College 101: Soaring Student Enrollment in a Fixed Set of Accredited Colleges (Part 2 of 5)

In the second part of my 5-part series on US colleges, I make the following point: college enrollment in the US has soared over the last 50 years, and a nearly finite set of colleges have sponged up the growth, free of new entrants.

Specifically, college enrollment in the United States has exploded over the last half century, up from about 4 million students in the late 1950s to more than 20 million students today. 65% of US high school graduates now enroll in college.

College enrollment growth has been driven partly by a large increase in the number of high school graduates in the US and partly by large public subsidies for higher education.

That college is increasingly common in American society is generally good news. Going to college is – or at least, should be – a recipe for all kinds of good outcomes for students and society. 

But there is a glaring oddity in the college expansion story of the last 50 years.

Namely, for the last several decades, college enrollment growth has been monopolized by a nearly finite set of about 3,200 incumbent colleges that have accounted for 90-98% of college enrollment.  These incumbents are approved in state law and have status as accredited institutions -- a status that grants them unique access to large public subsidies puts them in almost sole control of enrollment.

College 101: The Syllabus (Part 1 of 5)

From our charter school here in Boston, we have sent 11 classes of high school graduates to college since we first opened our doors in 2000. We work hard in our high school to find good colleges for our students – colleges where they can earn a quality degree, at an affordable price -- and we continue to believe profoundly in college as a pathway to economic safety for our students.

But, in interacting the US college sector over the last decade, we have witnessed firsthand the uneven quality and skyrocketing costs of the US college sector. We now worry about its general state...

Teaching the Teachers

The Economist, as only that magazine can, covered the vast world of teacher training and good classroom practice a couple of weeks ago with a cover story titled “How to Make a teacher.” Succinctly put — and anything else would be a mis-step considering the publication in question — the article is topnotch. A few pages of perfect summation...

Advanced Placement Exams: The Achievement Gap in Boston (Part III of III)

In this third and final blog on the AP, I’ll cover the AP exam participation and performance gap in Boston and our ongoing work at Match to close that gap.  I am struck – and have always been struck – by how little debate is devoted to the glaring race- and income-based achievement gaps that characterize the AP in our city. It’s a topic worth talking about.

Advanced Placement Exams: The National Achievement Gap (Part II of III)

In Part II of this series, I will cover the hard truth that most American high school students never take or pass an AP exam, and AP exam participation and performance varies alarmingly by race and income.