Academics are always mystified that the American public perceives reality differently than they do. It never occurs to the former that the latter may be closer to it.
The American Council on Education (ACE) polled its members at the ACE annual convention on a quartet of questions. “Not surprisingly, most of those at the meeting who took the poll answered, correctly, that the economic value of college is increasing; that half of borrowers indeed owe less than $13,000; that most institutions do try hard to manage costs and limit tuition increases; and that traditional colleges and universities are nonprofit institutions,” Molly Corbett Broad, the outgoing president of ACE, wrote in the Chronicle of Higher Education on May 12, 2017.
Of course, the focus group ACE assembled, representing vox populi, disagreed. Their reaction perplexes Board and her colleagues.
Perhaps they would not be so puzzled if they noticed that:
- For about a decade, the number of working age Americans out of the labor force has risen and now dwarfs the number of unemployed during the last Depression.
- The new business survival rate, going with this trend of joblessness, has dropped from 50 to 20 percent.
- $13,000 is a lot of money, particularly under the conditions outlined above; and
- Universities might be engaged in cost-cutting strategies but the salaries of millionaire college presidents, even at public universities, and appearance of newly minted monuments on campus obscure these efforts.