Change.edu: Rebooting for the New Talent Economy

Change.edu: Rebooting for the New Talent Economy

4.7 9
by Andrew S Rosen
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

It’s no wonder American higher education is facing a crisis.

While low-income students can’t find a spot in their local community colleges for lack of funding, public four-year universities are spending staggering sums on luxurious residence halls, ever-bigger football stadiums, and obscure research institutes. We have cosseted our most

Overview

It’s no wonder American higher education is facing a crisis.

While low-income students can’t find a spot in their local community colleges for lack of funding, public four-year universities are spending staggering sums on luxurious residence halls, ever-bigger football stadiums, and obscure research institutes. We have cosseted our most advantaged students even as we deny access to the working adults who urgently need higher education to advance their careers and our economy. In Change.edu: Rebooting for the new talent economy Andrew S. Rosen clearly and entertainingly details how far the American higher education system has strayed from the goals of access, quality, affordability, and accountability that should characterize our system, and offers a prescription to restore American educational pre-eminence.

To change, our system will have to end its reflexive opposition to anything new and different. Rosen describes how each new wave of innovation and expansion of educational access— starting with the founding of Harvard in 1636, and continuing with the advent of land-grant colleges in the 19th century, community colleges in the 20th century and private sector colleges over the last two decades—has been met with misunderstanding and ridicule. When colleges like the University of California, Cornell and Purdue were founded, they were scorned as “pretenders to the title of university” – language that tracks later criticisms of community colleges and most recently for-profit colleges.

Avoiding that condescension is just one of the reasons colleges have come under the sway of “Harvard Envy” – schools that were founded to expand access feel an inexorable tug to become more prestigious and exclusive. Even worse, the competition for the best students has led universities to turn themselves into full-fledged resorts; they’ve built climbing walls, French bistros and 20-person hot-tubs to entice students to their campuses.

How can America address an incentive system in higher education that is mismatched to the challenges of the years ahead? In Change.edu, Rosen outlines “seven certainties” of education in the coming 25 years, and presents an imperative for how our system must prepare for the coming changes. He proposes a new “playbook” for dealing with the change ahead, one that will enable American higher education to regain its global primacy and be a catalyst for economic growth in the 21st century.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
 “...a smart, easy-to-read overview of the weaknesses of colleges and universities and the benefits of the fast-growing private-sector colleges...While this book will not quiet all the critics, it effectively identifies weaknesses in both the nonprofit and the public sectors and should stimulate college presidents to reconsider some of their priorities.” —School Library Journal

 “Presently, this may be the subject of snide editorials and contemptuous hearings, but Rosen envisions a day when for-profit learning centers step up and fill the education gap much in the same way “land grant” and community colleges did in years past. The alternative, he fears, spells trouble for American supremacy in education.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Andrew Rosen has written a great new book on higher education in America, Change.edu: Rebooting for the New Talent Economy.  It is provocative, insightful, and mostly correct. Yet, I predict, it will be largely ignored by the higher-education community.”  —Richard Vedder, Innovations blog for The Chronicle of Higher Education
"Americans know that our primary and secondary schools are woefully under-performing but believe our colleges and universities are second to none.  Andy Rosen blows a big hole in that belief, showing that, just when we need to grow the number of students getting a high-quality post-secondary education, our state universities are in financial distress and our private schools are quickly becoming too costly for all but the wealthy.  This is a must-read book for those who care about fixing our nation's higher education problems before they become intractable." —Former New York City Schools Chancellor, Joel Klein

