; no Facebook. There were thousands of teens publishing underground newspapers around the country. We'd get stacks of them and shuffle them and then send out packs to the editors so they would know what everyone else was doing. From that, we started a newsletter for teen activists," he said, referring to two friends who helped him.
When he moved to NY in 1979, he realized his newsletter readers were now adults; many were working in youth programs and subscribed to keep in touch with youth issues and to use the stories with teens in their programs. This evolution is similar to the challenges YC faces today with its programs and products.
"We're no longer just a youth journalism program," he said. Though YC remains committed to teaching students writing, essays may go through up to 10 draft; the focus has shifted to serving educators as people, especially youth, read less.
"It used to be we'd produce a magazine with a great cover and headlines and students would automatically read it. Our books were often the most stolen from classrooms," said Hefner, but now, kids aren't reading on their own, at all." Bundles of magazines would go left unopened on school doorsteps. But when the magazine or books were delivered directly to a teacher who then assigned the readings, students read non-stop.
"We realized we needed to market to the adults working with the kids," he said. There are currently 690 teachers who order bulk copies of YCteen. (It's free, because The New York Times donates the printing.) They use it to teach reading and writing, and in counseling settings. For example, some teachers use the YC materials to help introduce thematic units, or linked text sets. One teacher, Hefner recalled, recently used YC stories to introduce themes of family relationships in a unit that also included the Arthur Miller play, "Death of a Salesman." YC already provides free Common Core-linked lesson plans that accompany YCteen magazine, and the staff hopes to assist teachers in linking more YC materials to curriculum requirements in the future. #
BY RICHARD KAGAN
Stuyvesant H.S. has been ranked the top public high school in a recent NY Post Poll. The school has close to 3200 students. The teacher to class ratio is 21:1. Ninety-five percent graduate on time; ninety-eight percent plan to enroll in college. Students spend extra time preparing for college prep exams. In fact the Post claimed in a recent article that Stuyvesant H.S. was the "most coveted, specialized school, a perennial top performer whose brainy students shine in the Intel Science Talent Search, as well as writing contests as many move on the Ivy League."
I spoke with some football coaches at a recent game with Bryant H.S. and they said there were more students interested in the math club, debate club, or the handball team. One hundred fifty students tried out for the handball squad. About 40 students came out for football.
And, according to Francisco Rivera, the Junior Varsity (JV) head coach, many players had not played organized football before they joined the JV team, which features freshman and sophomores. The Varsity team is comprised of mostly juniors and seniors and most experienced players play both offense and defense.
The Peg Legs, the nickname for the football team, are doing just fine and opening some eyes along the way. They won their fourth straight game, a 30-8 decision over Bryant H.S. that was really never in doubt. After the game, Mark Strasser, head coach of Stuyvesant said, "We took one more step getting better as a team." Last year they finished deep in the Public School Athletic League playoffs. This year, they want to be champs. Strasser said of his squad: "These kids are really bright. They just don't have one focus. They are taking classes, and preparing for SAT's and they play football."
Cooper Weaver, one of the top players on the Peg Legs has his Mom in his corner. She said," He loves it." It's his passion. I'm behind him 100 percent." Weaver, according to Coach Strasser is the "heart & soul" of the team. Just prior to Saturday's game, Weaver ran up and just exuded excitement and joy at playing on a sunny early fall day. The other players feed off him. He scored a touchdown on five tough yards, and he was tenacious as a linebacker on defense. Weaver, is about 5' 7" and plays a foot taller.
Stuyvesant has 5 or 6 coaches on the sidelines reminding the boys to make their plays and watch the snap count. They are reminded when it is time for a punt, and who should be on the field. They make adjustments during the game. It is hard to out-coach a Stuyvesant team.
The Peg Legs got on the board first when Solomon Quinn, Senior quarterback (QB) hit Mike Mazzeo on a three-yard pass for a touchdown (TD). The extra point was good. And it was 7-0 Stuyvesant.
The next time the Peg Legs had the ball they drove and scored on a 2 yard run by Weaver. The extra point was good and it's now 14-0 over Bryant who had a tough time against a team that was better than they were. A few plays later, Bryant would put a new wrinkle into the game when halfback John Mihalopoulous found a hole in the defense and scampered 55 yards for a nice touchdown run. The Bryant fans in attendance finally had something to cheer about. Bryant ran in a two-point conversion and the score was 14-8. The mood had changed on the Stuyvesant sideline, the players woke up and took care of business.
