Former President Bill’s Clinton announced at the 2011 Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) will be working with MTVu and the College Board, through funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, will develop a social media tool to help college students search for financial aid. The idea for the tool was came from the winner of the “Get Schooled” College Affordability Challenge. The challenge invited all current and prospective college students to submit an innovate digital tool or app which would simplify the financial aid process.
The tool will take relevant information from a user’s Facebook page and generate a list of financial aid information for that user. The tool will also provide tutorials on financial aid related processes such as FAFSA and loans. President Clinton noted “college affordability is an urgent issue that demands innovation and a fundamental rethinking of the ways students access higher education." “A college degree is not just critical, it is essential to America's economic future, and it's important that we continue to find ways to harness the power of technology to close the educational opportunity gap,” he further added.
Since Thursday I've been in Philadelphia at the ACRL conference. Jaron Lenier was one of the keynote speakers and a lot of what he said really resonated with me, but most importantly was that our (librarians) jobs are about people, humanity and individuals and we should remind ourselves of that more regularly.
Here's an interview from Library Journal: Toward a Human-Centric Internet: Jessamyn West Interviews Jaron Lenier
After 28 long years, India has reclaimed the Cricket World Cup. By doing so it became the first team to win the Cricket World Cup on home soil (the final match was played in Mumbai). Of course, it was a total team effort as evidenced by the great play of captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni. But the hopes and expectations of over one billion people rested largely on the shoulders of two of India's most famous cricketeers--Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag.
I have to admit that I knew almost nothing about cricket until Ankit posted a video explanation on Vialogues (see below). But I've since become a fan mostly because of Sachin and Sehwag and what they represent for cricket in India. There is a great piece by Wright Thompson, senior writer at ESPN, that describes the changing game of cricket and what these two men symbolize in the evolution of the sport, and what the game of cricket represents to India globally, politically, and economically. Check it out here .
This week the Philadelphia Inquirer ran a 7 part series, titled “Assault on Learning,” exposing a “climate of violence” within Philadelphia city schools. The newspaper’s yearlong investigation has revealed that there are, on average, 25 (reported) violent incidents occurring at school, every day, in Philadelphia. The majority of these incidents were assaults, and students were not the only victims.
A couple days ago, PBS Frontline premiered an in depth documentary on the issue of whether collegiate athletes should be paid. At the center of this question issue is the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), who are being blame for exploiting these athletes to generate revenue.
Founded in 1906, the NCAA is the nation’s leading organizer of intercollegiate athletic programs with over a thousand participating institutions. Although it takes on the name as a nonprofit organization, the NCAA in fact wrecks in billions of dollars in revenue and profits each year. Revenue is generated from a variety of fields such as television and marketing rights, advertisement, among others. With all of this money at their disposal, it leaves many wondering why the performing athletes are not getting their fair share of the profits.
The NCAA does not advocate a monetary incentive for college athletes on the basis that they are “amateur student athletes” and not professional players. An athletic scholarship is seen as enough for these athletes since they are given an opportunity to receive an education from an accredited institution while simultaneously developing their athletic talent.
Former collegiate athletes (especially those of “big named” universities) and other advocates though object this notion. They cite that college athletes should receive some sort of financial compensation due to the amount of money and publicity that they generate for both the NCAA and their respective colleges. In fact the most profitable college football team, the University of Texas, generated about 94 million dollars in revenue and 69 million dollars in profits last year. In terms of publicity, last year’s Final Four “Cinderella”, Butler University helped the university’s applicant pool surge about 41% from the previous year. No matter how significant their contributions are though, college athletes are still required by contract not to accept any financial compensation from any university related personnel. Those that violate this law, along with their university, receive severe repercussions. This has some advocates likening the situation to modern day indentured servitude. If these collegiate athletes are not receiving their portion of the profits they helped generate, one has to wonder exactly what the NCAA does the profits generated.
According to the NCAA, profits generated are geared to the organization of the program such as paying for the remodeling of stadiums for tournament games, among others. Critics, on the other hand, note that the surplus is used to inflate the salaries of the organization’s leader board, some of whom receive well over seven figure salaries. The CEO of the Tostitos Bowl (one of the marque Bowl Championship Series (BCS) games) recently just got fired for using revenue generated from the bowl game for his personal expenses.
