Community Colleges, the Value of Degrees, and Changes in Admissions

Tuesday, October 3, 2023 - Jeff Selingo and Michael Horn review recent headlines around higher ed before they speak in person to a community college board at a retreat in Sun Valley, Idaho. They compare the different value propositions of two- and four-year colleges and discuss government intervention into university mergers and acquisitions. Other topics they discuss include legacy admissions and the value of credentials from prestigious universities. And Jeff makes an exciting announcement: his new book! The episode is sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Ascendium Education Group.

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Jeff Selingo and Michael Horn review  recent headlines around higher ed before they speak in person to a community college board at a retreat in Sun Valley, Idaho. They compare the different value propositions of two- and four-year colleges and discuss government intervention into university mergers and acquisitions. Other topics they discuss include legacy admissions and the value of credentials from prestigious universities. And Jeff makes an exciting announcement: his new book! The episode is sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Ascendium Education Group.

Key Moments

00:00 Intro

00:03:36 Declining enrollment at community colleges.

00:09:35 Co-location with four-year colleges.

00:12:13 Dual enrollment in community colleges.

00:14:28 Dual enrollment funding disparities.

00:18:29 Merger and acquisition reviews.

00:22:03 Community college focus on employment.

00:24:24 Legacy admissions in higher education.

00:28:56 Seeing colleges as businesses.

00:31:21 Cheaper credentials and alumni networks.

00:34:30 Planning for college challenges.

Links We Mentioned

Dually Noted: Understanding the Link Between Dual Enrollment Course Characteristics and Students’ Course and College Enrollment Outcomes

How Can Community Colleges Afford to Offer Dual Enrollment College Courses to High School Students at a Discount?

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Jeff Selingo:

So Michael, if you think about the major headlines about higher ed in recent years, it's been one dominated by decline and change. Enrollment decline, change in how we think about the value of the degree, change in the admissions process from test optional to race conscious admissions.

Michael Horn:

Yeah, Jeff and it's funny when we first started planning the show back in 2017 like, Future U, itself. I think if we're being candid, we wondered if there would be enough to talk about if we just recorded a couple of times a month. Now frankly, the headlines seem to whizz by and higher ed trends emerge so much more quickly that it certainly makes it difficult for those on campuses to keep up. And as a result, we've stepped back and said, "On Future U today, let's dig deeper on a few more issues ranging from community colleges to legacy admissions." All these headlines that keep coming up that are front of mind for a lot of folks right now.


This episode of Future U is sponsored by Ascendium Education Group, a nonprofit organization committed to helping learners from low income backgrounds reach their education and career goals. For more information, visit

This episode is brought to you by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, working to eliminate race, ethnicity and income as predictors of student success through innovation, data and information, policy and institutional transformation.

Jeff Selingo:

I'm Jeff Selingo.

Michael Horn:

And I'm Michael Horn.

Jeff Selingo:

So Michael, it's good to see you in person beyond the Future U Campus tour where We're together visiting a campus, we really don't record in the same studio any more like we did back in the pre-Covid days. So do you want to tell our listeners where we are today?

Michael Horn:

Absolutely. Although I'll reflect in the pre-Covid days, we used to land in studios together and do three shows and it's very different, but we're not in DC or Boston where we used to do that. Instead, we are coming to you from Sun Valley, Idaho. Which I'm going to guess is probably not on anyone's bingo board who's listening right now. But we were invited here by Gordon Jones who I first got the chance, Jeff, to meet back in 2016.

A year earlier Gordon had left Harvard where he had helped start the i-Lab, which was an experiment at the time at Harvard. That's actually been quite successful in incubating startups across Harvard University and bringing students together across all of its various schools that, as you know, don't always talk to each other or communicate. It's really been a hub to bring people together and then he left the Harvard i-Lab and he went west to be the Founding Dean of the College of Innovation and Design at Boise State University.

Jeff Selingo:

And that's really going west.

Michael Horn:

That is really going west. And now here we are surrounded by the mountains and he's the president of the College of Western Idaho and he asked us here today to speak to his trustees and senior leadership about the future of education.

Jeff Selingo:

Michael, for those listeners who might be unfamiliar with it, the College of Western Idaho is a community college and a pretty new one at that. It was created in 2007 in Boise, which was the last major metro area in the US that lacked a community college. And it was launched with a major support from the Albertson Foundation of supermarket fame. And get this, it serves over 30,000 students.

And the reason I mention this all, Michael, is because two year colleges have been really struggling with enrollment. And while the headlines will have us all believe it's largely because of the pandemic, they've actually been losing students for much of the last decade. The number of students at community colleges have fallen 40% since 2010, some 2.6 million students according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. And so I think We're here at a really interesting time for the sector.