Library Journal
Rosen, chairman and CEO of Kaplan, Inc., has written a smart, easy-to-read overview of the weaknesses of colleges and universities and the benefits of the fast-growing private-sector colleges, one of which, Kaplan University, he heads. He argues that too many public and private universities focus on campus amenities and institutional prestige rather than what their students learn and that community colleges provide access but have an unsustainable financial model. Private-sector universities prosper only because they give students new skills, so they pay close attention to what their students learn and how they can learn better. Rosen presents data and analyses that challenge the usual criticisms of private-sector universities—that they don't educate and they charge too much, misuse government funds, and recruit too aggressively. While this book will not quiet all critics, it effectively identifies weaknesses in both the nonprofit and the public sectors and should stimulate college presidents to reconsider some of their priorities. VERDICT A well-written and thought-provoking critique of contemporary higher education of interest to all readers concerned about the future strength of American society.—Elizabeth R. Hayford, Northwestern Univ., Evanston, IL
Kirkus Reviews
An enjoyable look back at the history of higher education in America and the startling new ways it might develop in the future. The author and CEO of test-prep powerhouse Kaplan is willing to doff his mortarboard to the Ivy League--but only because Rosen is absolutely convinced that one day, often maligned private-sector institutions like his will rule the day. Incredibly, his argument never comes off as self-serving; the author's thorough exploration of "Harvard Envy" and the rise of "resort" campuses is both fascinating and enlightening. He cites spiraling costs, dwindling budgets and improved technology as some of the many reasons behind this inevitable changeover. If America is going to compete with the global brain trust, the author argues, it will have to be done from behind a computer screen. The prestige that Ivy League schools command is largely due to their exclusivity, a fact that runs counter to the growing need to expose increasing numbers of people to higher education. Thus, somewhere in America, there is a college campus contemplating the highest rock-climbing wall in an effort to woo new students. That's just about as ridiculous as online distance learning--what might be thought of as the successor to old "correspondence courses"--becoming as viable as Yale or Duke. But both are happening. The U.S., writes Rosen, has no other choice but to look to virtual for-profit learning outlets like Kaplan and the University of Phoenix to boost the number of college graduates. Presently, this may be the subject of snide editorials and contemptuous hearings, but Rosen envisions a day when for-profit learning centers step up and fill the education gap much in the same way "land grant" and community colleges did in years past. The alternative, he fears, spells trouble for American supremacy in education.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781607144410
Publisher:
Kaplan Publishing
Publication date:
10/18/2011
Pages:
208
Product dimensions:
8.40(w) x 5.52(h) x 0.99(d)

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
The Washington Post - January 20, 2012

"CHANGE.EDU: Rebooting for the New Talent Economy,” By Andrew S. Rosen By Bill Gates

Theodore Hesburgh, the former president of the University of Notre Dame, used to joke that education was one of the few things people were willing to pay for and not get. While that may still be true for some students whose parents are picking up the tab, for many others eager to land a decent job with a future, society needs to do more to ensure that all students get the education and training they need to keep pace with the evolving demands of employers.

In “Change.edu,” Andrew Rosen calls for greater relevance, access, accountability and transparency in higher education. He builds a persuasive case that many non-traditional students — such as working adults, parents and those at risk of dropping out — are not well served by traditional institutions. New approaches, he argues, are critical to ensure that more people have the opportunity to obtain college degrees.

As chief executive of Kaplan, Inc., a for-profit educational services company, Rosen offers a prescription that will rankle some traditionalists in academia. But I find his insights truly important for the debate on what needs to be done to improve the success of post-secondary education in America. (Full disclosure: Kaplan is a subsidiary of The Washington Post Company, where my wife, Melinda, served on the board from 2004 to 2010.)

The United States used to lead the world in the percentage of adults with college degrees, but has now fallen to 10th place. That’s partly because we have such a high dropout rate. While more than two-thirds of students who graduate from U.S. high schools attend college or pursue postsecondary training, barely one-third of those will end up getting a degree. Something is clearly broken.

This is especially worrisome because more than half of jobs today require a college education, and that trend will continue. By 2018, the demand for workers with college degrees will exceed the supply of college graduates by an estimated 3 million. Meanwhile, dropouts and workers with only a high school diploma will have an ever harder time finding fulfilling work.

Rosen believes for-profit institutions, such as his own, are part of the solution because they meet the needs of a wide range of students. They do this, Rosen notes, by offering flexible course schedules in the evening and online, and by focusing their curriculum on the classes that students need to graduate and the knowledge and skills that employers value.

