As a follow-up to yesterday’s post (esp. point #3), I wanted to highlight a few interesting excerpts from David Brooks’ Op-Ed yesterday, Testing the Teachers, which talks about the state of US universities and some significant trends — namely, that:

  • “Colleges are charging more money, but it’s not clear how much actual benefit they are providing.”
  • “Colleges today are certainly less demanding. In 1961, students spent an average of 24 hours a week studying. Today’s students spend a little more than half that time — a trend not explained by changing demographics.”
  • “This is an unstable situation. At some point, parents are going to decide that $160,000 is too high a price if all you get is an empty credential and a fancy car-window sticker.”
  • “One part of the solution is found in three little words: value-added assessments. Colleges have to test more to find out how they’re doing.”
  • With these assessments, some institutions could say: “’We may not be prestigious or as expensive as X, but here students actually learn.’”

This last point is key — and it may be online offerings, not just less well-known universities, who will be able to market off this tagline.