It seems overly strict. For example, Maryland, Indiana, and Washington cover living costs and fees in addition to tuition for 4-year colleges, but they count it as not being "free college" because you can't use it to enroll half-time or as an adult.
I think people have pushed for free college at a national level, and the article is pointing out that the states offerings aren't consistent.
Also, bear in mind that covering older students or half-time students is a big deal: Most lower income families may not be able to full-time school, and may not have gotten the chance to go as soon as they graduated high school, particularly if these programs weren't available at that time. Considering living cost coverage being the other least common component, not being able to work and go to class at the same time is a big deal.
I'm particularly grateful of how I've been actually paid to study for the majority of my two Bachelors, my Masters and now my Doctorate. Not a lot, and without all the rights of a salaried worker, but still. The difference between debt and a small net gain (even though you may still require assistance from your family) is astounding for your mental health.
Edit: just an addendum, and it might be particular to my country. Some of these private institutions are very renowned, specially regarding post-graduate courses. However, the public universities are typically considered to be the 'best' ones.
As far as I can tell, the entrance exams serve as a filter of o high-quality candidates (or at least that's the consensus among professors). Another factor is that private universities have a higher share of undergraduate students that work concurrently, which impacts their performance. In any case, the relation cost (to the individual)-quality is not observable.
In the late 80's, a scheme was introduced whereby degrees were assigned to a number of bands based on your likely income as a result of that degree. At the time, IIRC, medicine and law were in the top band, while eg. philosophy was in the lowest band. Each band had an annual price for enrollment, but they were iirc, $2500, $3500, and $4500 in maybe 1988 or 1989.
You paid nothing during your studies, but once your taxable income exceeded a threshold, you paid an additional couple of percent on your income tax until the accumulated debt from your education was repaid. This was part of the income tax withheld for most salary earners, and so was largely invisible.
In addition to that, students enrolled in a recognized educational institution get an allowance for living costs. In the 80's and 90's, this was sufficient to live on (food, rent) and you could earn enough extra income to get a social life and textbooks and so on without losing your allowance.
Healthcare is basically gratis in Australia too, so it was quite feasible to attend university with a small amount of part-time work with limited or even no financial support from your family.
Over the last 30 years, the repayment percentage has increased, the starting threshold has gone down, the annual fees have gone up, and the weekly allowance hasn't kept pace with the cost of living. But ...
Even without going to the "extreme" of genuinely gratis tuition, there's plenty of precedent for a system which gives everyone a decent opportunity for education regardless of their financial circumstances.
Almost the only economic reason in a rational choice model  for a public program is the existence of externalities that justify action that would not occur in a market system without government intervention to internalize the externalities; in this case, that would be diffuse social benefit that offsets the negative expected financial return to the student if they paid full price in the market.
Of course assessing the existence and, particularly, value of such externalities is, in practice highly subjective.
 which is known to be inaccurate, and real-world irrationality may provide additional reasons.
I started studying 15 years ago to be an engine mechanic. I apprenticed with an occupational outlet in my state that paired me up with an 'old-timer' named Simon.
I was paid a regular wage to simply show up, and pay close attention and learn. for the first year or two i had no major responsibilities outside of oil changes or other pretty rote things. Finally one day I had the responsibility to do a major overhaul on a large diesel generator on a job site. I showed up, and Simon handed me a sheet of customer specifications and rework specs. I didnt realize until lunchtime that I had been crawling all over that engine for 4 hours, doing all the work myself. Every individual thing I did was part of what I'd learned, and I did it without so much as a second thought. I did it to Union spec, and I was troubleshooting real problems.
When the time came, I signed off on the work that day and certified as a master mechanic that week.
I guess what im getting at, is that at no time was there a question about my education, or my pay. Why is college different? How is it different? Why are there so many shady players?
And, the generation of politicians in Australia who introduced it? Got free university education to a man (and I do mean man)
Bastards. (I write, as a recipient of a UK grant funded degree in the 1980s)
The two younger brothers did not go to war. They were not able to go to college. They ended up poorer and died younger than the older brothers. They did not prosper nearly as well as the three older brothers.
We call the World War 2 generation the greatest ever. I think they were the greatest generation because they ended up with the greatest opportunities not because they were more special than other generations. Government that cares for its people and seeks to create a fair society is what creates great generations.
Universal access to healthcare that is free at the point of service and universal access to higher education for those who are qualified are not too expensive. It just requires a shift in priorities.