Over three decades, for-profit schools added students at more than six times the rate of traditional colleges and universities. However, that growth also sparked controversy over their marketing techniques to attract students and led recently to tougher regulations. The new rules require for-profit education companies to offer programs that prepare students for “gainful employment” so they can pay down their school loans and reduce their ratio of debt to income. Those changes have slowed new enrollments significantly, so it is unclear whether for-profit schools will continue to outpace more traditional institutions of higher education in the future.

Rosen starts his fairly brief and highly readable book with a quick history of post-secondary education in colonial times, when only the sons of wealthy Free Protestant families attended college. Then he describes the country’s embrace of universal secondary education and the benefits of the GI Bill after World War II, which allowed millions of returning veterans to attend college tuition-free.

To accommodate the country’s growing and increasingly educated population, a fledging collection of two-year colleges rapidly evolved in the second half of the 20th century into the current system of more than 1,000 community colleges. Rosen rounds off the historical survey with a look at the growth of for-profit colleges, including schools like the University of Phoenix, and several run by his own company, Kaplan.

Rosen notes that it is much easier for some students to get through college. He calls these students the “automatics” — they include the most talented and reasonably talented students who went to strong suburban or private schools. But they are not the norm.

To better meet the needs of all students, Rosen suggests creating a common yardstick based on seven risk factors identified by the U.S. Department of Education that make students less likely to graduate. Among these are delayed enrollment, no high school diploma, single-parent status and full-time employment while enrolled. Rosen maintains that these risk factors could be used to reasonably compare schools with similar populations and identify those that are doing the best job of helping students graduate and secure good jobs. This approach doesn’t capture all the key elements, in my view, because it leaves out one important factor — whether or not a student has a clear career goal in mind. But more transparency is a good thing.

Many of the four-year public and non-profit institutions are following what Rosen calls the Ivory Tower Playbook. They add expensive non-academic incentives — such as money-losing sports programs and better living facilities — to attract better students, rather than using that money to increase capacity and improve a student’s education.

He is quite pointed about how the competition to have the best resort-like atmosphere has diverted funds away from the classroom in many schools. And he says these colleges know more about how many kids attend basketball games and which alumni give money than how many students showed up for economics class during the week and which alumni are having a hard time meeting their career goals because of shortcomings in their education.

For Rosen, community colleges follow an All Access Playbook, which is commendable in principle because it allows almost anyone to attend college. But without stronger state support (which is unlikely due to the struggling economy), this broad-access approach is not sustainable and has distracted these colleges from focusing on the quality of learning and reducing dropout rates.

Rosen believes the for-profit postsecondary sector is demonstrating a number of promising approaches in measuring results and improving efficiency in teaching large numbers of students. But he acknowledges that some for-profit schools following what he terms the Private Sector Playbook can fall victim to a short-term focus and, in some cases, fail to exercise adequate oversight.

Rosen has compared criticism of for-profit institutions — which he calls “disruptive innovators” — to the resistance encountered over a century ago by land grant universities, including Cornell and Purdue. Some critics will say that, because Rosen runs one of the for-profit companies, he isn’t as tough on the for-profit sector as he should be. However, I think he does an effective job of explaining what the critics have said about the shortcomings of the sector and how these issues can be handled without overly constraining these institutions.

Yet, there is more than a little irony in the fact that students from better-off families tend to go to private non-profit schools subsidized by endowments or to public institutions subsidized by taxpayers, while many low-income students end up attending for-profit schools with the least subsidy, which means they must assume proportionately higher burdens of student loan debt. Without question, for-profit schools must do better at graduating students with a degree that is valuable in the marketplace.

For all institutions — public, non-profit and for-profit — better measurement is essential to increasing graduation rates and success in the workplace. I am in radical agreement with Rosen that data can and should be used to motivate schools to improve, and that greater transparency and accountability will encourage students and government funders to support the institutions that demonstrate the best outcomes. We should hold all institutions of higher learning accountable for results, and find easier ways to identify and support the best among them.

