American Higher Education in Crisis?

What Everyone Needs to Know®

by Goldie Blumenstyk

Series: What Everyone Needs To Know®

American higher education is at a crossroads. Technological innovations and disruptive market forces are buffeting colleges and universities at the very time their financial structure grows increasingly fragile. Disinvestment by states has driven up tuition prices at public colleges, and student debt has reached a startling record-high of one trillion dollars. Cost-minded students and their families--and the public at large--are questioning the worth of a college education, even as study after study shows how important it is to economic and social mobility. And as elite institutions trim financial aid and change other business practices in search of more sustainable business models, racial and economic stratification in American higher education is only growing.In American Higher Education in Crisis?: What Everyone Needs to Know, Goldie Blumenstyk, who has been reporting on higher education trends for 25 years, guides readers through the forces and trends that have brought the education system to this point, and highlights some of the ways they will reshape America's colleges in the years to come. Blumenstyk hones in on debates over the value of post-secondary education, problems of affordability, and concerns about the growing economic divide. Fewer and fewer people can afford the constantly increasing tuition price of college, Blumenstyk shows, and yet college graduates in the United States now earn on average twice as much as those with only a high-school education. She also discusses faculty tenure and growing administrative bureaucracies on campuses; considers new demands for accountability such as those reflected in the U.S. Department of Education's College Scorecard; and questions how the money chase in big-time college athletics, revelations about colleges falsifying rankings data, and corporate-style presidential salaries have soured public perception.Higher education is facing a serious set of challenges, but solutions have also begun to emerge. Blumenstyk highlights how institutions are responding to the rise of alternative-educational opportunities and the new academic and business models that are appearing, and considers how the Obama administration and public organizations are working to address questions of affordability, diversity, and academic integrity. She addresses some of the advances in technology colleges are employing to attract and retain students; outlines emerging competency-based programs that are reshaping conceptions of a college degree, and offers readers a look at promising innovations that could alter the higher education landscape in the near future.An extremely timely and focused look at this embattled and evolving arena, this primer emphasizes how open-ended the conversation about higher education's future remains, and illuminates how big the stakes are for students, colleges, and the nation.

  • Oxford University Press; September 2014
  • ISBN: 9780199374106
  • Read online, or download in secure PDF or secure ePub format
  • Title: American Higher Education in Crisis?
  • Series: What Everyone Needs To Know®
  • Author: Goldie Blumenstyk
  • Imprint: Oxford University Press

In The Press

"Filled to the brim with useful facts and even-handed analyses, this book provides cogent answers for parents, students, lawmakers, and anyone else who has questions about our colleges and universities-why they cost so much, are they worth the price, how technology is changing the way they teach, who is responsible for their performance." -- Derek Bok, President Emeritus, Harvard University
"As a nationally regarded reporter, Goldie Blumenstyk brings a unique and objective perspective to the nation's rapidly changing higher education context. This book is an impressive, comprehensive overview of the most pressing-and sometimes controversial-issues confronting higher education today." -- Jamie Merisotis, President, Lumina Foundation
"American Higher Education in Crisis?: What Everyone Needs to Know is a comprehensive analysis of the entire spectrum of colleges and universities in the U.S. Rather than cherry-picking facts to fit a pre-conceived 'disruption hypothesis,' Goldie Blumenstyk provides a clear and concise explanation of the challenges and opportunities confronting the disparate sectors of higher education. This well-researched and well-written book will be useful to students and parents as well as those who seek to understand the full complexity of post-secondary education in the U.S. today." --Mary Sue Coleman, President Emerita, University of Michigan
"Goldie Blumenstyk brings knowledge and insight to the higher education debate. This book is even-handed and smart, and shapes some abstruse, political issues into a brisk, compelling read." --John Katzman, former CEO of The Princeton Review & 2U; Founder and CEO of Noodle
"Overall Blumenstyk gives us an important alternative to the doom and gloom that infects many contemporary discussions of higher education. The deep experience she brings to the subject is refreshing in its detail and accuracy, packaged in an eminently readable format. For someone who has questions about the difficulties facing higher education today, and is looking to understand the potential solutions to those problems being debated now, Blumenstyk provides all the answers." --The Review of Higher Education
"[American Higher Education in Crisis?] will probably be most useful for anyone starting cold and looking to get a handle on higher education issues. It is a must-read for any worried parents of high school upperclassmen, interns, and new-to-the-beat journalists, but readers of any knowledge level will inevitably learn something." --Journal of Student Financial Aid
"Here's a winner, a book for all board members, from a long-time reporter for the Chronicle of Higher Education...[The] book displays a reporter's gift for clear exposition, a keen sense for best sources, and the deeper knowledge of a scholar. An entire board might read it prior to a planning retreat." --Trusteeship Magazine


About The Author

Goldie Blumenstyk is a senior writer at The Chronicle of Higher Education. Her stories have received numerous awards, including first place from the Education Writers Association for 2011 for beat reporting on the Business of Higher Education. She is a frequent speaker at higher-education industry conferences, at events designed for members of the news media, and as a guest on radio and public-television shows.