Stanford economist Caroline Hoxby has published a new study showing that the conventional wisdom about rising competitiveness in university admissions is a myth. Selectivity has increased at top schools, while decreasing everywhere else, causing a greater concentration of top students at the top schools. But that isn't the only interesting tidbit in Hoxby's grab-bag
of provocative conclusions. As bloggers digest all the new information, here's what they're focusing on:
- Students Are Actually Getting a Good Deal The takeaway for The New Republic's Zubin Jelveh is that the students who manage to make it into the most selective schools "have managed to get a really economic good deal." Jelveh points to Hoxby's finding that, while tuition has risen considerably at top schools, the amount the school is spending on students has also risen.
- Interesting Business Model--But Is It Socially Wise? The Economist's Free Exchange blog focuses on the rationale behind throwing all this money at students, ties it back to the tuition debate, and poses a provocative exit question:
The business model here is pretty easy to understand. Top schools have
every expectation that their graduates will go on to make boatloads of
money, some of which will find its way back to the university ... Educational operations at top schools are financed
almost entirely by sources other than tuition, and they can afford to
offer heavy subsidies to students, ensuring that any student good
enough to be accepted can afford to go. This model has worked so well
that some of the best schools have assembled massive endowments
totalling tens of billions of dollars (see: Harvard). And this state of
affairs adds crucial context to the debate over the effect of rising
And it raises an interesting question: from the
standpoint of societal welfare, should we want the students who can
expect to receive the highest return to their human capital investments
to be most responsible for financing their own education, or least
- Hoxby Is Wrong So the "top 10 percent ... are spending more per student than ever before," writes The Washington Post's Jay Matthews. Hoxby "says [this] makes them better. I think she is wrong, which I hope will motivate her to stick it to me with more data, thus moving this useful debate forward." Top schools spending $92,000 per student does not make them better, he argues. Most of the expense difference "can be explained by salaries," he says, and furthermore, the difference in professors' salaries between the top 10 percent schools and the top 20 percent schools "where I suspect most Ivy League rejects end up, is probably not that great."
- Overall, Great for Students Lull Mengesha of The Only Black Student blog looks at the increases in spending per student across the board and concludes that "students across
the board will be receiving a better education all around. Even if they
are going to Universities and Colleges that are not as well equip[ped] as
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