Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ Free Shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
Going Broke by Degree: Why College Costs Too Much Hardcover – January 1, 2004
About the Author
Richard Kent Vedder is a professor in the department of economics at Ohio University. His op-ed pieces have appeared in such papers as the Wall Street Journal, Investor's Business Daily, Washington Times, Washington Post, USA Today, and Christian Science Monitor. Vedder has written several books including The American Economy in Historical Perspective (Wadsworth, 1976) and Out of Work: Unemployment and Government in Twentieth-Century America (coauthored with Lowell Gallaway) (New York University Press, updated edition 1997).
Top customer reviews
His position is that of a gadfly, challenging received wisdom and commonly-accepted methods of proceeding. He is, however, a university professor (at Ohio University), not a real, raging outsider, and he is, like Ehrenberg, an economist. As an economist, he is fond of charts, graphs, data and evidence and his book is particularly useful for the information that it offers. For example, even when he juxtaposes for-profit education with not-for-profit education in ways that might make those who participate in the latter uncomfortable, he offers useful and informative material on, e.g., the University of Phoenix.
His principal concern is economic. Much of U.S. higher education is, in effect, being funded by third parties (the government, lending agencies, endowments . . . ) and individuals are far less likely to be sensitive to price when someone else is paying (or helping to pay) the bill. This is exacerbated by the fact that universities spend all their available money (more or less) and are not constrained by the need to yield profits. In economic terms, they lack fiscal discipline, a situation further exacerbated by their governance mechanisms.
Hence he poses big questions. Should we abolish tenure? Should we privatize all public education? Should we suspend all government support for higher education? Should we have single indirect-cost rates for all research universities, rates that would be lower than the current average? Should we move to a system of vouchers in which the government money should all go directly to students? Should the vouchers be portable across state lines (and include private institutions)?
His conclusions tend to be more moderate, since they are tempered by political and cultural realities. The information which he adduces, however, when he pursues his questions, is very useful and informative.
I would recommend that readers of Ehrenberg also read Vedder (and vice-versa). The two complement one another in interesting ways and both offer interesting material for consideration.
Yes, economics involves charts. No there are not too many charts. People can read them or skip them and still get the answers they seek. An author writes a book for many audiences, in this case, administrators, economists and parents and it's best to include the whole enchilada and let the reader pick and choose which parts meets his or her needs.
To simply forward Vedder's conclusion, the rising cost and dropping quality of college education is due to, ironically, alumnus donations and government subsidies, and lack of market stimuli (although higher education is protected from these for the sake of improving quality).
Although the use of tables, graphs, and other statistics is very pronounced- sometimes too easy to get lost in- there are occasions when there just isn't the specific number that would tie everything together. There is a point where Vedder is attempting to describe a regression line, and mistakenly describes a kind of logarithmic function, by using a percentage of a variable instead of a percentage of a constant (the constant, even if you notice it's missing there, doesn't appear to be anywhere else). It also seemed to illustrate a very important point, and it's regretable that the point is so hard to grasp.
This example is the worst I could find in the book. Such as it is, Vedder's book is good if you're interested or patient enough regarding the number-crunching; most of it is coherent and makes sense easily enough. His theories rest solidly on the evidence, and his perspective will resonate with those of you who believe the government is too wasteful and/or corrupt to be handling the schooling of the young.
Probably, the best use for this book will be as a source of numbers in debates concerning higher education, as Vedder goes to considerable length to crunch them for the reader.