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Confessions of a Community College Dean


Anthony Carnevale proposed this week that one way to help ensure that colleges have the capacity to offer enough high-demand programs is to charge more for them. Specifically, he proposed different prices for different majors. The idea is that high-cost programs with excellent employment outcomes for students – say, cybersecurity or nursing – will still attract students even with higher prices, and the new resources generated through higher tuition will allow colleges to pay the costs entailed in running such programs. Meanwhile, majors like English or history will charge less.

I’m not sold on it, but I can see how he got there.*

Carnevale is a veteran analyst of higher education. He points out, correctly, that what look like differences in earnings between graduates of different institutions are often, in fact, differences in earnings by various majors. Graduates of social work programs tend to make much less than graduates of engineering programs, so the schools that focus more on the latter will tend to have higher average earnings. (For present purposes, I’ll just register my oft-expressed frustration that community colleges’ graduates’ earnings are usually folded into those of the highest degree level they subsequently attained. This leads to a spate of […]

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