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April 22, 2019 at 10:34 am

Vedder in Wall Street Journal | College Wouldn’t Cost So Much If Students and Faculty Worked Harder

Dr. Richard Vedder, portrait

Dr. Richard Vedder

Dr. Richard Vedder, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Economics at Ohio University, authored an op-ed column in the Wall Street Journal headlined “College Wouldn’t Cost So Much If Students and Faculty Worked Harder.”

The subhead is “I assign far less reading, demand less writing, and give higher grades than I did two generations ago.”

One reason college is so costly and so little real learning occurs is that collegiate resources are vastly underused. Students don’t study much, professor teach little, few people read most of the obscure papers the professors write, and even the buildings are empty most of the time.

Read more in the Wall Street Journal.

Vedder’s column was referenced by Paul Caron in the TaxProf Blog.

The New York Federal Reserve says more than 40% of recent college graduates are “underemployed,” but many already are while in school. Surveys of student work habits find that the average amount of time spent in class and otherwise studying is about 27 hours a week. The typical student takes classes only 32 weeks a year, so he spends fewer than 900 hours annually on academics—less time than a typical eighth-grader, and perhaps half the time their parents work to help finance college.

It wasn’t always this way. As economists Philip Babcock and Mindy Marks have demonstrated, students in the middle of the 20th century spent nearly 50% more time—around 40 hours weekly—studying. They now lack incentives to work very hard, since the average grade today—a B or B-plus—is much higher than in 1960 when the average grade-point average of around 2.5 implied a typical grade of B-minus or C-plus.

Read more at the TaxProf Blog.

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