I recently read an interesting article by David Brooks called “The Education Gap.” Published in The New York Times on September 25, 2005, Brooks talks about the ability of colleges to address the inequities between poverty and wealth. He points out the fact that only 28 percent of Americans have college degrees but that most of those with degrees find themselves in social situations where almost everybody has been to college.
It is hard to have a day go by where there is not at least one article in the major media about the high cost of college. With the recession and its impact on state and local budgets, tuitions are being increased at many public colleges and universities and some institutions are reducing the number of students attending in order to cut costs for next year.
Public Agenda and the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education (NCPPHE) recently issued their report entitled Squeeze Play 2009: The Public’s Views on College Costs Today. Given the state of the economy, Public Agenda and the NCPPHE decided to conduct a survey in December 2008 that they had conducted two years previously for their Squeeze Play 2007 report.
As part of my ongoing review of some of the literature and topics around the affordability of a college education, I happened to find a publication from the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education entitled The Iron Triangle: College Presidents Talk about Costs, Access, and Quality. Prepared by John Immerwahr, Jean Johnson, and Paul Gasbarra, the report is about a unique piece of research in which 30 college and university presidents were interviewed for their perspectives on the three major issues of cost, access, and quality of higher education (and, the corners forming the Iron Triangle).
In 2003, Michael Silverstein and Neil Fiske published the book Trading Up: Why Consumers Want New Luxury Goods…And How Companies Create Them. As partners at The Boston Consulting Group, Silverstein, Fiske (now the CEO of Eddie Bauer Holdings, Inc.) and others worked to research the consumer purchasing trends in the United States and overseas. The phenomenon that they identified was the willingness of consumers to pay a premium for certain goods even in times of economic downturns.