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Disrupting Higher Education

The Big Idea for Tuesday, January 29, 2013

America is producing a lot of overeducated taxi drivers and janitors, a new study says. In fact, nearly half of recent college graduates, the study points out, are overqualified for their jobs. 

When students today assume a large amount of college debt they are making a bet that goes like this: they will be able to find a good job that will enable them to pay that debt off. This turns out to be a very risky proposition, according to a new study by The Center for College Affordability & Productivity. The study finds that "a not inconsequential number of Americans who obtain higher education do not achieve the economic gains traditionally accompanying the acquisition of college-level credentials."

This study is one of many recent ones to challenge the notion that there is a clear relationship between educational attainment and the growth of the economy, an assumption that greatly informs the policies of the Obama administration and organizations like the Gates Foundation. 

Today we will be getting a different perspective on this issue from William Zumeta, professor of public affairs at the Evans School of Public Affairs at the University of Washington. Zumeta argues that the problem is not, as some have argued, that too many people are entering college, but rather "the tragedy is that we’ve failed to close the gap when it comes to college access—and particularly the gap when it comes to completing college."


  1. 1 Can We Still Afford Higher Education?
    William Zumeta Experts' Corner
  2. 2 Big Idea: We Can Measure Educational Value in Words
    Peter Lawler Rightly Understood
  3. 3 MOOCs are here. How should state universities respond?
    Scott McLeod Education Recoded
  4. 4 College Debt Limits Innovative Risk-Taking
    Peter Thiel

Disrupting Higher Education

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