- Bill Gates, co-founder and chairman of Microsoft and the co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

School Library Journal: Social Sciences/ Education, October 1, 2011

Rosen, chairman and CEO of Kaplan, Inc., has written a smart, easy-to-read overview of the weaknesses of colleges and universities and the benefits of the fast-growing private-sector colleges, one of which, Kaplan University, he heads. He argues that too many public and private universities focus on campus amenities and institutional prestige rather than what their students learn and that community colleges provide access but have an unsustainable financial model. Private-sector universities prosper only because they give students new skills, so they pay close attention to what their students learn and how they can learn better. Rosen presents data and analyses that challenge the usual criticisms of private-sector universities—that they don’t educate and they charge too much, misuse government funds, and recruit too aggressively. While this book will not quiet all critics, it effectively identifies weaknesses in both the nonprofit and the public sectors and should stimulate college presidents to reconsider some of their priorities. VERDICT: A well-written and thought-provoking critique of contemporary higher education of interest to all readers concerned about the future strength of American society.

—Elizabeth R. Hayford, Northwestern Univ., Evanston, IL

Kirkus Reviews: October 15, 2011

An enjoyable look back at the history of higher education in America and the startling new ways it might develop in the future.

The author and CEO of test-prep powerhouse Kaplan is willing to doff his mortarboard to the Ivy League—but only because Rosen is absolutely convinced that one day, often maligned private-sector institutions like his will rule the day. Incredibly, his argument never comes off as self-serving; the author’s thorough exploration of “Harvard Envy” and the rise of “resort” campuses is both fascinating and enlightening. He cites spiraling costs, dwindling budgets and improved technology as some of the many reasons behind this inevitable changeover. If America is going to compete with the global brain trust, the author argues, it will have to be done from behind a computer screen. The prestige that Ivy League schools command is largely due to their exclusivity, a fact that runs counter to the growing need to expose increasing numbers of people to higher education. Thus, somewhere in America, there is a college campus contemplating the highest rock-climbing wall in an effort to woo new students. That’s just about as ridiculous as online distance learning—what might be thought of as the successor to old “correspondence courses”—becoming as viable as Yale or Duke. But both are happening. The U.S., writes Rosen, has no other choice but to look to virtual for-profit learning outlets like Kaplan and the University of Phoenix to boost the number of college graduates.

Presently, this may be the subject of snide editorials and contemptuous hearings, but Rosen envisions a day when for-profit learning centers step up and fill the education gap much in the same way “land grant” and community colleges did in years past. The alternative, he fears, spells trouble for American supremacy in education.

Chronicle of Higher Education Innovations Blog

Andrew Rosen has written a great new book on higher education in America, Change.edu: Rebooting for the New Talent Economy. It is provocative, insightful, and mostly correct. Yet, I predict, it will be largely ignored by the higher-education community. One reason: Rosen is the CEO of Kaplan Higher Education, and probably viewed by many as a biased supporter of for-profit schools, rather than a serious commentator on the general strengths and weaknesses of America’s colleges and universities (this is somewhat ironic, since he has degrees from Duke and Yale, and has lots of nice things to say regarding traditional higher education).

Rosen makes five big points. First, higher education once in a great while is hit with a truly disruptive innovation. He cites the rise of the private-sector (for-profit) schools as one such disruption, and also considers the Morrill Act (which created land-grant schools) and the postwar explosive expansion of universities and community colleges as such examples of disruptive innovations.

Second, Rosen argues that many universities have lost sight of their noble mission because they have been stricken by Harvard Envy, trying to emulate the nation’s most prestigious schools.

Third, much of conventional higher education is an ever more expensive exercise in the dilution of learning and the development of frivolous resort communities (campuses) with emphasis on climbing walls, football, and luxury housing

Fourth, the for-profits are incentivized to focus on student outcomes and learning—paying laser-like attention to this most critical mission of higher education.

Lastly, the attacks on the for-profits for various transgressions are wide of the mark, and, indeed, dollar for dollar, those schools deliver the best value to taxpayers for educating millions of Americans.