I would assume your ideas on why your younger uncles did not succeed would be more likely correct than some stranger on the internet, but have you considered that a bigger factor in their lack of success is that they did not get to fight in the war, not the fact that they did not go to college. Being in that huge cohort of men who fought in the war is sort of like everyone going to the same undergrad. Being able to form strong bonds quickly to millions of people would surely be a great advantage in life.
Its too bad that most states in the US have cut back enormously on their support of colleges and the prices have gotten out of control. Having such a large number of people start out life so highly indebted and many responsible people not going because of the cost seems like a really bad strategy for a successful society.
> In the book, Brokaw wrote, "it is, I believe, the greatest generation any society has ever produced". He argued that these men and women fought not for fame and recognition, but because it was the "right thing to do".
That title doesn't have to do with their post-war fortunes.
My dad didn't join up because it was the right thing to do. Neither did his brothers. They joined because they got drafted and at that time, at that age, if you were a guy and not in the military there was a lot of social pressure put on it. Like, "What is your excuse?"
The title partially has to do with post war fortunes because of the great economic expansion that occurred after the war. That generation did build great things and greatly enhanced the way of life of the nation. I think this came from the opportunity government gave them and not from being innately special.
By the way, they didn't save the free world. The vast majority of the fighting and killing in the ETO was done by the Soviet Union. They are the ones who won the war. The British and Americans helped but did not do the bulk of the fighting.
The perception is that paying tuition would misalign incentives and harm learning because how can a business fail a customer? Imagine taking 6 figures from someone and then saying “No, sorry, you flunk out”
Works pretty well and yes I know we pay with taxes and that’s okay. That’s what taxes are for: public good.
The idea is that you have a university, like NYU, which is comprised of colleges, like comp sci, economics etc. You go to your specific college, like major in something, and they count you as their student. You also apply to colleges specifically but are then also a student of the university.
There are also independent colleges. Some of them are good enough that they eventually get accepted into a university. Some aren’t. Sometimes the university itself founds a new college like a new major and builds it up. Like when I studied CompSci it had been some 10 years since it became its own college, but was still physically hosted by the college of electronics and the college of mathematics. It first became a course within those some time in the 80s. Nowadays it has its own buildings and stuff.
At the same time there was a multimedia college founded around the time I went to uni. Features video and stuff but also a lot of web development. They were not allowed to join the university and take tuition (I think government only funds universities). Uou can get a college degree in webdev, but not a university degree in webdev. So it’s more like a post high school vocational education.
I believe in broad strokes we have the german education system if that helps.
Also I've hardly heard of independent institutions joining universities here in Germany. Maybe you thought of the Hasso Plattner Institute "HPI was founded in 1998 and is the first, and as of 2018 the only entirely privately funded faculty in Germany."
So the University of Potsdam has a private IT faculty.
Have there been any other systems that have successfully converted out of such a out-of-control market without direct price controls from a central authority?
No country has really figured out how to solve both of those problems simultaneously on a large scale.
The US has high prices, but also one of the highest rates of higher education in the developed world. In addition, it also has provided people from all racial and ethnic backgrounds not just with the theoretical opportunity to earn a degree, but with the tools needed to actually deliver on that in practice. For all the faults of the US educational system (especially at the primary and secondary level), it performs much better than its European counterparts on this criterion if you look at the actual rates of degrees granted.
Helps low-income students cover living expenses and covers fees in addition to tuition: "[Students] have to eat. They have to have shelter. They have to buy books," says Tiffany Jones, director of higher education policy at The Education Trust. "If a politician is selling a program saying, 'I'm making college free,' and they're not dealing with any of that stuff except for tuition, that can be really problematic."
Plenty of people work their way through college, and with the burden reduced to room and board, waiting tables a few nights a week often does the trick.
> To millions of parents and students, they're magical words: free college. But is the idea pure fantasy?
I had trouble to take the article seriously, given that it does not even mention the free colleges in other countries.
As I understand the European systems, there are high-stakes tests that determine who gets to go to these colleges. Is that incorrect?
That is correct. The US has one of the highest rates of higher education (of European countries, only Luxembourg has a higher percentage of working-age adults with a university degree).
