April 6th, 2013
08:41 PM ET

America's higher education problem

"Fareed Zakaria GPS," Sundays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN

As you know, American higher education remains the envy of the world, and it has been the nation's greatest path to social and economic mobility, sorting and rewarding talented kids from any and all backgrounds.

But there are broad changes taking place at American universities that are moving them away from an emphasis on merit and achievement and toward offering a privileged experience for an already privileged group.

State universities – once the highways of advancement for the middle class – have been utterly transformed in recent decades, under the pressure of rising costs and falling government support.

A new book, Paying for the Party: How College Maintains Inequality, shows how many state schools have established a "party pathway," admitting more and more rich out-of-state kids who can afford hefty tuition bills but who are middling students.

Watch the video for the full take or read the column at TIME

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Topics: Education

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soundoff (19 Responses)
  1. JAL

    Education is going through a period of new growth. It will take some time to evolve. Computers, internet, tablets, smart phones. It is a different time.

    April 6, 2013 at 8:51 pm | Reply
    • JAL

      Luckily, our friend, Bill Gates, seems to be taking a particular interest in this area.

      April 6, 2013 at 8:53 pm | Reply
      • j. von hettlingen

        Hopefully we will see a new generation of autodidacts, who could learn from books and the internet, without going to school, as education becomes too costly. These people will no doubt need loads of motivation and encouragement from parents and friends to get a degree.

        April 8, 2013 at 5:14 pm |
  2. desaibankim

    Western universities started compromising merits long back.All tests & screening s are for students from middle and low income group families. The way children of ruling & super rich, moneyed class world over get into these universities & get a feather cap shows the malady that has inflicted these temples of knowledge.Agreed that money is the prime factor to run the show, but, these universities have earned prestige over the years on the basis of merits & not money. in this context i urge my friends to read my Blog and criticise me ruthlessly.

    April 6, 2013 at 10:12 pm | Reply
    • Armin Sachse

      It seems that a significant portion of tuition fees for all students are directed toward the sports programs regardless of whether the student is or wants to participate in any sports program.

      Makes no sense and does little to support the real economy.

      April 7, 2013 at 10:18 am | Reply
      • gophergenius

        I agree. When I review my son's itemized tuition/fee costs and view what he is charged for all this athletic "stuff" I am just disgusted. He is not an athletic person, only took his required PE courses and every semester we pay for it. I would prefer those fees to be used in the Math/Science departments. That is the future, not sports.

        April 7, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
  3. Fortheunderdog

    In reference to the bashing of the athletes on GPS, What about the increased social mobility of athletes because of their chance to receive a college degree. Any studies of that?

    April 7, 2013 at 12:27 pm | Reply
    • gophergenius

      I do not think anyone is bashing you, but only a few really make it to the sports teams that make big money. Students need to informed that a good education, not just sports, is needed, not all are going to make these professional teams.

      April 7, 2013 at 2:30 pm | Reply
    • Mike

      Yes, people will agree that there is an increased social mobility for athletes, but there is a gap between the amateur athletes and those who plan to go professional. Remember the original purpose of the Ivy League Schools was to support Amateur Athletes. This was also true for the NCAA, but no it has sadly become a training ground for professional athleticism. In my opinion I think it is important for people to remember that any University’s purpose is to conduct research, not to support athleticism. There are many organizations that already do such task, and if you go around the world America is the only country where collegiate athleticism exist.

      April 7, 2013 at 4:14 pm | Reply
  4. mal

    Did anyone catch the name of the book of the week on GPS – 4/7/13

    April 7, 2013 at 12:41 pm | Reply
  5. Jack Heinsius

    Lets start factoring the general student body grade point average into the team scores and then see who gets into the Final Four.jack

    April 7, 2013 at 1:32 pm | Reply
  6. Jerry H


    April 7, 2013 at 1:58 pm | Reply
  7. karlidsvoog

    The primary purpose of a Division I university in the United States is to be a cost-free training ground for the NFL and the NBA. The highest paid public employee in state after state is either a college football coach or a college basketball coach. At most universities, athletics is a multimillion dollar budget hole that the university plugs by making the academic students pay. Here are the numbers for the Mid-American Conference. http://et.kent.edu/jmc40004/fees/

    The university department that spends the most to recruit students is the athletic dept. The university department that gives the most full scholarships is the athletic department. The university department that pays the highest salaries is the athletic department. The only department that gives free cars to instructors is the athletic department. They're able to do all this for one primary reason: the failure of the press to do its job. The press doesn't ask questions, just like it did for the war in Iraq, it plays cheerleader.

    Reporters should be asking university presidents and provosts to explain how supporting a sport that causes brain damage is consistent with a mission of education. That won't happen because the press plays cheerleader.

    When journalism fails, bad things happen.


    April 7, 2013 at 2:51 pm | Reply
  8. Andrew

    Europe has better quality and many more universities. They also have many more corporations, that produce high-quality products. America needs new investments into American corporations, that produce best quality products for global markets. American leadership can not be achieved with imports, no fiscal health neither.

    April 10, 2013 at 5:22 am | Reply
  9. Ainur

    Hello everybody! Wh is interested to get education and experience we invite you to our university http://www.enu.kz/en/

    April 21, 2013 at 3:19 am | Reply
  10. Ainur

    The quality of education is dependent to a large degree on teacher and his professional competence. Professional competence of teacher requires special knowledge and skills directed to development of cognitive and communication needs and capabilities of students; expresses his theoretical and practical commitment to the implementation of pedagogical activities and characterizes his professionalism.

    April 21, 2013 at 4:20 am | Reply
  11. delo9s

    The problem with the american education system is that it is not an education system but a profit producing system.
    Which purpose is to turn a profit not to educate or enlighten.

    April 24, 2013 at 4:57 pm | Reply

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