Custom Search

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

College Finances and the ETS: Higher Ed is a Cash Cow, with the Student Being the Cow

I haven't written about higher ed issues (costs, value, etc) in part because my children have graduated (debt free, thank heavens) and because the issue is still too depressing. The kinds of issues I was struggling with years ago (is it "worth it" to go for a more prestigious college? how can one save if college costs rise at twice the rate of inflation? do schools offer "merit aid" and then nullify it with tuition increases in subsequent years, and so on). are--alas--with us still. Indeed, they are perhaps exacerbated by the fact that the job market is still difficult for recent graduates.

My clever title is borrowed from a piece I recently read in a new-to-me publication. The costs, the growth of the administrative class, the growth of the non-tenured instructor/part-timer class, yeah, I've seen it all. I used to tell my children that I felt that higher ed involved "trickle-up economics," with the borrowing/paying student enriching all those who stood to profit. The article in the link puts it better: higher education is a cash cow and the student is the cow.

Among the beneficiaries: the Testing Industries, you know, GRE, SAT, GMAT, MCAT, LSAT, and all others. Miss Em recently took the GREs and I was stunned to learn that the test cost over $160. Thankfully, she does not plan to take it again, having done well enough the first time.

I had this in mind when I received an email from Educational Testing Service, which puts out the tests. ETS wanted to know what works little old me taught in a survey course. I could contribute to the public weal (and to the AP Exams) by taking a survey. AND--as a reward--I could request a copy of the results.

You have got to be kidding, Mr and Ms ETS. My late father was in the survey biz and I remember that professionals who took surveys were compensated. So I shot back an email--which no doubt was not read--saying that if the ETS made money on the tests (it does) then the ETS should compensate with SOMETHING. I got another email a few days later, to which I made the same useless reply.

Take this out of your library!


Rosa said...

The ETS survey story reminds me of years ago when I was at university, one of the big textbook companies came fishing around the upper division science courses I was taking looking for students to "volunteer" their time to make recordings of upper-division science textbooks for visually-handicapped students. Of course, despite their turning around and selling these recorded texts to our and other universities, the textbook company wasn't going to pay the students who provided the readings (and, when I asked, it was estimated that it would take 40 to 60 hours of work minimum per student "volunteer"). It really was being sold as a volunteer position to help out handicapped students.


Patience_Crabstick said...

It's ridiculous, not to mention that The College Board's website is ridiculously difficult to navigate. My daughter is a college student, and for her art education minor, she has had to take several expensive standardized tests. (PRAXIS, I think?) They cost over $100 each and for the last one, something was unsatisfactory about her ID, so she was not allowed to take the test and then was forced to pay the full fee to register again.

Frugal Scholar said...

@rosa--UGH--that story is worse than mine. One publisher treated two colleagues to an all-expenses paid trip to Boston--ostensibly to consult on something. That suggests how valuable our book orders are!

@PC--Of course! My son will be taking the Praxis--I am beginning to gnash my teeth. Luckily, he's a pretty good test -taker. I've had many students who take it multiple times..and these are students w/out a lot of money.