They're also heavily stratified by race, though this is something which isn't discussed much in Europe (because talking about race is somewhere between taboo and outright illegal). In the US, by contrast, there's much less of a racial divide in rates at which higher degrees are awarded.
 several countries have prohibited collection of meaningful data on race and ethnicity for public universities
~ 40% meet the requirements to go to any university (for a long time this was primarily through finishing the Gymnasium, the higher-level high-school path, but nowadays it's half and half this vs other paths, most of which end with a big set of exams and an overall grade from those)
additional ~ 10% meet the requirements for a "university of applied sciences"
Universities are allowed to set a grade limit from the exams for individual majors if they'd be oversubscribed otherwise, with some adjustment for time spent waiting for a spot and other criteria chosen by the university (activities outside school, existing experience, introduction letter, some invite candidates for interviews, ...).
If there's a limit like that or not is really mixed. E.g. at the university I studied at, some CS-related majors were limited, others weren't, chemistry, physics and mathematics were unrestricted but "bio sciences" was restricted, ... Some university institutes allow fairly heavy oversubscription and "solve" the problem by hard required exams in the first year - good for people with bad school grades but skill in the field, annoying for those that misjudged their skills. Changing majors isn't as common as it was as far as I know, but still something that happens quite a bit, especially early on.
Medical fields are a special case and centrally managed, so you don't apply to an individual university but to a central authority (and give them some preferences where you'd like to study), with again a lot of priority given to grades.
Private universities where students pay for classes exist too, but they're a niche thing.
Free college does not make the opportunity costs of bad and protracted education go away.
I thought the Obama administration did a lot to fund community colleges. Was that just all posturing and no actual substance?
What were you judged on before this? How do you evaluate the quality of a teacher? My mom is an elementary school teacher and she talks about similar things that the schools are pushing hard to have the highest graduation rates.
That sounds like a dangerous stat to judge by, since as you and she are noting the teacher's jobs are now tied to how many kids pass (and that the number keeps going up), not how well they teach.
You would have thought that standards would go up, in order for them to get better grades. But I think you'd need standardised tests at the end of college for that, and I think outside some vocational professions nobody does that.
Not sure I follow you.
Does it mean that you believe that TAs/Professors teach better if they have a higher salary and that colleges need to be expensive for this to happen?
I disagree with that statement, but there is still a financial incentive issue. Having gained your first degree, you have a choice between starting to earn real money by leaving academia or starting a PhD (possibly via MA/MSc), which might be self funded or on a meagre stipend unless it is in something very marketable. Following that, probably 3 years in a postdoc position at the same salary you could have been paid 4 years ago. So now 7 years on, you might be able to get a lectureship, still only earning as much as those who have finished their 1 or 2 year milkround graduate training position.
As you approach 40, you might become a reader, at this point your salary might be at parity with your peers from your undergraduate days who are working in charities or government jobs, but all your private sector peers are earning way more.
As you enter your 50s, you might finally become a professor. At this point, your salary matches those old chums you had who went into business, but only because their income peaked about a decade ago, and you have now caught up.
At pretty much any point along this journey, you will have options to jump ship and earn more.
EDIT: What about having a discussion instead of just downvoting? I presented my observation and expected to talk about it, downvoting isn't helping anyone and my comment is on topic.
EDIT2: Seems like some of you misunderstood me, probably my mistake, sorry about that. I'm not trying to convince anyone, I'm not trying to argue any point, I'm asking a question - to see if others' have similar experience or not. That's it, no claims to prove.
Edit: I couldn't find the recommendations but here is a chart by the world bank: https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SE.XPD.TOTL.GD.ZS
The most recent data is from 2014 though, interesting nonetheless.
> huge amount of money is wasted instead of used to help the students
is arguably worse in the US - and it's the students' money.
Sounds like SNAFU: Situation Normal -- All Fouled Up.
Humans seem unable to escape favoritism, etc. The older I get, the less convinced I am that this is entirely bad. As I get healthier, I seem to get more "likeable." I find myself wondering exactly how much "I just like you" is actually some form of shorthand assessment.
I don't know the answer. But I'm quite certain that where humans are involved, you can count on it being a morass. You can also count on some people objecting to something about it, even while others claim it is essentially perfect.
What about providing concrete examples and citations for your claims? How did you take a look inside exactly? What did you compare it to?
Your argument was probably downvoted because you didn't support your claim very well, and blaming everything on the invisible hand is not a popular dogma.
