Our current system of higher education has reached a tipping point. My prediction is that within 20 years’ time, we will be living in a very different reality as far as university education is concerned. Higher education is about to implode.

The issues with higher education in America have been mounting for some time now. But it took the coronavirus pandemic to bring the outlines of the solution into clearer focus.

Higher education is under attack. The attack is coming from all sides. The left condemns universities for their unfulfilled meritocratic pretensions and also takes aim at their prohibitive cost, their admissions practices, and their elitism. The right condemns the politicized content of much contemporary education and, like the left, takes aim at universities for their prohibitive cost, their admissions practices, and their elitism. Both sides have valid points to make, and some of them are the exact, same points. And yet, I think, nearly all those points may be moot. Our current system of higher education, I want to argue, has reached a tipping point. My prediction is that within 20 years’ time at most, we will be living in a very different reality as far as university education is concerned. Higher education, I contend, is about to implode.

There are at least six factors informing my conclusion. They are as follows.

First and most obviously, the cost of college is becoming unsustainable. With the price tag of a single year of tuition at elite universities set to cross the six-figure threshold within the next five years, while the median household income in America is $63,030.00, the math is simple enough and does not require a university calculus course: most Americans can no longer afford what elite universities are selling.[1] According to the Hechinger Report, between 1997 and 2017, tuition, room, and board increased 69% while median household earnings actually fell; in fact, 15% of first-year students had to decline their top choice because of the prohibitive cost.[2] In that light, it is not surprising in the least that a 2017 study of 38 elite colleges led by Harvard’s Raj Chetty concluded that they had more students from the top 1% than from the bottom 60% of the population.[3] A more recent study from February 2020 also led by Dr. Chetty found that the middle class is particularly underrepresented at selective colleges.[4] Nor are loans sufficient to bridge the gap. Even when subsidized and unsubsidized Stafford loans are factored in, about three quarters of colleges remain unaffordable for middle-income students.[5] Moreover, after taking out federal and private loans, something done by nearly 70% of incoming college students, they are saddled with, on average, just under $30,000 in debt.[6] No wonder, then, that when students graduate with this much debt, all the passions and interests with which they began their studies somehow wind up getting narrowed down to what, for most (as Erich J. Prince has lamented in Quillette)[7], are two passion-sapping, interest-killing career choices: finance and consulting. No wonder, also, that when Bernie Sanders and others on the left call for loan forgiveness and free and/or affordable college education, such proposals resonate with so many students and parents.[8]

Second, while universities are hiking prices, many are doing it in large part because they themselves are struggling to get by. Knowledgeable forecasters such as Harvard Business School’s Clayton Christensen predict that half of universities will go belly-up in the coming decade due to their arms race leading to ever-rising costs, coupled with a lower population of prospective college students.[9] According to Moody’s, 25% of colleges are already running deficits.[10] And despite the nominal tuition fees listed in their brochures, universities are able to collect, on average, less than half of their sticker prices.[11]

Third, especially in the wake of the Varsity Blues admissions scandal, the current system of college admissions and even the concept of meritocracy itself are under attack from many voices on the left. They have pointed to the fact that the bribery exposed in the scandal is just the most bare-faced manifestation of a corrupt process in which wealthy parents “donate millions to a target university, or . . . pay tens of thousands of dollars for preparatory private school each year, or . . . spend thousands of dollars on test-prep tutors, or . . . ferry [their] kids from soccer practice to orchestra lessons to bulk up their profiles as college-worthy.”[12] They have brought attention to the manner in which lower-income students face a knowledge and resource deficit at every step of the admissions process.[13] They have argued, with some force, that “merit” is not what it appears to be, as “[r]ich parents spend millions on their children to make them ‘better’ than others.”[14] Books attacking the meritocracy, or the system we have that is passed off as a meritocracy—such as Yale Law School professor Daniel Markovits’ The Meritocracy Trap or Paul Tough’s The Years that Matter Most: How College Makes or Breaks Us—have surfaced in recent years and made the hierarchies reinforced by our system of higher education prominent centerpieces of their critiques.[15] Such critiques surely hit home among the left-leaning professoriate and university administrators.