Of course, that is what you might expect a CEO of a for-profit college to say. But Rosen says it well, backed up with evidence. He repeats what other observers, including myself, have said for years. Conventional higher education has largely lost its way, losing sight of its original and noble mission of educating large numbers of Americans at a reasonable cost. It has gotten caught up in a costly academic arms race to try to be Harvard, when we cannot have (or even afford) many Harvards.

I don’t agree with Rosen regarding the importance of expanding enrollments and graduation rates, or that we are economically imperiled because the percentage of adults with degrees is starting to fall behind numerous other nations. But on most issues, we think alike.

Rosen opines that “higher education policy makers should seek to reward institutions that show measurable success in four areas: learning outcomes, access, low costs, and innovation….policy makers should cease rewarding attributes…unrelated to these values, things like relative rankings, luxurious facilities, football teams, or the particular tax structure of an institution.” (p. 194)

The way that I put it is that reform must focus on the three “I”s: information, incentives, and innovation. We fail to provide good information that prevents a clear measure of different levels of performance on the most critical outcome—learning. We sometimes reward schools for spending money on non-academic pursuits, raising costs, so we need to redo the incentive system. And we need new ways to do things—more emphasis, for example, on computer-based learning methods which have shown considerable success as a learning device—and at affordable prices. Both Rosen and I are saying this, and so are others.

—Richard Vedder, Ohio University Professor and Director of The Center for College Affordability and Productivity

"Americans know that our primary and secondary schools are woefully under-performing but believe our colleges and universities are second to none. Andy Rosen blows a big hole in that belief, showing that, just when we need to grow the number of students getting a high-quality post-secondary education, our state universities are in financial distress and our private schools are quickly becoming too costly for all but the wealthy. This is a must-read book for those who care about fixing our nation’s higher education problems before they become intractable."

– Former New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein

GettingSmart.com

Not too much sparks the fury of the education status quo more today than the privatization of education and specifically for profit colleges. Forgotten is the original mission of higher education from its origins at the start of our country: to deliver a practical, useful education. Would our founding fathers be embarrassed at the frivolities of the social programs and free form curriculum offered at many colleges and universities without any thought or reason to the useless degrees and unimaginable college debt accumulated to obtain those degrees? Many of these new degree holders are now landing back into their parent’s homes upon graduation instead of the once instantaneous promising jobs and careers.

Rosen’s book starts out with the history of higher education in the United States and the basic question of what the purpose of a college education should be. With the focus on extra curricular activities and the focus of “social opportunities” that many college existences concentrate on, perhaps the original focus of a “practical” education has been overlooked.

This books looks at the background of the earliest colleges in the US such as Berkeley which started out as two different schools, one modeled after Harvard and Yale and the other focusing on a practical education to farming, mining, and mechanical arts. Berkeley in its current life says Rosen “stretches the boundaries of practicality.” Typical classes, which can include the study of scrabble, can be part of the day of study upon which students retire to their spa style dormitories.

Rosen also points out that the ultimate education for many of us is the style of education that the Harvard brand brings. Many colleges have imitated the Harvard style and who of us hasn’t dreamt of the “Hahvard” education for our children? With the inevitable “Harvard Envy” that Rosen outlines is the movement for institutions to market themselves upward by focusing on the prestige of the institution without a focus on student learning. Whole marketing campaigns have been focused on how many have been turned away from admission and how much money has been donated and what capital campaigns are underway to attract even more donors.

With the desperate economy comes a need for a more practical, economical education as many workers retool their careers for new ones or changing careers. President Obama has carried on the recognition of the important role that Community Colleges have in advancing the restructuring of our students educations and worker’s careers through retraining programs. Rosen points out that Community Colleges have also fallen into the trap of trying to “be all things to all people”. These schools are also functioning at this high level without a proper financial model that relies too much on state funding which is constantly cut first when state budgets get cut.