Stuyvesant kicked a field goal for 32 yards and now had a 17-8 lead. Bryant special teams busted out a long run for a touchdown that was negated by a clipping penalty.
And, that is extent of the Owls' threat. QB Quinn found Kyler Chase wide open on the right side of the end zone for another score. Quinn had checked off on the play and found Chase in the clear, something that he has worked on in practice.
Forrest Quinn, Solomon's dad is proud of his son. "It's been a good experience," said Mr. Quinn. Mr. Quinn said Solomon's doctor is in "favor of him getting good exercise and football has it."
"The coaching staff is great and they try to prepare the kids not to get injured," said Solomon's Dad.
After the game, coach Strasser noted there were no major injuries on the team. "That's the first goal," he noted.
Weaver, the workhorse, scored on a 5 yard run to end the scoring, 30-8, Stuyvesant.
Solomon was asked about how he handles his schoolwork as he begins his senior year. "You do what you have to do," Quinn said smartly. "We do well in school as a team." Quinn said he was glad to be undefeated-- but the team's goal is to win the city championship. #
SEVERAL NEW PROGRAMS, SHORTLY TBA, IN JAZZ, THEATER, FASHION DESIGN
Usdan Center for the Creative and Performing Arts (www.usdan.com), the nationally acclaimed summer arts day camp which has just finished its 46th successful season, announces the first of its Open Houses for the 2014 season. It will take place on Sunday October 27 from 11AM to 2PM. In addition to the Center's frequent Open House dates, Usdan also offers individual weekend guided tours available by appointment. Weekday self-guided walks are also available on the Center's magnificent 200-acre woodland campus at 185 Colonial Springs Road, Wheatley Heights (Huntington), New York 11798 (for directions to the Center, visit www.usdan.com).
There will be many new and expanded programs for 2014, shortly to be announced, in the Jazz, Theater and Fashion Design departments.
OPEN HOUSES: Visitors will be greeted at the Center's Administration Building by Faculty and Staff on October 27th, and at subsequent Open Houses as well. The Staff will introduce prospective students and parents to course options at Usdan, and will also review the application process. These greeting sessions will be followed by self-guided tours. Open House dates are: Sunday, October 27th, and Sunday, December 8th, 2013; Sunday January 26, Wednesday, February 19, Sunday, March 16, Wednesday, April 16, and Sunday May 18t, 2014. Hours are: 11:00 AM until 2:00 PM for all open houses. For an appointment, call 631-643-7900. (Visitors must be 21 years of age or accompanied by a parent.) Families who cannot attend an Open House may make individual appointments for visits on weekends or weekdays throughout the Fall and Winter.
Usdan Center offers more than 40 programs in music, dance, theater, visual arts, creative writing, nature and ecology and chess, annually hosting more than 1,600 students from towns throughout the Tri-State New York area. No audition is needed for most courses, and transportation is provided in air-conditioned buses that depart from most New York-area neighborhoods. One-third of Usdan's students receive scholarship assistance based on family need.
Video from many of Usdan's programs and special events, may now be viewed on the Center's website, http://www.usdan.com as well as on YouTube. Also, families can check out Usdan's Facebook site, where additional information and late-breaking news is featured.
Usdan Center for the Creative and Performing Arts, whose alumni include actors Natalie Portman and Olivia Thirlby and singers Jane Monheit and Mariah Carey, has introduced the arts to more than 60,000 Tri-State Area children since its founding in 1968. The Center is open to all young people from age 6 to 18. Usdan's program features more than 40 four and seven-week programs (as well as new, special three-week sessions) in music, dance, theater, visual arts, writing, nature & ecology, and chess. No audition is needed for most programs - rather, admission is based on an expression of interest in the arts. Each summer, 1,600 students are transported to the Center in air-conditioned buses each day. One-third of Usdan's students attend on scholarship. Although the mission of the Center is for every child to establish a relationship with the arts, the unique stimulation of the Center has caused many to go on to arts careers. Alumni include members of Broadway shows and major music, theater, and dance ensembles such as the Boston Pops and the New York City Ballet.
In addition to its regular programs, Usdan offers special opportunities for advanced high school- age performing and visual artists. These include Music Staff Internships, a Summer Ballet Intensive. Usdan Center is an agency of the UJA-Federation of New York.