Fourth, while the left rails against elite university admissions, a good segment of the center-right-leaning electorate is increasingly revolting not only against certain other university admissions practices, i.e., affirmative action (most prominently challenged by the 2018 lawsuit against Harvard by Asian Americans), but also against the content of elite college education, i.e., identitarian studies.[16] In a word, conservative and even middle-of-the-road Americans see no upside to paying hundreds of thousands for the privilege of spending their summers and winter holidays being upbraided and re-educated by their kids eager to hector them for their ignorance of proliferating pronouns, hyphenated intersectional designators, and inexcusable infractions of the latest woke consensus. Such education makes trade school sound like a far better bargain for many. As a systematic, comprehensive essay from Arthur Milikh, writing in National Affairs, argues, the extent to which universities have undermined the fundamental goals of a humanistically—rather than politically—liberal education militates in favor of stripping them of their tax-exempt status, public funding, and subsidized loan privileges.[17] Yale Law School’s former dean Anthony Kronman, a centrist Democrat himself, argues in The Assault on American Excellence that higher education has capitulated to the know-nothing mob and abandoned its commitment to the aristocratic principle of excellence as a counterweight to the democratic principle.[18] Noah Carl, in a two-part essay featured in Areo, has delved into another fundamental issue animating the critique of universities from right: the free speech crisis.[19] Such critiques are well-supported by data, making clear that the steady leftward drift of higher education is no mere right-wing myth. As a 2005 paper from Stanley Rothman et al. concluded, while, in 1984, 39% of faculty were left/liberal and 34% were right/conservative, by 1999, those numbers had undergone a remarkable shift: from 39% to 72% left/liberal and from 34% to 15% right/conservative.[20] The most pronounced leftward shift was in the humanities, with 81% of faculty identifying as left/liberal. A comprehensive National Association of Scholars report from 2018 headed by Mitchell Langbert of Brooklyn College, which tracked the political registrations of 8,688 tenure-track professors at top liberal arts colleges, found that the trend Rothman had identified in 2005 had progressed still further: “78.2 percent of the academic departments in [his] sample ha[d] either zero Republicans, or so few as to make no difference.”[21] A more recent 2020 study from Langbert and Heterodox Academy’s Sean Stevens found that the ratio of professors donating to Democrats as compared to Republicans was 95 to 1.[22] And university administrators—the people who make so many of the decisions that matter on campus—are even further left than the faculty.[23] It would be shocking, given these snapshots of contemporary academia, if the content of higher education had not shifted seismically to the left during the same period or if conservative students in such hostile environs did not feel—as they disproportionately do—pressured to keep their thoughts to themselves.[24] The parents of such students, however, are no longer keeping their thoughts to themselves: they are turning against higher education. With advocates in high places, conservative calls to defund and otherwise undermine universities should strike fear into the hearts of educators.

Fifth, even as it drifts leftward, the substance of university education, particularly elite university education, is increasingly disconnected from the kinds of essential and marketable skills necessary to communicate and compute effectively, as a 2019 National Review essay from Victor Davis Hanson essay argues.[25] During the mid-20th century heyday of the literary intelligentsia, a broad humanistic education armed graduates with cultural fluency, communicative facility, and analytical ability needed to thrive in the society and workplace of the day. Such skills are arguably far less critical in our own contemporary tech-centered economy, but to the extent they remain relevant to many professional pursuits and other aspects of our lives, large swaths of the humanities, as discussed above, have been effectively displaced by parochial grievance studies. Such “learning” may do wonders for certain fragile egos (though, I would argue, contribute to the fragility of such egos in the long run), but it is almost entirely disconnected from virtually every practical skill or remunerative métier. This aspect of the content of contemporary university education, in other words, makes it still harder for students and their parents to give it that old college try and stomach the jacked-up costs they are being asked to absorb.