(I also wouldn't describe the places I've seen first-hand as strongly as you did, but those issues existed to some degree)
The idea that the U.S., the single wealthiest country in the history of civilization, "can't afford" to make college affordable is just plain wrong. In fact, it was affordable until just a few decades ago. The only reason it isn't affordable now is because the profit motive has been introduced into a space where it doesn't belong.
I mean, there are so many examples of fully or almost fully covered tuition around the world that it makes me wonder how such meme is still alive.
I attended a "free" university and one time I got to talking with one of the professors teaching AI about other schools, private colleges in particular. She said that she does a few classes there and the level is way lower than at the "free" university. She shared a felling she had that since the people there pay for the classes they expect the teachers to magically make the knowledge and skills appear in their heads instead of putting in the work themselves.
The sentiment of paying for admission because you couldn't get in on merit alone was shared among a sizeable amount of my colleagues and other professors.
How this works is that you have a set number of spots. Each person that applies for a spot gets points for high school grades, additional achivements, social conditions (I think), etc.
Everyone gets sorted by points. If there's 100 spots, top 100 applicants, point-wise, get in.
Plus they don't really 'support' students in terms of counseling or special programs or anything the way US universities do; it's expected that you're an adult, and if you can't hack it, you're out. In practice, lack of support means students who come from more affluent, educated backgrounds have a large advantage over first-generation college students.
On the other hand, US and European higher education are not directly comparable. (https://www.usnews.com/education/best-global-universities/ar..., https://www.usnews.com/education/best-global-universities/ar...)
I'm pretty sure poor students would prefer no support and no debt over a bit of support for huge debt.
What's this support that German students don't get?
It‘s called Bafög (if I recall correctly that’s for Bundesausbildungsförderungsgesetz, Federal Apprenticeship/Study Subsidary Law)
Depending on financial background it‘s partly paid as loan / gift. With low interest and payment schedules linked to the actual income after exiting the program.
And as a bonus, if someone is willing to live and work up north for some years (5 or 10, I can't remember), you won't have to repay the loans.
So to start providing this education at no personal cost we would have to come up with a rather large sum of money that is not currently being allocated. Roughly on par with the total educational costs of Europe. What do you cut or where do you raise taxes to make that allotment? It would be a huge readjustment.
The moment you dare suggest we follow the example of other countries you get a lot of handwringing about how the US just isn't like those other countries and it would never work here. Maybe if we privatize college more eventually it'll work better, don't worry about all those millions of people deep in debt.
But way more than this are "able to", as you put it. In order to be eligble, one needs passing grades in a high percentage of high school subjects, including some mandatory ones. But failing that, one can always study for that credit later in life.
Just for contrast, that's much lower than the US, where 44% of the population has completed an undergraduate degree equivalent.
And as pointed out by others in this thread, Sweden (like other European countries) does not have a great track record when it comes to ensuring equality for people of different racial and ethnic backgrounds. Yes, in theory, these programs might be available to everyone, but when stratification occurs in the education system from a very young age, it makes for much larger differences down the line.
> What percentage of the population is able to take advantage of the free college?
About 30%. Note that this is roughly the same as the percentage of Americans with a college degree.
So it's not some crazy cut-throat system and is not a lottery. Basically, people who know they want to go to college, plan ahead, and apply themselves, can mostly do so. People who want the opportunity sometimes don't get it, but that's true everywhere.
And there are a ton of stories of people moving from the non-university track into the university track even later in life. So there's a lot of mobility if you apply yourself.
> What are the job prospects like for those who don't go to college?
See the example OECD dataset here for "upper secondary; non-tertiary": https://data.oecd.org/unemp/unemployment-rates-by-education-... tl;dr: quite good. Better than or comparable to the US.
"German university enrollment rose by 22% as tuition disappeared...—while the number of Germans who opt instead for vocational education has declined. On the other hand, the cost to taxpayers of subsidizing higher education went up 37%. [Later:] ...The shift to dependence on government funding, combined with the increase in enrollment, has also meant a 10% decline in spending per student in the last few years, the OECD reports. Today, German public schools spend about $16,895 per student, compared with $27,924 per student in the United States."
"In Germany, low-income students can apply for grants and loans totaling around €650 a month ($580) to pay for living expenses. Since almost all students live off campus, this creates an unanticipated outcome: Even in a country where universities don’t charge tuition, students are still graduating with debt....68% of German students work,... and “students from a lower socioeconomic background try to study faster.” Students are also more likely to choose practical subjects like marketing or human resources. Meanwhile medicine and law degrees, which take longer and therefore cost more, remain careers mostly for the wealthy."
