Timothy Naegele Blog | Of Course Colleges Are Dinosaurs | Talkmarkets
Owner, Managing Partner at Timothy D. Naegele and Associates

Timothy D. Naegele was counsel to the United States Senate’s Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, and chief of staff to Presidential Medal of Freedom and Congressional Gold Medal recipient and former U.S. Senator Edward W. Brooke (R-Mass).  His firm, Timothy D. Naegele ... more

Of Course Colleges Are Dinosaurs

Date: Thursday, August 6, 2020 5:12 PM EST

  By Timothy D. Naegele[1]

As I wrote almost twelve years ago about the Danish author Hans Christian Andersen's magnificent work:

In the fable "The Emperor's New Clothes," two make-believe weavers purport to spin a fine suit of clothes for the emperor, which is made of beautiful material that possesses the wonderful quality of being invisible to any man who is unfit for his office or unpardonably stupid. The potentate and his subjects acknowledge that the garments are very fine indeed. That is, until one little child sees the emperor marching in a procession, and says at last: "But he has nothing on at all" — and the grand swindle is exposed for all to see.[2]

The grand swindle of a college education is being exposed for all to see too, as a result of the deadly Coronavirus pandemic that China unleashed on the world, which will not run its course until the end of 2021 at the earliest.[3]

As I wrote nine years ago in an article entitled "Are Colleges Dinosaurs?":

The exorbitant costs associated with college educations have been rising for a long time now

America’s Middle Class is being priced out of colleges for their kids; and many parents are questioning whether college is worth it, and whether they can afford it.  This is true to an even greater extent when it comes to graduate schools, such as law schools.  As more and more Americans face economic problems during the balance of this decade, which will be true of their counterparts abroad as well, many will find that undergraduate college educations and graduate schools are luxuries that they cannot afford.  Many families will be doing whatever they can just to survive. . . .

Certainly in the case of State-supported schools, where budgetary pressures are dictating that their expenditures be slashed, the twin pincers of parents who cannot afford to send their kids to these schools, and declining budgets, may break the backs of such schools.

Another old friend of mine, who covered Washington for many years as a talented and insightful political and economic reporter and editor, told me recently that colleges are effectively dinosaurs and relics of the past, like newspapers and newsweeklies in this Internet age.  The educational institutions of the future will be online—or so my friend believes—which cost a fraction of what “bricks-and-mortar” educational institutions cost today.  The kids now are computer literate like no generation of the past; and the idea of learning online is second nature to them.

Why spend money on college tuitions and campus living expenses, and professors’ salaries and the infrastructure of college campuses, when everything can be done online for a fraction of the cost?  Why have professors repeating essentially the same lectures year after year, when such lectures can be taped once and shown again and again on YouTube? Why not eliminate “redundancy” and have the best professors teaching students online nationwide, and eliminate the costs of multiple professors?  Why allow “teaching assistants” (or “TAs”) to educate our kids, when the professors are paid to do this?  Why not eliminate colleges and graduates schools in wholesale numbers—just like libraries and book stores are closing or becoming “bookless” because everything is online?

The bottom line with respect to whether education shifts to the Internet might not be a function of conscious decisions by educators or parents: pure economics in America and globally will determine the results.  Falling governmental tax revenues will dictate drastic cuts like never before; and declining personal incomes and home values and foreclosures, and other family sacrifices, will result in changes to personal life styles that will affect the way educational programs are perceived and delivered worldwide. [4]

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