Sixth, the main commodity universities have to sell is information, but as the socialist thinker and journalist Paul Mason has argued, information in our contemporary economy is always and inevitably slipping out of the grasp of those who aspire to make it proprietary and profitable.[26] Naturally and easily sharable, information wants to be free, or, as Mr. Mason puts it, “[i]nformation goods are freely replicable.” Indeed, today an aspiring student could get a first-rate education for comparatively little or, in some cases, for free on Coursera, CourseHorse, Udemy, or even YouTube. When academic superstars are freely available online, no one needs to pay hundreds of thousands or incur massive debt to hear halting, poorly conceived lectures from some assistant professor preoccupied with his research and grant applications of the sort that matter for tenure far more than ensuring that undergrads have a gratifying educational experience. When we think about it more carefully, in fact, the information colleges offer is—at least for many students who are motivated less by knowledge for its own sake than by the promise of financial rewards upon graduation—not the primary commodity for which students are paying. The first priority for many students is likely the right to put the letters “B.A.” or “B.S.,” followed by the name of a university carrying a certain caché on their resumes. The second priority might be the opportunity to leave home and take up residence in a dorm with all the new freedoms, social and sexual opportunities, and abusable substances galore on offer. A third student priority is the forging of lifelong friendships and other social and professional connections. Knowledge, for many, is likely a distant fourth. But, as we will see below, there is no particular reason these potential benefits of a college education need to be packaged together in their current configuration. And there is no reason they need cost as much as they currently do.

With the six pressure points I have outlined above in mind, I predict that something like the following developments will come our way in due course. It may not all happen precisely like this; indeed, the details are sure to differ, but the general outlines will be consistent with my sketch:

  1. Some enterprising elite university, understanding that it faces an uncertain future, with many students no longer able or willing to foot its bill, and realizing it has an opportunity to expand its brand and capture a much larger market and profit share, will introduce a new, much cheaper “at-home” alternative to its regular on-campus program. Let’s call our program “Harvard-at-Home” for the sake of facilitating the hypothetical. Now, of course, Harvard will not necessarily want to put its actual financial motivation front and center, and so the program will be packaged as an attempt to expand first-rate education beyond the ranks of the moneyed elites. It will be, in this way, presented as a response to those Bernie Sanders-style calls for free or affordable higher education, giving Harvard an opportunity to get a merit badge from the socialist set and their left-minded fellow travelers, even while simultaneously appealing to large segments of the poor and working class.
  1. Harvard-at-Home will take more or less the following form. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, as of 2015-16, 43.1% of undergrads were taking at least some online courses, and 10.8% were enrolled in a degree program that was entirely online.[27] The shift to online learning has accelerated since 2015-16 and is certain to stay on the same upward trajectory. More recently, the coronavirus crisis has seen many universities showing they are fully capable of conducting classes remotely. Harvard-at-Home students will be able to attend and participate in all classroom activities—whether listening to lectures, asking questions, taking part in discussions, accessing digitized libraries, engaging in group work, attending office hours, taking exams or submitting papers—remotely. This, of course, is something easily facilitated by present-day video conferencing and other technology of the sort that already permits near-seamless online conferences, courses, and discussions to go forward in other contexts. To enable the social component of the university experience that is so crucial to students—and that, perhaps, does play at least some constructive role in their social maturation and transition to independence—regional or local communal student living arrangements will fill the role of college dorm life at a fraction of the cost. Initially, I expect, Harvard will open a few regional dorms throughout the United States, and students will be able to choose among those closer to home and those further away (or move freely among them between semesters) or else choose to stay in their parents’ homes entirely. Later, such student housing will proliferate throughout the United States and internationally as well, and although Harvard and other universities may attempt to take various measures to retain students in their own branded housing, eventually they will give in to pressure and economic realities as other private entrepreneurs will see the opportunity to create still cheaper general student dorm housing shared by students in multiple universities—or even by those not enrolled in college at all but seeking a cost-effective and socially desirable transition between home life and the workaday world. An entire market for transitional living, along the lines of post-college dorm housing that has already arrived on the scene, will emerge.[28]
  1. For at least two reasons, the inception of Harvard-at-Home will trigger—and, indeed, necessitate—a further cascade of changes fundamentally transforming what a university like Harvard is all about. The first reason is financial: because Harvard will be collecting a lower per-student tuition fee, it will need to make up for the loss by extending its reach. Fortunately, the second reason—the inherent reach of the technological platform that makes Harvard-at-Home possible—will enable Harvard to do this easily enough. The principal limitation on the number of enrollees at universities is the size of their housing and educational facilities. Only so many students can fit in dorms and classrooms, dining halls, student lounges and so on. The Harvard-at-Home division removes such limitations. Now, a far greater number of students can “attend” the university. Harvard need only hire a sufficient number of TAs to grade exams and papers, facilitate discussion groups, and so on.
  1. This circumstance—a gargantuan number of undergraduates—has monumental implications. It means, first, that admissions do not any longer have to be as limited and selective as they currently are. Harvard will undoubtedly present the substantial widening of its undergraduate pool as a noble, progressive effort to combat the restrictive and elitist meritocracy, but whatever the rationale advanced, the sea change will come. This opening up of the university gates, in turn, will mark the end of grade inflation and a renewed emphasis on GPA. That is because, with a less selective university, the bare fact of a Harvard degree will mean far less than it once did. Graduating from Harvard with a 4.0 GPA will open many more doors than a 3.0, etc.
  1. As soon as Harvard and a few other prestigious universities take the “at-home” route and expand far beyond their current capacities, reaching a much broader student base, there will be no reason for many of our other present-day universities to exist at all. Who needs the Oberlins of the world when one can attend Harvard-at-Home? With far-reaching university closings, as I’ve explained above, already believed inevitable, the new developments I am describing will wreak total devastation as far as the current market players in higher education are concerned. Perhaps a few liberal arts colleges will be able to survive by appealing to nostalgia, marketing themselves as high-end getaways, where wealthy parents will be able to give their kids the no-holds-barred experience of the venerable college cloister, a complete sense of community, with all their classmates on campus, the way things used to be. And maybe a few other specialized institutions will weather the storm. But, by and large, there is no escaping the conclusion that the landscape of higher education will be radically transformed. We will be left with but a handful of major universities, which, rather than possessing the elite caché they currently possess, will be the half-dozen big-name brands still left standing. “Harvard,” “Yale,” and “Princeton” will sound to our ears like “Bank of America,” “Chase,” and “Citibank,” viz., not as markers of particular quality but simply as the reliable known quantities that ate up the competition and are still around.
  1. The transformation in the higher education marketplace will also signal major changes in the manner in which universities are staffed. The model of the modern-day research university that first arose in early 19th century Germany and came to America in the late 19th century always envisioned faculty that could pull off an odd marriage of two entirely distinct skills—scholarship and instruction. But, arguably, the ideal of the monkish, reclusive scholar poring over tomes or experimenting on pea pods in solitude is worlds away from the ideal of the outgoing, sermonizing, gesticulating communicator in the classroom. These ideal types represent different personality types. Figured in terms of the “Big Five” model of personality, ideal teachers, as others have hypothesized, will be high in extraversion, agreeableness (e., warmth, friendliness, tactfulness), conscientiousness, and openness to experience (i.e., being open-minded and intellectually curious), while being low in neuroticism (negative emotions such as anxiety, worry, etc.).[29] Ideal researchers, on the other hand, might tend more towards introversion (collaboration aside, most need to thrive in solitude) and low agreeableness (not following the herd, valuing truth over harmony, and sticking to their guns in the face of criticism) and might even benefit from a bit of neuroticism, which, when coupled with high conscientiousness, might arm them with the kind of adaptive anxiety and worry that drives high achievement. Moreover, because the “research” component of the job generally matters far more for tenure than one’s proficiency as a teacher, mastery of the whole “classroom” thing can suffer from neglect. Any student who has had to sit through lectures that are wooden and slapdash and professors that seem uninterested in their students and to be going through the motions understands the basic problem at a visceral level.