"Three-quarters of German’s adult college graduates have children who also earn university degrees, Woessmann said, compared to a 25% of adults who don’t have degrees. (In all, 57% of the equivalent of high school graduates go on to college here, the OECD reports, compared to what the Bureau of Labor Statistics says is 69% of their American counterparts.)"
Then, there's "In Norway, where college is free, children of uneducated parents still don’t go", (https://hechingerreport.org/in-norway-where-college-is-free-...).
Limiting free college to 30% of the population would never work in the U.S. By 2025, more than half of high school graduates will be minorities, mostly socioeconomically disadvantaged minorities. Without getting into the "why," these groups score substantially lower on the metrics (test scores, sometimes straight-up IQ tests) that Germany uses to select the 30% of students who have access to college. To ensure that enough disadvantaged minorities would have access to free college, the U.S. would need the large majority of high school graduates to go to free college. That would make the program much more expensive than in Germany.
Applying the German system to the U.S. unchanged would not only be politically impossible, but would be hugely regressive. It would be a massive taxpayer-funded program that would benefit primarily students that are advantaged to begin with.
For the $75-billion estimated cost of free college, we could write a $5,000 check for each and every child under the poverty line, every year. That seems a lot better use of money than ensuring that a bunch of primary middle/upper middle class kids get free college.
It's a shame you're being downvoted, because you're right. To put it another way: the reason Germany, France, Spain, etc. are able to provide free education is twofold:
1) They provide education to a much smaller portion of the population than the US does (~25% in Germany compared to >45% the US).
2) They're content with having a system which reinforces racial inequalities from a very young age.
The US education system, for all its faults, is actually quite good at providing opportunities for minorities in higher education, and the rates of degrees awarded bear this out. It's unpopular to point this out, but that's something that the German/French/etc. models don't do at all. Yes, the opportunities are available to people from any racial background in theory, but in practice, they mask significant racial disparities under the guise of being "colorblind".
I'll add that you could take care of a lot of the rest of the things by having a strong support system.
Only about 30% of americans have college degrees as it is. Not as much would change.
If you take some other countries examples as well and include things like trade schools and things that would be an associates degree elsewhere, your number would be much higher. These sorts of programs are tracked seperately.
But, if I go to college and dick around and fail out, why should taxpayers have to pay my tuition?
If I try breeding chickens and some of them stop laying eggs, should I abandon the whole endeavor and start buying my chickens from the local supermarket because some chicken are dicking around?
All national efforts are going to have some waste, it's inevitable and I think we can more than comfortably afford it.
Our job should not be to scrutinize every detail in order to minimize waste (of course we should be doing that as well) but rather to make sure that every wheat seed and every chicken have all they need in order to fully develop themselves to the best of their abilities.
There is a reason we expend so much energy and care in looking after wheat and chickens. It's so we can eat them.
An animal on a farm might be treated well (at the discretion of the farmer) (until they are slaughtered), but they aren't free. An animal in the wild has freedom, but not security.
America heavily favors the latter, or at least it used to, times may be a'changing.
An animal that gives up its freedom for security deserves neither.
I agree that the original metaphor was inappropriate because it compares people to domesticated animals and crops that have no free will and would not exist without the farm, not to mention the personal freedom implications of equating citizens to domesticated animals.
There would be a huge incentive for all of these people to declare bankruptcy, discharge the debt, and then wait around the ~7 years for the bankruptcy to disappear from their credit report. As long as they don't want to buy a house during that period it wouldn't even be much of an inconvenience.
If what you say is true, why don't people graduate college, live large on credit cards for a few years, and then just declare bankruptcy? There's zero consequence to it right?
Edit: This would also put further pressure on banks to make sure the loans are not so burdensome that this becomes an attractive option. Theoretically, anyone could do this with any loan (although taking out a loan with the intention of declaring bankruptcy is fraud and would go badly), but most people don't, because it's easier to just repay the loan than deal with 7 years of hassles b/c of bankruptcy.
(Preemptively: for almost that entire time, my family was living basically paycheck-to-paycheck, and our largest expenses were rent and food).
