Tag Archives: college

Whitman College and the Decline of Economic Diversity. Some interesting data showing the impact of Whitman’s shift from need-blind admissions to need-sensitive. It appears my years at Whitman, 2006 through 2010, came right at the tail end of their well-funded aid programs. I know without the tens of thousands of dollars Whitman granted me there’s no way I feasibly could have attended.

The End of Higher Education’s Golden Age. Clay Shirky’s fantastic post about the costs and structural instability of our current higher education model. The last line is killer:

Arguing that we need to keep the current system going just long enough to get the subsidy the world owes us is really just a way of preserving an arrangement that works well for elites—tenured professors, rich students, endowed institutions—but increasingly badly for everyone else.

The Problem With Youth Activism:

Students are surrounded by professors reminiscing about the glory days of youth activism, when groups like Students for a Democratic Society, the Weather Underground, and the Black Panther Party really ignited social change. But the professors don’t seem to make the connection that none of these were school-sanctioned organizations.

The post is from 2007, though is probably no less relevant in 2013. Also does a good job of articulating the problem without just laying blame at the feet of college kids.

The Anti-Dropout:

It’s true (and exciting) that so much knowledge has moved online in the past decade. I can learn basic programming via Treehouse. I can learn web design in a course on Udemy. But what if I want to learn about the physics that drive hardware performance? The materials science behind the next generation of wearable computing? Or what about how to bring electronics manufacturing back to the United States? There are real, fundamental sets of knowledge that are still locked up in traditional academia.

I wish I had all my notes from college in plaintext Markdown-formatted files. As I get back in to reading more difficult texts I’m writing up chapter notes in nvALT.

The more I do this, the more I find myself going back to them and searching for previously noted phrases, definitions, or quotes. My reminiscent wish is for nvALT to be a single data store for all my reading annotations. The problem is I have all these NeoOffice and Pages files from college.

Your Massively Open Offline College Is Broken:

In the academy, we’re fine with anything that lowers the cost of education. We love those kinds of changes. But when someone threatens to lower the price, well, then we start behaving like Teamsters in tweed.

Fantastic piece from Clay Shirky about why some of the biggest threats to college come from within the system.

A moment of dreaming about higher education:

As university education becomes a more highly valued commodity-as you pay fourteen thousand a year for a UC education, instead of nothing-the university experience has, indeed, become more a pleasurable self-cultivation, since university administrators prefer customers to workers. This is why universities spend more and more money on new dorms, new campus programs, and new ways of making their campus experience an attractive prospect for incoming freshmen: as universities transition towards a customer-payment model, they moving out of education business into the production of education products. They spend less and less money on classrooms and teachers, the spaces where student work happens, because they are, quite literally, not interested in student work. Their financial interest is in student-customers, and it shows.

Really interesting essay.

College was my biggest mistake:

$44,000 might as well have been a million dollars, because in my mind they were equally unfathomable- with only $300 in my checking account, I had to make a decision whether or not to borrow $176,000. Makes sense.

I remember facing a similar decision at 18. I withdrew the $6,000 from my savings account and wrote a $5,000 check to Whitman.

The other grand bought me a MacBook. On that MacBook I taught myself basic HTML, CSS, PHP, and eventually discovered WordPress.

I wouldn’t say my time at college was a mistake. Too much good came out of it to say that. But, I do know what the more productive use of my time and money was.