When, however, with the new system of universities that will emerge, lectures are being broadcast to a massive online audience, the notion that some tenure-preoccupied junior faculty member might be stumbling through an ill-prepared talk on some required topic outside his area of specialization and interest is unacceptable. University teaching will be uncoupled from research once again, and it will become professionalized. Superstar professors will deliver lectures that will be recorded and broadcast from year to year or on demand (the way they already are with many online educational platforms), with the bulk of professors’ new job descriptions being to supervise teaching assistants, to stay updated on their field, and re-record individual lectures or entire courses periodically, when important developments necessitate changes (with the students still on campus getting to live-audit only the lectures that are being recorded that semester).

The role of “teaching assistant” will no longer be in the nature of a kind of part-time apprenticeship undertaken by grad students, but rather, will become a profession in its own right, as such “educational facilitators” will be, as noted above, the principal new form of staffing universities will require to accommodate the needs of their massive student body. (The vexing in-between category of the “adjunct” that has occasioned much talk of a crisis within academia will, as part of this process, be eliminated, as adjuncts will become either professors or else educational facilitators, and either way will find the kind of career stability lacking as a result of their presently unresolved status.)[30]

In the meantime, researchers will be able to stick to their books and their labs. The main question—one to which I do not have an obvious answer—is who will continue to fund and house researchers? There is no doubt, of course, that research is vital to any thriving society, and if research is left entirely to private entities with other commercial interests—pharmaceutical and tech companies, ideological think tanks, and so on—the quality and reliability of scholarship will suffer greatly (although, frankly, I do not think that the current ideological climate within academia is conducive to good scholarship either). It is possible, therefore, that universities will see it as part of their continuing educational mission to fund research, which, when successful, will continue to bring acclaim and additional government funding to such universities. Just as contemporary technology untethers students from the physical campus, there is no particular reason for researchers to remain tied to the university commons. Libraries are increasingly digitized. Most research labs can be hosted virtually or, at least, housed in various convenient localities all over the world. Grad students who want to go into academic research themselves (which, again, will be a profession separate and apart from university teaching) will be able to work and collaborate with such research facilities and staff, even as they attend virtual lectures that may be needed to complete their education in their specialty of choice.