As to whether college athletes should be paid remains to be seen but there seems to be ground being gained each passing year. A lawsuit is currently been filed against the NCAA by former athletes who are suing the organization for unwillingly selling their names to video game developers and for using their image to generate money off DVD sales.
Here is the embedded video of the documentary in its entirety.
Getting back to undergraduate education, we ought to be skeptical of the value it adds to any of these professions. For medicine, there are a few courses that need to be taken in undergrad but those can be completed within 1-2 years easily. There are no required courses for those who are pre-law or those planning on going to business school soon after. While some careers in finance require a strong quantitative background that typically entails 4 challenging years of undergraduate education, a large proportion of careers in finance do not require such a demanding course of study.
Is undergraduate education opening opportunities or simply serving as a barrier of entry to those who cannot afford both undergraduate education and M/L/B school? An undergraduate education can certainly be a time to explore, but you're kidding yourself if you think that's what most students actually do. More to the point, some people simply do not have the resources to engage in intellectual exploration, especially if it comes at such a high cost and delays their earnings.
Simply put, we're not going to educate our way to a more equal society anytime soon.
Google "Higher Education & Income Inequality" and you can read about how higher education explains most of the rise in income inequality. I do not doubt this fact, but I have a problem with the policy prescription that comes with such research, namely that if more students go to college, income inequality will decline.
This strikes me as largely untrue. In fact, I would argue undergraduate education in many cases increases income inequality. Yeah, I said it. (Although no one has done the necessary research on this...yet)
Much of the rise in income inequality via higher education has come as a result of the rise in the professional class. The educational investment needed to become a doctor or a lawyer is indeed higher than most professions, as are the wages that come as a result of such investment. The same is starting to happen for other professions, particularly in finance with the rise in prominence of a masters of business administration. Yet notice that in the U.S., as opposed to most other countries, an undergraduate education is necessary for an M.D., J.D., or an M.B.A.
Unfortunately, there are only a finite number of MDs, largely the result of the American Medical Association lobbying to limit the number of medical seats available each year. Likewise, there are only a finite number of lawyers needed, as given by the high unemployment rate for recently graduated law school students. Given the trend in finance toward choosing from elite schools almost exclusively, only those limited few at elite schools can lay claim to high-paying careers in high finance. More people going to college in order to work in each of these respective fields does not magically yield more jobs in these fields.
Julia and I are at the annual Association of College & Research Libraries conference in Philadelphia today. We're presenting a poster on Pressible, and how our library is using it to expand the publishing possibilities for our community. If WiFi holds, we'll share our experiences as we go.
I'm currently at my first session on "embedded librarianship" -- putting the work and knowledge of librarians closer to teachers, students, and curriculum. One interesting example that came up (and an example relevant to our presentation) was how librarians can support student writing projects by helping to host, edit, and collaborate around public blogging. Cool!
Julia will be blogging about the conference over on her Pressible site, Shelfless.
For those who were unaware, yesterday was D-Day (decision day) for high school seniors applying to Ivy League and other elite schools. My Facebook news-feed displayed some triumphs and some heartbreak, but on the whole, I was hearing the same anecdotes about the same schools that I heard last year. The well-rounded middle-class student with a 2300+ SAT score getting rejected while the rather underqualified wealthy student with a <1900 SAT score gaining acceptance. Obviously SAT scores are not the only things that matter; I'm just using SAT scores as a rough first-order approximation to illustrate a greater narrative that might be at play.
The narrative has become increasingly prevalent in the past two years from my personal observations and I have become increasingly suspicious of need-blind policies as a result. Since the 2008 financial crisis and throughout 2009, endowments at elite schools, such as Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and Columbia, have endured significant losses. I would not be surprised if admissions offices have thus had an incentive to choose a slightly less qualified student who has the ability to pay for full tuition over a qualified student who might require substantial financial aid. The fact of the matter is that universities are dealing with finite financial resources, and thus incentives are at play. As my intermediate macro professor says, incentives matter.
I am shocked by the lack of research into whether colleges are actually need-blind, especially given how easy it is to test for it. Such research would require extensive survey data, but that's not impossible to generate. Am I just working off anecdotal evidence rooted in biased narrative or if my suspicions have any truth to them?