People do leave college and rack up enormous credit card debt. The reason everyone doesn't BK is that there's a social stigma to it, and also, in general, the average American consumer does not have a good idea how the credit system works. Read Patrick McKenzie about this sometime. If more people understood how generous our creditor/debitor laws were to consumers, or how clownshoes disorganized consumer finance was (why would they give a shit? they're judged almost entirely on growth), people would take much more ruthless advantage of it.
But there's also a difference between accumulating $50,000 of revolving credit debt over a span of 5-10 years and six figures based on a decision you make when you are eighteen years old.
Even on a topic like consumer finance where I consider myself fairly knowledgable.
If you just don't have a credit history, then you're an unknown quantity, but most institutions will still take a risk possibly with some security. Everyone starts out with no credit so you have to start somewhere.
This is entirely different from someone who has proven themselves to be a bad risk by already refusing to repay their debts.
You can easily live a normal life through your 20's with a bankruptcy on your record. (I don't have one, but I know people who do.)
Without loans to support exorbitant tuition, prices will have to go down to what people are actually able to afford to pay.
And there isn't zero consequence to defaulting. They'll still take the couple grand you have in your checking account. And having crappy credit is somewhat inconvenient (for the reasons you mention).
It's about cost vs reward. If you've only got $5k in credit card debt then the reward isn't worth the cost. But if you've got $100k in student loan debt those costs start to look pretty small.
Without an unlimited supply of money, universities will not be able to charge outrageous amounts for tuition and will have to be more in line with what people are actually able to pay. That's better all around.
I mean, if any 18 year old could fill out a form and get a government-guaranteed six figure loan to buy a car. A loan that they were prohibited from ever defaulting on...then Toyota Corollas would probably cost $150k too...
You'd have a lot fewer people going to college. And the people missing out would be poorer and browner.
Now, maybe that would be OK. But a lot of people wouldn't see it that way.
The people who lose out the most in our current system seem to be those in the middle - not poor enough to qualify for need-based aid, but not rich enough to be able to afford it. Those are the ones who end up with the loans. If tuition hadn't been significantly outpacing inflation for the last few decades, they and their families would probably be able to swing the bill.
Also, it is not free because not enough people wants to go to college. In Denmark, for example, we have educations where 95% of applicants are rejected.
I guess alternative would be accepted almost everyone, but then during first three years or so, ruthlessly remove students from programs based on test scores etc.
I believe that you are right in your intuition, but not in the consequences.
The first consequence is that in Germany, vocational training is often a much better alternative to universities for many pupils. Also being allowed to go to university requires an "Abitur" degree of the school, which means that you have to go 2-3 years longer to the school. For even being allowed to "Oberstufe" (the part of school that leads to "Abitur"), you need decent marks in school beforehand.
Even if you have Abitur, there exist alternatives to universities that can suit one better than university, for example Fachhochschule (school of applied science; though I am cautious to use this English translation, since it is a very German concept that has no analogue in the English-speaking world that I am aware of), a kind of "university" that has no academic focus, but applied focus. I think the best English translation that I can come up with is "engineering school", though it is not restricted to engineering degrees.
Also be aware that at German universities you are very much on your own for studying; i.e. no hands-holding etc.
TLDR: Two points:
1. There exist good alternatives to universities in Germany
2. At a German university, you are typically much on your own - this is not for everybody.
And for those who don't qualify for particular masters program, well I guess they will either try harder next time over, or face the music and look for some other areas where they might be a better fit.
I bet you could find approximately 5% of people in the US who are able to qualify for full scholarships.
So saying "Hey if we can pay for a few hundred thousand people to go to college, why can't you pay for tens of millions of people to go college?" is not really a fair comparison.
It makes no sense at all.
Those who go to college don't have to deal with crippling dept.
We did at one point in history have college that was affordable without having the government pay for it. It should be possible to do that again.
It would also mean less horrific student loan situations.
I'd be interested in seeing data on that. Family income and "academic prowess" are often highly correlated, since higher income families tend to have better educated parents to begin with and are more able to pay for tutors and additional help.
My totally anecdotal experience (mostly Italy, Spain) is the opposite, even in countries where higher education is cheap/subsidized, people tend to go to University "just because", mostly because it is expected by family/parents, and most don't really have a long term plan.
It is really rare for a 17/18 yo to have a clear picture of his/her own future, IMHO.
Canada - 54%
Japan - 48%
U.S. - 44%
Switzerland - 40%
Sweden - 39%
Estonia - 38%
Iceland - 37%
Belgium - 37%
France - 32%
Germany - 27%
The US, on the other hand wouldn't benefit nearly as much. The need for still more (relatively) over-edu'ed isn't there.
