Originally Posted by newtogolf
... I am pretty involved in our school system and there's a huge number of kids who weren't strong academically that are going to 4 years schools and aren't even declaring a major. They are using the 4 years to figure out what they want to be when they grow up, instead of going to a much less expensive two year school and transferring when they figure it out. I don't have an issue with that except when you factor back in the cost of a four year university and burden of student loans it doesn't seem like a good use of money. Conversely as a tax payer, I don't want to pay even higher taxes to send kids to school so they can party for 4 years. ...
I'm a business professor at a mid-sized Midwest private university where I teach primarily strategy and international management. I served in the military and spent a decade as a newspaper reporter before I returned to school and earned a PhD.
newtogolf, your remarks remind me of comments from a colleague who got his undergrad degree in England. If you want to attend an English university, you apply to the school's history department or physics department. If you want to change majors, you have to reapply to the new department. In the USA, we have too many students who show up to college "to try to find themselves." After four years of HS and guidance counselors, you would think students would have more focus on where they wanted to go.
Then, there's the kids from bad economic situations. In north St. Louis County, several school districts are losing accreditation. One school district has 1,300 students who are homeless. It's hard for a kid to get traction academically when you're bouncing from shelter to shelter every couple of weeks.
From the University side, the fact is USA has excess capacity in higher education. We simply have more classrooms and dorm beds than the USA can fill, given the decline in high school graduates which started a couple of years ago. Expect this decline to last for many years, worsened by the dip in marriages and birth rates from the recent Recession.
Shutting down unneeded universities will be tough, much like trying to shut excess military bases. One example is Panhandle State University in Oklahoma, with enrollment of 1,200. In the late 1990s, state economists determined that Oklahoma would be better off to shut down Panhandle: if all potential in-state students got 4-year scholarship to a larger school, the state could save several million dollars a year. Regional legislators shot down the idea, because Panhandle was the only employer of any size in Texas County.