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Saturday, September 28, 2013

"The college drinking game"

Jonathan Zimmerman from NYU tells it like it is relative to college drinking and weak academic challenges at many US colleges.

College should be interesting, broadening but most importantly - hard work.  Many colleges have failed this last criteria substituting gorgeous campuses, climbing walls and resort-like dorms for more hours at the chemistry lab.

We don’t require today’s college students to read enough, write enough and study enough.  What do you expect for your $250,000 education?

Zimmerman has a few sobering statistics:
1    *      In 1961, the average full-time college student spent 25 hours a week studying; by 2003, it was down to 13 hours a week.”

2    *    “In a typical semester, half of our college students don’t take a single class that demands 20 or more pages of writing. A third don’t take a class requiring 40 or more pages of reading.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Universities are driven by need to compete in university league ranking tables!

"Despite so many fat years, universities have done little until recently to improve the courses they offer. University spending is driven by the need to compete in university league tables that tend to rank almost everything about a university except the (hard-to-measure) quality of the graduates it produces."

"In 1962 one cent of every dollar spent in America went on higher education; today this figure has tripled. Yet despite spending a greater proportion of its GDP on universities than any other country, America has only the 15th-largest proportion of young people with a university education."

"Almost a third of students these days do not take any courses that involve more than 40 pages of reading over an entire term. Moreover, students are spending measurably less time studying and more on recreation."

"A remarkable 43% of all grades at four-year universities are As, an increase of 28 percentage points since 1960. Grade point averages rose from about 2.52 in the 1950s to 3.11 in 2006."

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Wharton Puts First-Year MBA Courses Online for Free

“While you won’t get the full Wharton on-campus experience—or an internship, career services, or alumni network, for that matter—the new courses in financial accounting, marketing, and corporate finance duplicate much of what you would learn during your first year at the elite business school, says Don Huesman, managing director of the innovation group at Wharton.

“Huesman says the MOOCs are not watered-down versions of Wharton’s on-campus classes. In fact, some professors at the school are using the MOOC content in their own classes, asking students to watch the lessons beforehand so that class time can be used for discussion—a practice known as “flipping” a class.”

Times are a changing and for the better.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

How Valuable is Harvard's Brand?

Here is a very insightful piece about the real value of a Harvard MBA versus this degree being a proxy for ability.

Jose Ferreira (Harvard MBA grad) makes the case that rather than Coca-Cola having the most valuable brand, that the top colleges have owned it for decades. And that brand may be very much at risk.

In my book Lucky andGood: Risk, Decisions and Bets for Investors, Traders and Entrepreneurs, I make the argument that one needs to separate the “Pride-Of-Ownership Premium” from the underlying future cash flow.

In the case of an Ivy League education, there is little doubt that one pays more for a degree than at the local college. And in fact the education may be better. But how much better? If the education is only 20% better but the cost is 150% more, then the difference should be attributed to the “Pride-Of-Ownership Premium.”  

Find Lucky and Good: Risks, Decisions and Bets for Investors, Traders and Entrepreneurs at Amazon.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Why is the Cost of College "too damn high?"

This piece discusses the expenditures on new gym facilities with fancy climbing walls. 

In most industries, the business must balance the services they provide with their cost.  Getting that balance right is usually make or break.  But colleges for the last several decades have succeeded by spending more on fancy dormitories, sports facilities and park-like settings in order to “trap” their customers.  And their typical 18-year old customer only cares about what they have to pay today without regard to what they will be on the hook for later on.