Buyer’s Remorse

Parents and students paying for college today are like homeowners who bought a house just before the housing bubble burst.

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Parents and students paying for college today are like homeowners who bought a house just before the housing bubble burst. Those of us paying tuition are shelling out enormous sums of money for an asset whose price keeps going up even as the value remains static or declines.

But unlike those hapless homeowners, students and parents (my son is a sophomore at UC San Diego) have a strong sense the market is going to collapse — although foresight is small consolation for those of us watching our bank accounts shrink. The cost of tuition is simply unsustainable — for families as well as employers and civic institutions that depend on an educated workforce.

We tackle these and related challenges in this month’s education issue. Our cover story by Klint Finley profiles Ryan Carson, CEO of Treehouse, an online coding school designed to prepare students for technology jobs. A college graduate, Carson wants to get rid of the expensive four-year degree model for tech education and replace it with what he claims is a more efficient and effective trade-based model.

Carson is, or aims to be, disruptive. Educators, entrepeneurs and students are watching closely to see if he, and others like him, succeed.
In her article, “Tight and Loose,” Jennifer Margulis examines a different approach under way in the K-12 arena. Her story profiles people and projects interested in nurturing the “whole child” by  meeting the emotional, cultural and physical needs of students in addition to the academic.
 Collectively, our education features illustrate the diverging trends driving education policy and practice: a push for standards and employment-focused outcomes on the one hand, and a move to instill a more flexible, holistic view of learning on the other.

Education is about more than meeting benchmarks and getting a job; it’s about socializing, inculcating a love of learning and being inspired by a great teacher.

The question and challenge going forward is how schools, colleges and startups will continue to provide all of those functions — at a cost we can afford. Those of us locked into the current system are eagerly awaiting a solution.

Oregon Business continues to grow. I’m excited to announce two additions to the OB editorial team: Former OB photo intern Jason Kaplan joins us as a staff photographer. Check out his powerful cover photo of Treehouse CEO Ryan Carson.

Joe Rojas-Burke also joins us as an associate editor. A former business, health and science reporter for The Oregonian, Joe wrote our July/August cover story on the privatization of scientific research. His subject expertise, along with outstanding writing and reporting skills, will help us accomplish our goal: to produce compelling, in-depth features that document challenges and innovations in Oregon business, culture and economy. Welcome to the team, Joe and Jason!


CORRECTIONS from July/August:
Our “Downtime” profile misstated the amount of money in the Cascade Angels Fund; it is $460,000, not $460 million. A pullquote in our health care reform story misidentified Ralph Prows’ affiliation; he is the CEO of Oregon’s Health CO-OP. Our Private 150 list inaccurately categorized Patrick Lumber Company’s annual revenue. It is in the $50 million to $75 million range.