Enter here what Rosen titles “A Crucial Part of the Solution” - private for-profit colleges. Where others leave off, the private online universities and colleges enter the scene. Where scheduling and finances do not fit into or accommodate the new learner, the virtual education easily accommodates the basic and trying financial and time depleted schedules of today’s learner. The rigor and competency of the education offered has been fit into shortened time frames enabling the student of today to educate, where, when and financially when it works for them. The degrees such as the ones offered at Kaplan University (where Rosen is the Chairman and CEO) more realistically meet many more of today’s students needs than a typical, socially exhaustive, expensive university or college setting.

Criticism of the system has been addressed with quick and responsive changes that now address over recruitment practices and offers more personal support systems and tracking of student’s success not only while enrolled in the university but after they have left. Accountability will be the ultimate success of any system and the willingness to change and accommodate the virtual education world will be left on top. Rosen has deftly outlined the reason for the success of these virtual learning institutions and why innovation for the survival of the education system is a must.

- Karen Vander Ark

ZDNet - November 30, 2011

Change.edu: Insights from Kaplan's CEO

Summary: Change.edu: Rebooting for the new talent economy is one of the best books I've read on the changing face of education (and the unfortunate turns that our higher education system continues to take).

I recently had the opportunity to read Change.edu: Rebooting for the new talent economy, by Andrew Rosen. Rosen is the chairman and CEO of Kaplan, Inc., the activities of which reach from brick and mortar test prep facilities to 1:1 tutoring to fully online higher education through Kaplan University. As a result, he's in a unique position to discuss the sorts of changes that can drastically shift how we think about higher education and education in general. The book itself is one of the clearest calls to action I've read as we look for real solutions to problems of opportunity, job growth, access, and competitiveness in post-recession America.

Rosen brings forward several themes that fly in the face of our long-held views and beliefs about higher education. Most importantly, he starts the book by calling out Harvard, our oldest and most respected institution of higher learning. The problem with education is not Harvard or highly competitive schools that turn our bright young minds and vital research. Rather, the problem is what he calls "Harvard Envy."

When schools invest millions competing to be the biggest, most sought-after, highest ranked schools, chasing the Harvard ideal, they effectively shut out hundreds of thousands of students badly in need of higher education but unable to afford it or, just as likely, unable to get into increasingly competitive schools. Unfortunately, too many schools end up, as he points out, in a vicious cycle of one-upmanship. My favorite quote from the book describes this problem perfectly:

In retailing, the two biggest success stories of my lifetime have been Wal-Mart and Target, both aimed at mass-market consumers who'd prefer to save money rather than shop in a pricey department store.

Now imagine a university president who tries to employ the same strategy. "We're currently ranked in the second quartile of the US News & World Report rankings, " she tells her board of trustees one day. "But we think there's a better market for us if we drop down to the third quartile. We'll eliminate some programs, some high-priced faculty, and our sports teams, and be able to cut prices and increase enrollment. We'll be able to fill the dorms. We won't have to give so much financial aid. We'll get more revenue, and it's a sustainable strategy.

While these conversations happen in board rooms around the world every day, as Rosen points out, "any president who suggested this strategy would be run out of town." While there will always be a place for the Harvards of the world, there is also very much a place for market-driven decision making in education that would allow more students to access higher education without incurring hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt (and costing taxpayers billions in grants and subsidies).

It's a powerful argument that he makes throughout the book, outlining ways that market differentiation and decisions based on sound business sense, pedagogy, and philanthropy instead of prestige can have a very positive impact on the growing gap between this country's need for skilled, educated workers and our ability to produce them cost-effectively.

Clearly, the role of technology will be critical to improving access and delivering education cost-effectively and to underserved populations. Online learning, skills-based training outside of traditional undergraduate degrees, and tech-enabled community outreach through local colleges and community colleges can all contribute to a new model for higher education at scale. None of this diminishes the role of our major research universities, but Change.edu asks us to look carefully at our assumptions about what higher education should be and how we can use all of the tools, entrepreneurship, and emerging models to reach a goal of a highly educated populace that can truly compete in a global economy.

This book is a highly recommended read for anyone struggling to reconcile ideas and preconceptions of higher education with the economic realities and technological possibilities of 2012.

