Good critique; small sample size; not much advice on how to
Shaun King.com | 02/11/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"What follows in this review are quotations and statistics copied almost verbatim from viewing this documentary. I include what I think are the most important historical, statistical, and insightful critiques of the state of current higher education from this DVD....
Every fall, more than 14 million freshman undergrads at 4200 colleges begin higher education. Drinking has always been a problem on campus but in 2005, 39% of students admit to binge drinking. In 2005, 68% of today's college students are working at least 15 hours per week 20 % are trying to hold down full-time jobs while taking a full-time academic work load. 44% of today's college faculties are part-time teachers. On average almost ½ of students at 4-year colleges leave before graduating. 60 years ago public, governmental support for higher education was stronger. FDR signed into law the GI Bill it was a "mass movement" towards higher education. Higher education became the "highway to the middle class." In 1972 the federal government opened to the poor giving low income students grants that did not have to be paid back, these were called Pell Grants. These Pell Grants had about 3 or 4 billion dollars in it and covered about 95 % of tuition at an average 4-year university. "All that began to change when the research indicated that having a college degree added a million dollars to your lifetime earnings." Richard Hersh, former president of Trinity College, adds, "In the last 25 to 30 years since that Reagan Administration, since the 80s, we've decided that it's a private good, that because you benefit from going to college economically your salaries go up." And so we've said well let the individual pay for it then. Kay McClenney of the University of Texas at Austin adds, "Instead of recognizing that higher education has major social benefits." Government funding moved away from grants to low interest loans. Pell Grants that used to pay about 95% of tuition costs only pays about ½ today. Nationally, Merit-based aid has nearly quadrupled in the last 10 years. In 2005 nearly 8.8 billion dollars are handed out to high achieving students because colleges want them. Kay McClenney says that "we're helping the people god already helped, and we're leaving behind people who truly cannot afford to participate in the system." Market forces are what driving the "quality" of competing educational institutions. One of the years that PBS covered Arizona State University, the basketball team brought in 13.5 million dollars in revenue. 4 million went back into the basketball program; 9.5 million helps fund 17 other varsity sports. Coach Lute Olson reportedly earns over a million dollars coaching Arizona which is double the income the president of the university earns. Frank Deford, a sportswriter, says, "Athletics are a goiter on the educational system." The University of Arizona's contract with Nike is worth about a million dollars per year, 350,000 of that goes to Coach Olson. Lara Couturier of Brown University says, "Athletics is one of the areas of higher education that's already gone to far.""
Strong on Problems, Weak on Solutions
stoic | Mobile AL | 08/12/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Declining by Degrees is a sobering look at the current state of higher education. The film examines four very-different institutions: the University of Arizona, Amherst College, Western Kentucky University, and the Community College of Denver. As a college professor, I could relate to many aspects of this documentary.
The two-hour film focuses on three topics. The first hour concerns student life and its relation to the decline in academic standards on U.S. campuses. The next 30 minutes focus on financial issues pertaining to higher education. The final 30 minutes focus on the role of athletics on campus. I thought that the first hour was excellent, but that the last hour was somewhat disappointing. Most viewers won't find the financial issues particularly engaging; Declining by Degrees has little new to say about athletics.
Declining by Degrees is also very short on solutions. Those involved in the video maintain that the only way to save higher education is by spending more tax dollars. Given that the Government has already committed to providing many services for which it currently lacks funds, this seems both unimaginative and unrealistic.
Still, Declining by Degrees is worth watching for its discussion of higher education's many problems.
Declining by Degrees
Amy Owen | 03/24/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Extremely enlightening for faculty, students, and parents! A different view of what a degree means today and perhaps what it does not mean. It gave me insight as a soon-to-be faculty member about how students may think about their courses and as a parent of a college student regarding what to look for in a university and finding the right match of college to student for a better education. It is a very eye opening look at college life and how students view the college experience. Bold face-to-face interviews with students and faculty gave me ideas about how to engage students in the classroom and hopefully encourage learning."