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The Higher Education Bubble (Encounter Broadside) Paperback – June 26, 2012

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Glenn Harlan Reynolds is the Beauchamp Brogan Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of Tennessee. He writes for such publications as The Atlantic Monthly, Forbes, Popular Mechanics, The Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Examiner. He blogs at InstaPundit.com.

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Product Details

  • Series: Encounter Broadside (Book 29)
  • Paperback: 56 pages
  • Publisher: Encounter Books (June 26, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594036659
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594036651
  • Product Dimensions: 0.2 x 4.8 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #666,923 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

78 of 81 people found the following review helpful By Loyd E. Eskildson HALL OF FAME on June 23, 2012
Format: Paperback
The 'Higher Education Bubble' hypothesizes that there is now a speculative boom in higher education fueled by cheap credit (federal student loan programs), with a bust coming or already present. College tuition payments have rapidly risen far faster (tuition and fees up 440+% from 1982 - 2007, vs. cost of living increases of 106% and family income growth of 147% during the same period, while the rate of return for a college degree is decreasing.

For example, more and more newspaper reporters have learned their work was subsidized by classifieds and now can't survive Craigslist et al, computer programmers in the U.S. have been replaced by others in India, and both the proportion of adults graduating from college and non-elite schools are rising.

Already we have about $1 trillion in outstanding student loans, many in default (payments are being made on just 38% of the balances, down from 46% five years ago), and they can't be discharged through bankruptcy. Roughly 11% attended for-profit colleges and they receive about 25% of federal student loans and grants. Meanwhile, learning has presumably decreased - students are studying 50% less than a couple of decades ago.

Author Glenn Reynolds is a law professor at the University of Tennessee. He contends that college education is merely a way to meet spouses of similar status and a marker (self-discipline, ability to defer gratification), not an ingredient needed to enter the middle class. Reynolds points out as illustration that professional basketball players have expensive sneakers, but it's not the shoes that make them good.

Once a student graduates from college he/she may be unable to find a job enabling paying off student loans.
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52 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Lao T. Sue on June 22, 2012
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I have taught college for 40 years -- mostly part-time. I have worked at a decent private institution for the last 27 years and have been horrified at the lack of preparation of a significant number of students -- not all, but way too many. In my terms, half of our graduates are functionally illiterate. Combine this with escalating tuition, and you get a national crisis -- a bubble, if you will.

Mr. Reynolds' work in this area, which I have accessed most often as a daily visitor to his excellent "Instapundit" website, has defined and elevated this issue so that it is now entering the mainstream.

Every teacher and administrator, at every level of education, should read this book. Every parent of a school age child, and every high school or college student, should also read it. Something that can't go on won't. Change is coming. If you want to understand the problems of contemporary higher education and be part of the national discussion and solution, you've got to read this clear and concise work.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Richard B. Schwartz TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 27, 2012
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This is not a book, but rather a broadside--a longish essay (48 small pages) which focuses intently on the subject in a lively and pointed way. Institutions of higher education are charging too much for too little. This cannot last; the bubble will burst. The ivies, significant privates and flagship publics will all survive, but many (fourth tier law schools, e.g.) will not. The education bubble is comparable to the .com bubble: operations will be closed; the industry will be shaken, but the internet and world wide web will continue.

Meanwhile, Professor Reynolds offers some cogent advice. First and foremost, do not incur significant student loan debt. And to the universities? Offer coursework of rigor and substance; cut the fluff. Offer value for dollar.

While there will be significant readjustment, as runaway tuition, fees and loan costs approach the stone wall, that readjustment can take many forms. The further cheapening of the product is always likely. Indeed, it has been underway for decades.

If there is one element of the readjustment that Professor Reynolds overlooks, it is the chameleon-like nature of institutions to change their appearance and, indeed, their very nature. The pleasant little liberal arts college on the edge of town is suddenly surviving on the basis of weekend/evening cash-cow master's degree programs or setting up offices in strip malls in a neighboring city. This process has also been underway for decades.

Reynolds writes with passion; his rhetoric is lucid and lively; he is aware of key works in the contemporary higher ed literature (and quotes them, but does not provide footnoted references).

This broadside will stimulate discussion and open eyes not yet familiar with the subject.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By CTSheepdog on July 30, 2012
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In truth, I am a regular reader of InstaPundit and Reynolds' other works. Thus, his many regular Hiegher Education Bubble Updates prepared me for the contents of this short, quick read. That said, reading Bubble in one sitting had the emotional impact of watching the unrated highlights of all the Saw movies in a single sitting. My eyes were nearly bleeding.

As the fater of four sons with the eldest going into his last year of high school, we are right in the midst of the college admissions dance. Knowing that I am going to be paying today's prices for at least the eldest makes me feel like a home buyer in 2006 - I know it is the top of the market but how much could I be overpaying?

I highly recommend this work for both prospective consumers of higher education but for everyone since this bubble's slow deflation will have broad and far reaching impacts on our society.
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