- Christopher Dawson

Change.edu: Time to Reboot Learning

One would expect a book by the CEO of a for-profit university to mount a vigorous defense of the much-maligned for-profit higher education sector. But what one might not expect is that the same book would do so in a thoughtful, well-researched manner that discusses not just the place of for-profit universities in education, but also offers a compelling narrative on the state of American higher education across the board—from its elite institutions to its community colleges—and addresses the far larger challenges the country’s colleges and universities must tackle for America to maintain—or even regain—its competitive edge.

Yet that’s exactly what Andy Rosen, CEO of Kaplan, Inc., accomplishes in “Change.edu: Rebooting for the new talent economy,” which whirls through the history of higher education in the United States and into its uncertain future in a refreshingly enjoyable and brief but comprehensive 200 pages.

Framed against the backdrop of America’s need to educate more of its citizens far better, Change.edu is divided into four broad themes. The first is a discussion of “Harvard Envy” and “Club College,” which explains why colleges strive to become bigger and better along dimensions that often don’t line up with improving student learning and causes greater investment in the “educational haves” as opposed to the “educational have nots.” Next, Rosen explores how community colleges are meant to help the educational have nots but have a broken funding model that limits their reach. Rosen then examines the complementary role the for-profit colleges play and concludes with a discussion of how learning should guide government policy for colleges and universities of all stripes in the future.

At times Rosen is intensely critical of many colleges’ and universities’ excesses and limitations. To illustrate the points, he documents everything from a sadly amusing competition to house the tallest climbing wall in Texas to the fact that as state budgets are tightening and unemployment is rising, many institutions are unable to serve more students—as evidenced by California pairing back its public college enrollment by 165,000 in the 2009-10 school year even as the for-profit sector added capacity.

Despite these critiques, his empathy for the different circumstances and missions of all colleges emerges throughout the volume. His love for colleges—not just those that are for-profit—is evident, which makes the book all the more credible. Of course Rosen isn’t an unbiased observer, but he also isn’t criticizing the existence of climbing walls and opulent dorms in and of themselves, but more so the government’s financing of them at the expense of serving more students.

As he writes, “universities receive huge funding and subsidies from U.S. and state taxpayers… via government grants… [and] via government subsidized financial aid or the tax deductions offered to colleges by their nonprofit status and the charitable donations they receive. These subsidies and grants amount to some $15,540 per student at four-year public institutions. Colleges tend to sequester some forms of spending so alumni donors pay 100 percent of the bill, particularly if the expenditure involves a new football stadium. But money is fungible, and allocation of funds to one project frees up money for another. And the tax system is still subsidizing the donors writing the checks and the universities that are cashing them. The $1 million donation from a generous alum in the highest tax bracket is costing the federal government as much as $350,000 in foregone federal income tax revenue—money the government could have spent on something else or returned to taxpayers (or that might have been donated to another cause).”

It’s not that Rosen argues against government support for higher education—there’s a clear economic case for it, he writes. But it’s considerably less clear that taxpayer funds are well spent on a French restaurant because it happens to be inside a college’s student union or on “Michigan’s quest to defeat Ohio State’s football team.”

Indeed, his argument points to a need to recalibrate the funding mechanisms at work in higher education to reward institutions that give students and taxpayers the best return for their money. Rosen makes the case that for-profit schools are in prime position to deliver on this mission—as well as to innovate in the fields of online learning, for example, but here his absolute statements miss the mark.

Although Rosen is correct that, on average, non-profit colleges have convoluted business models that create lots of perverse incentives—and the business model of many for-profits is far simpler (leading to his correct conclusion that it’s not that the “for-profit way of doing education is not so much better or worse than the non-profit way; it is just a different approach”), it doesn’t have to be this way. There are non-profit institutions that have similar and simple business models that operate for far less money than their peers—like Western Governor’s University, for example.

But broadly speaking, Rosen’s larger point on the role of government is on target.

I have recommended creating a “QV Index” to guide the federal government’s spending to accomplish Rosen’s aim, whereby institutions that performed better on measures of student satisfaction and quality—defined as helping students get to where they want to go and improving their earnings—relative to cost and relative to other institutions, would have access to more government financing than would others.