On a similar note, US edus charge more because they can. As demand increases so does price. Top that off with the available of "cheap" and easy money (i.e., subsidized student loans) and prices go even higher.
Not everyone is college material, and that's not a bad thing. Unfortunately, most in the US are unwilling to accept this.
Online-only courses that everyone in the United States can get into regardless of ability (no admission department). Standardized exams with rigid grading criteria (no need for TAs to grade). Lectures are recorded once, so it's only a one-time fee paid to a professor.
No athletics department. No dorms. No campus. No clinic.
There's your free college education.
If you want your sports and luxury dorms and catered meals, then you gotta pay for it.
No essays, no writing requirement. In fact, no specialized grading is possible. There's only limited curricula that can be satisfied by multiple-choice grading.
Presumably it would have the same work requirements as a traditional class: ~3 hours of lecture / week, ~15 weeks, plus an additional 3-6 (?) hours of reading and exercises per week = 90-150 hours of work. My degree required >= 120 credit hours, so overall that would be 3600-5400 hours of work. Going to do that in your spare time while you wait tables or clerk a convenience store?
Why wait tables or clerk when you can live at home with your parent and spend your time doing class activities? The education is free, so what's the extra income needed for?
You don't need essays to assess understanding of material. My education was evaluated with 99% standardized testing.
You don't need interaction with professors if your questions were answered by a FAQ.
The best part: it's easy to recruit the best talent for providing the lectures because you'll be the face of a specific subject for many years, and being features as THE expert teacher, your side gigs get huge exposure: books, articles, commentary, etc.
You can even get recurring income by addressing questions in follow up videos.
It's like Khan academy but at the national level, and this time it's for keeps (aka it counts for education credits).
For many students, this is the only mathematics course they take for their degree and they fail/drop multiple times before finally succeeding. For those students, their mathematics course in college is quite literally a repeat of high school.
It's worth noting that many colleges have even more remedial mathematics courses, which (no joke) cover elementary school stuff. E.g. the standard algorithm for division...
So in some sense I would agree with Dowwie's concern, but also point out that we already have this problem anyways, so there isn't much to lose.
After I finished my undergraduate education, I moved to a different area and started to hang out around people who were attending the local state University. Often, they would say "I'm bad at math" and "I struggled with College Algebra" in the same sentence/context.
My initial reaction was a dumbfounded "Algebra is a college subject? I didn't know that. I thought it was a high school subject, sometimes started in middle school."
Of course I didn't do my undergraduate education at a state University. I went to a more engineering-focused school, where the lowest math class in the entire course catalog was a dumbed down variant of Calculus for non-engineering majors.
He did not do well.
The argument is that using expensive colleges/universities to fill course-length gaps in K12 education is a poor use of resources.
Society should not pay PhD-trained analysts or algebraists to teach FOIL...
That is different from "competitive" admissions. Which, in my interpretation, is artificially limiting the number of admissions such that perfectly qualified (or overqualified) people are rejected for nebulous reasons (i.e., not a "good fit") in an effort to maintain prestige.
> It's worth noting that many colleges have even more remedial mathematics courses, which (no joke) cover elementary school stuff. E.g. the standard algorithm for division...
Mathematics education sucks in most of the US. In large parts of the country, how far you're able to go is determined by how well you do in your math classes at like 10 years old. If you do poorly, then it's very likely you'll be stuck on a tract that will never teach you to solve linear equations. Those that do well end up learning integral calculus before college.
Additionally, you have to consider that returning students may have not had a math class in a decade+ and it's hard to know where to start everyone. So it makes sense to start people from arithmetic. My mother went for her degree in her 50s and literally started at Kindergarten math and worked her way up from there.
That's totally fair. In that case, I think this is a difference in wording/failure to communicate more than it is an actual substantive disagreement.
I agree with the problem that you identified. I don't think that the correct solution to that problem is to start teaching middle school math in universities.
Night classes and/or GED prep courses are a better option for people who need to re-do high school.
Of course, fixing k12 education would be an even better option...
>> if a state managed to arrange an associate's degree program paid by taxes, the programs would teach that which should have already been taught in high school. These college programs aren't college.
I provided a concrete example of where this is already happening in higher ed: the mathematics course that a huge percentage of students take in college are covering material that's supposed to be covered in high school.