Is your college hoodwinking you?

Currently, the federal government gives just 24 cents in postsecondary education improvement grants for every $100 in grants for research.

From an NYT op-ed yesterday on the many deficiencies of college education.

Various solutions are proposed: more funding for better learning outcomes, more data for students and parents on college-specific outcomes (like graduation rates), and making some colleges responsible for the high levels of student debt and default.

Some thoughts:

  1. It’s actually pretty shameful that so few colleges incentivize or enable good teaching, especially the best ones. Incentives are not a terrible idea.
  2. That said, I feel like the op-ed posed solutions without diagnosing the problem. Why is it, exactly, that so many students (and parents) don’t make the single biggest purchase of their life without knowing or demanding more from their colleges? Why isn’t that the financial incentive colleges need?
  3. For a lot of people, their implicit answer seems to be: “Because potential students have poor information, they are enabled by cheap debt, and so for-profit colleges hoodwink people on a mass scale.”
  4. I don’t find this a very convincing diagnosis. But I do not know what the sensible alternatives are.

Pointers?