  1. The consolidation of universities and the profoundly diminished role of on-campus life will bring major changes in something I could not care less about but which is near and dear to many: college sports. The upshot—beyond I don’t know, and I don’t care—is that some new system will surely emerge that will be tied to the local or regional dormitories and will be supported by universities, corporations, or affiliated professional sports franchises.
  1. The role of government in the domain of higher education will likewise undergo significant changes. On the one hand, with calls for defunding colleges gaining steam and universities becoming sprawling commercial enterprises able to cater to hundreds of thousands of students, they will no longer need government handouts to get by. On the other hand, with each individual university, among the few that survive the mass extinction event, becoming a sprawling commercial enterprises on which the higher education of a rising generation depends, they will need to be and will be subject to a much greater level of government regulation and oversight to ensure that their educational mission is being discharged properly and effectively. In fact, if they become truly international enterprises, some measure of international oversight may even be called for.
  1. The far more commercial character of universities and the greater role of government in their oversight will mean that such universities will need to be significantly more accountable to the demands of the market and the entire electorate. The professoriate will no longer be able to remain an insulated ideological monoculture, and it will, in any event (and thankfully, as far as many of us are concerned), become impossible for hate-filled extremists with axes to grind to continue to instruct students in ideological victimology inconsistent with responsible scholarship and mainstream civic education of the kind necessary to support functional democracies. Higher education will be compelled to return to the basics, a general knowledge, culture and skills curriculum.
  1. Continuing along this same trajectory of a back-to-basics curriculum, this final point, I will confess, is more in the nature of my hope and wish than a prediction, but it is a wish I have at least some reasonable expectation may be fulfilled. I have chosen Harvard to use as my example not only because of its obvious prominence but also because I believe Harvard has an obligation to lead the way in fixing a problem it led the way in creating when, in the late 19th century, the influential Harvard president Charles Eliot, dismantled the old curriculum focused on classics, Latin, Greek, and so on, and instituted an elective curriculum inspired by the Emersonian ideal of self-reliance and that gave students an active role in choosing their own destiny and course of study. Self-reliance might have been a healthful injection of freedom and creative verve into a conservative culture in which life paths were guided by fixed stars and kids matured early into responsible adults ready to take on the world. But, in 2020 America, when petulant, coddled students continue to throw toddler fits well into their twenties if they do not get their way or if their education offends their brittle sensibilities or actually challenges their smug worldview, when “adulting” has entered the lexicon and when kids expect to be able to choose everything, from their hair color and multifarious tattoos and piercings to their sexual orientation and gender, including re-assigning themselves a sex different from the one assigned at birth, preaching yet more Emersonian self-reliance is disastrous. What we need today is a return to a unitary course of study—the classical humanities, logic, rhetoric, core sciences, and even a bit of basic etiquette, as I have argued previously—to rebuild a crumbling common cultural foundation and bring a divided and politicized national community back to center.[31] Those who want to specialize should be going on to grad school, while those who are after more practical learning—accounting, IT, business administration, pre-law, web design, and so on—should be going to trade school, whether after or as an alternative to college (in fact, I would argue, business, law, medicine and the like should also be considered trade schools rather than prestigious post-grad degrees). University should be for those who want a broad academic education, not for those who are merely looking for a diploma to use as a stepping stone toward a six-figure starting salary.

The reason I hold out some hope that my wish for higher education may become a reality in this transformed university landscape is, again, that I see a return to a more basic curriculum with a broader, more general appeal as a likely development and reaction to what is currently a curriculum that, on the one hand, auto-pilots too many students with no intellectual capacities or interests and who would do much better in trade school into a university and, on the other hand, allows students who do have intellectual capacities and interests to burrow into some narrow, overly academic sub-specialty without arming them with a general cultural foundation, with the result that they end up as insufferable know-it-all ignoramuses in a lot of debt and with neither foundational knowledge nor an obvious career path. The system, in other words, is broken in part because universities are trying to do too much and pursuing too many conflicting ends that are a non-fit with student needs. A more market-driven approach will not get us everything we need but may, at least, jolt us in the right direction.

Most of developments I have outlined here are, once they have been described, obvious enough in retrospect. Our current system of higher education is an unsustainable, cumbersome relic of another era, when geographical limits mattered much more than they do today and when a university education was a path leading the children of elites and rising generations of new, would-be elites toward perches in the American aristocracy. Finding themselves increasingly displaced from that familiar role, universities have flailed about and, in a desperate quest to remain relevant, plunged headlong into rococo excesses: lavish student centers, dormitories and football stadiums, grotesque course offerings and majors and, with these, exorbitant tuition fees. Their gambits have not paid off. The new era ahead will force its demands upon them. But for us and for them as well, adapting to the new reality will be a less painful process if we are all aware of what, in all likelihood, lies ahead.

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Notes:

[1] Pete D’Amato, “University of Chicago projected to be the first U.S. university to cost $100,000 a year,” The Hechinger Report, October 30, 2019; see the “Household Income Percentile Calculator for the United States [2019].”

[2] Jon Marcus, “New data shows some colleges are definitively unaffordable for many,” The Hechinger Report, October 18, 2018.

[3] n.a. “Some Colleges Have More Students From the Top 1 Percent Than the Bottom 60. Find Yours.” The New York Times, January 18, 2017.

[4] Raj Chetty, John Friedman, Emmanuel Saez, et al., “Income Segregation and Intergenerational Mobility Across Colleges in the United States,” Opportunity Insights, February 2020.