Rosen argues for the government to do this based on four areas: learning outcomes, access, low costs and innovation. I worry, however, about the government rewarding institutions based on tightly prescriptive ways, such as how students do on learning assessments, given that students attend college for a wide variety of reasons—from the culinary to the academic. My hunch is that the QV Index would go a long way toward incorporating implicitly all four of Rosen’s suggested measures without the heavy intrusion of the government that might accidentally suppress innovation—the very thing Rosen wants to encourage and so poignantly writes about throughout.

But this is for policymakers to debate in the years ahead. What Rosen’s book does in the short term is reset the conversation on higher education. He provides needed perspective and ends on a note of optimism and hope that suggests there’s a bright path ahead, as change comes to education.

- Michael Horn, cofounder of the Innosight Institute and co-author of "Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns"

Joel Klein
Americans know that our primary and secondary schools are woefully under-performing but believe our colleges and universities are second to none. Andy Rosen blows a big hole in that belief, showing that, just when we need to grow the number of students getting a high-quality post-secondary education, our state universities are in financial distress and our private schools are quickly becoming too costly for all but the wealthy. This is a must-read book for those who care about fixing our nation's higher education problems before they become intractable. (Former New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein)

Meet the Author

Andrew S. Rosen is chairman and CEO of Kaplan, Inc., one of the world’s largest and most diverse education organizations.  Throughout his career, Rosen has pioneered new approaches to education with a focus on student achievement and success. He is an outspoken advocate for adult learners, and a frequent speaker on the challenges facing higher education in a knowledge economy.  Mr. Rosen holds an A.B. degree from Duke University and a J.D. from Yale Law School. 

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

Change.edu 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The title caught my attention so I was happy to learn about the early history of Higher Education in the United States which is was I was expecting. But that is just the first 2 chapters and then it gave me a whole lot more to think about. I'm not sure if this book has all the answers to the current challenges facing Higher Ed in this country but Mr Rosen shines a light on a lot of information that has not been properly reported in the mainstream news media. It is a short and concise read with many points made with great clarity and force.
djung11 More than 1 year ago
I must confess I had my own biases against the online universities but they have changed, the technology and deliver systems have changed (for the better) and this book shows how this industry is really coming into its own. Time to drop the pretense and get serious about educating adults young and old across the board. This book includes entertaining descriptions of higher ed back when Harvard was founded and some of the lunacy that is going on today with places like High Point paying their way up the University rankings scale and how that really ends up costing everyone. Education is still something we should believe is a worth while pursuing and this book illustrates how we can invest in that pursuit.
Goodtim More than 1 year ago
I know a little about what has been happening with online universities and our countries knee-jerk bias against them. Andrew Rosen starts with the early history of Higher Education in this country in order to make his point about what he sees as the ongoing snobbery and misdirection of funds and aspirations of the Ivory Tower set. Education has been the key to this country's success in the past and the way needs to be paved to help those disenfranchised from the current system so they can better themselves if they have a desire to get an education past high school. Not everyone got A's and B's in high school and now they may need to get a degree in order to improve their lives and stay employed. That whole group of human beings would benefit from options like online universities and flexible learning schedules but traditional institutions are moving at a snail's pace so of course a little entrepreneurial grit can help get that job done. A book well worth reading.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love when a book is densely packed with fascinating details and thought provoking ideas. Mr Rosen shares his unique insight into what is happening in Higher Education and the pending crisis we will face as a country if we don't start fixing this part of our economy and society. Bravo for making concise points and making this engaging material for the general reader as well as the policy wonk.
MTNYC More than 1 year ago
This book has a good balance of detail and readability...for a lay person like myself, it helped me understand how different colleges serve different purposes, but all are important for education/our country's future. Not sure if I agree with everything, but I think I learned a lot.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
M_Adler More than 1 year ago
For anyone interested in education, this is a must read! The ideas presented are thoughtful, well presented, and really make you think about higher education in this country.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
julie98 More than 1 year ago
Informative and detailed look at the higher education ecosystem.