Usdan's 47th season begins June 30, 2014. For more information, write to email@example.com, Call (212) 772-6060 or (631) 643-7900, or visit www.usdan.com
Higher Education is Headed for a Shakeout
By Jon Marcus
Facing skeptical customers, declining enrollment, an antiquated financial model that is hemorrhaging money, and new kinds of low-cost competition, some U.S. universities and colleges may be going the way of the music and journalism industries.
Their predicament has become so bad that financial analysts, regulators and bond-rating agencies are beginning to warn that many colleges and universities could close.
"A growing percentage of our colleges and universities are in real financial trouble," the financial consulting firm Bain & Company concluded in a report--one-third of them, to be exact, according to Bain, which found that these institutions' operating costs are rising faster than revenues and investment returns can cover them.
That's because, as enrollments decline and families become more sensitive to price, colleges are cutting deeply into their revenue by giving discounts to attract students. The result is that, even though their sticker prices seem to be ballooning faster than the inflation rate, many of these schools are falling further and further behind.
"As the price keeps going up, within 10 years our price tag will be over $75,000," said Julie Richardson, dean of admissions at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts. "That's a number that begins to concern a lot of people."
So does Hampshire's discount rate--the proportion of its tuition revenue that goes back out the door in the form of financial aid--which Richardson said is 46 percent.
More than 150 colleges and universities got failing scores on an annual test of their financial stability by the U.S. Department of Education in results, released this year, that date from 2011. Several have closed, including Saint Paul's College in Virginia, Lon Morris College in Texas, Atlantic Union College in Massachusetts, Chester College in New Hampshire, and for-profit Chancellor University in Ohio. A few are in bankruptcy.
This trend has been little noticed outside of higher education. And inside higher education, some critics contend, colleges are not reacting to it quickly enough.
"Change is needed, and it's needed now," the Bain report said. "Still, at the majority of institutions, the pace of change is slower than it needs to be. Plenty of hurdles exist, including the belief that things will return to the way they were. Note: They won't."
Robert Zemsky, chairman of the Learning Alliance for Higher Education and the author of a new book proposing educational reforms called Checklist for Change, said academic faculty are part of the problem. He said many hope things will just get better.
"The faculty aren't convinced that change is necessary," said Zemsky, who also teaches at Penn's Graduate School of Education. "We faculty--and it is we faculty--are encamped north of Armageddon. We can sort of look over the horizon and see the chaos.
We're on the sideline. And that's terrible that the faculty, writ large, are on the sideline."
Another dilemma is that the small colleges in the most trouble--the Saint Paul'ses, Lon Morrises and Atlantic Unions--don't have the clout to reform the system.
"You have a problem, because the top of the industry is doing just fine, thank you," Zemsky said. "And historically it's the top of the industry that has led change. So the real question is, how do you get the top of the industry fully engaged in this? And you can't say, well, you're going to go out of business. Because, you know, I'm at the University of Pennsylvania. Let me tell you, the one thing I don't worry about is, Penn isn't going out of business. Don't frighten me with that one. That's not going to work."
Meanwhile, though the likes of the University of Pennsylvania are also seeing plenty of applicants, college enrollment overall is dropping. It fell 1.8 percent last fall and another 2.3 percent in the spring,according to the National Student Clearinghouse. More than 300 campuses reported that they still had space in their freshman class or for transfer students as recently as July--two months after the close of the admissions season. Private colleges and universities are particularly vulnerable. The bond-rating company Moody's reports that more than 40 percent of them are experiencing enrollment declines.
One institution, Hope College in Michigan, now pays for half the cost of a plane ticket, up to $300, plus transportation from the airport, housing, and meals for prospective applicants who live outside of driving distance just to come and visit.
But most colleges and universities are responding not with airfare, but with deeper and deeper discounts on tuition, which are cutting into their bottom lines. The national average discount rate has swelled to 45 percent, up from 37 percent in 2000, according to the National Association of College and University Business Officers.
This means that, even though tuition has been skyrocketing, families are actually spending 13 percent less on college than they did in 2009, the student-loan company Sallie Mae reports. This may be good news for students and their parents, but, for colleges, the trend is unsustainable, according to the Council of Independent Colleges."The old way of doing business is not going to sustain itself into the future," said Zemsky. "You need somebody who stands up and says, 'We can do better. Let's get started.' Absent that, we're in for some really unpleasant times in higher education."
Reprinted with permission from The Hechinger Report.