[5] Alain Poutré, Jamey Rorison, and Mamie Voight, Limited Means, Limited Options: College Remains Unaffordable for Many Americans, published by the Institute for Higher Education Policy, March 2017.

[6] See “A Look at the Shocking Student Loan Debt Statistics for 2020,” published by Student Loan Hero, last updated January 15, 2020.

[7] Erich J. Prince, “Elite Colleges Reconsidered,” Quillete, November 7, 2019.

[8] Hailey Fuchs, “Sen. Bernie Sanders pushes free college and student debt forgiveness – and finds the field crowded,” The Washington Post, August 25, 2019.

[9] Michael B. Horn, “Will half of all colleges really close in the next decade?”, Christensen Institute, December 13, 2018.

[10] Jeffrey J. Selling, “Despite strong economy, worrying financial signs for higher education,” The Washington Post, August 3, 2018.

[11] See “Average Freshman Tuition Discount Rate Nears 50 Percent,” published by National Association of College and University Business Officers, April 30, 2018.

[12] Ian Boost, “What the Scammers Got Right About College Admissions,” The Atlantic, March 21, 2019.

[13] Alanna Schubach, “How the Other Half Goes to College,” Jacobin, April 18, 2019.

[14] Shamus Khan, “How to weasel your kid into an elite college without paying bribes,” The Washington Post, March 14, 2019.

[15] Daniel Markovits, The Meritocracy Trap: How America’s Foundational Myth Feeds Inequality, Dismantles the Middle Class, and Devours the Elite (New York, NY: Penguin Press, 2019); Paul Tough, The Years That Matter Most: How College Makes or Breaks Us (New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing, 2019).

[16] Reihan Salam, “Elite Universities Are Entrenching a Privileged Class. An Endowment Tax Can Fix That.” The Atlantic, October 23, 2018.

[17] Arthur Milikh, “Preventing Suicide by Higher Education,” National Affairs 43 (Spring 2020).

[18] Anthony Kronman, The Assault on American Excellence (New York, NY: Free Press, 2019).

[19] Noah Carl, “Threats to Free Speech at University, and How to Deal With Them—Part 1,” Areo Magazine, December 10, 2019; “Threats to Free Speech at University, and How to Deal with Them—Part 2.”

[20] Stanley Rothman, S. Robert Lichter, and Neil Nevitte, “Politics and Professional Advancement Among College Faculty,” The Forum 3, no. 1 (2005).

[21] Mitchell Langbert, “Homogenous: The Political Affiliations of Elite Liberal Arts College Faculty,” National Association of Scholars, Summer 2018.

[22] Mitchell Langbert and Sean Stevens, “Partisan Registration and Contributions of Faculty in Flagship Colleges,” National Association of Scholars, January 17, 2020.

[23] Samuel J. Abrams, “One of the Most Liberal Groups in America,” Inside Higher Ed, November 8, 2018.

[24] Timothy Ryan, “The Hidden Consensus on Free Expression,” Heterodox Academy, February 20, 2020.

[25] Victor Davis Hanson, “Can Higher Education Be Saved?National Review, January 8, 2019.

[26] Paul Mason, “The end of capitalism has begun,” The Guardian, July 17, 2015.

[27] See the “Number and percentage of undergraduate students enrolled in distance education or online classes and degree programs, by selected characteristics: Selected years, 2003-04 through 2015-16,” published by National Center for Education Statistics.

[28] Janny Scott, “Out of College, but Now Living in Urban Dorms,” The New York Times, July 13, 2006.

[29] See “Teaching and the Big Five: Or, What I’ve Learned from a Dozen Years on Teaching Award Committees” slides.

[30] Geoff Cebula, “Adjunct,” The New York Review of Books, March 12, 2020.

[31] Alexander Zubativ, “In Defense of Civility,” Areo, February 13, 2020.

The featured image is courtesy of Unsplash.

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