And in a conversation with the College of Western Idaho here in Sun Valley, Gordon asked us how community colleges fit into the larger ecosystem of higher ed right now. And he also told us that when he's with his two-year counterparts from around the country, they seem to get what their four-year counterparts don't get about what institutions need to be relevant right now. And so I'm curious, do you agree with him that community colleges get that, get what four year colleges and maybe you could share with our listeners how you answered that question when he asked it.

Michael Horn:

Yeah, absolutely, Jeff. Look, what I said is I get why he says that his counterparts believe they get something, they see something if you will, that their four-year counterparts don't. And I think what it boils down to is on a two-year campus, it's not controversial to say that the big goal of the students here is to get jobs, like the faculty, the programs. People are really interested in helping people get jobs. They want to get them ready for the labor market and they all have that sense that this is important for our students.

And then secondly, it's important that it's low cost. Those don't always feel as intuitive, I think, for our friends on four-year campuses and it's quite controversial, I think in many cases. We know the tuition spikes at four-year colleges. We've talked about those and we know that many faculty members, even frankly if the administrators see it, I think the faculty members they're a little resistant to this purpose of getting people into good jobs.

That said, Jeff, and this is the caveat to it, I think it's not all clear that the track record of community colleges, meaning the outcomes that they get, writ large across the sector, I'm not speaking about any specific college is that great on this accord. And I think part of the problem is the data isn't very good on this. Meaning It's not very clear. We don't actually ask a lot of questions about the labor market outcomes of community college grads.

Instead, we tend to measure in terms of academic outcomes. So you get the roughly 40% completion rate within six years or we talk a lot about academic transfer, we always say 80% roughly want to transfer to a four-year school that go to a community college, only roughly 30% actually do. And I think we shortchange community colleges to be fair to them.

First let's say those outcomes are not good. We wish they were better. And it strikes me anyway that a lot of students probably in the middle of a program are like, "I just got a better job. I'm going to drop out." We don't count that we probably should as some sort of success. And we don't really have a way of answering the question, "Are they all that good at producing labor market outcomes?"

And to me, Jeff, I think that comes back to the confused missions of community colleges. So while they talk the talk nicely about labor market outcomes, my sense is that they're actually very deeply conflicted places that get questionable outcomes because they're not sure what they're trying to optimize for. Are they trying to optimize for this academic transformation that as, Rick Levin, former Yale President told us? We don't do a good job of. That's not something that they do well, but it's been front and center of how they design programs, gen ed requirements, all the things that they put up front. Is it for jobs?

And if it is, you probably would design them pretty differently. So it's not clear they're optimizing on that. And then certainly one third outcome that they often optimize for is community value. Whether that's, enrichment, continuing education programs in the community. Or Montgomery College near you has a great jazz program for example, things like that. And you compare that to some of the emerging things in the space, the hybrid college space, the boot camps, apprenticeships, last mile programs, industry certification programs that Google or Facebook launches.

Those are very... There's no confusion there, that's about labor market outcomes. They're very clear about prioritizing those, focusing designing around them. So I think there's a lot of competition and a lot of lack of clarity around what the value proposition is for students that go to community colleges, which contributes to maybe some of these declines, Jeff.

Jeff Selingo:

Well, and it sounds like we haven't really well-defined them. And as you say, they serve these different segments of students which you outlined, which I think are really interesting. It's that transfer mission, one, is one segment of students. It's those students who dip in and out of community colleges for their labor market needs and it's just then those community members that just want to take a class here and there.

In essence, community colleges are important for all three. But then as you mentioned, there's these new missions especially around micro-credentials, which in many ways they seem a step behind on that. And again, it's maybe because they're not well-defined and if we see what's happening in Pennsylvania, for example, to give you a sense of how things are going in this two year sector. There was this headline in Inside Higher Ed recently that discussed how leaders of Butler County Community College are considering moving to one of Penn State's regional campuses since both campuses have lost enrollment.

And That's a pretty interesting solution perhaps. So I'm curious about what you think about co-location with four-year colleges or does that just mess up the mission of these community colleges even more?

Michael Horn:

Well, boy. That's a good point, Jeff. I hadn't thought about it. I will say Inside Higher Ed quoted me in that article on the topic. But I will totally be honest with you as I was talking to the reporter, I felt like I was channeling you when I was talking. And the reason for that is I'm the M&A college closure guy and you're the guy that's like, "But there are other strategic options where we can get creative around what collaboration looks like to lower costs and create efficiencies that will keep these community resources," shall we say.

Which we both acknowledge have value in the communities. And historically I've said, "Well, what does that actually look like beyond maybe sharing a library or something like that." And here we are, maybe we have a really good example of it. Now, I think it's, TBD, right? Will it create more, to your point, confusion and lack of clarity or will it really create savings and best of both worlds?

My sense is at least the college presidents and the associated systems around them are waking up at least to the reality that the status quo can't continue. If you looked at the enrollment drops at both of those schools, some people object when we say enrollment cliff, it was a cliff. I can't remember the exact numbers off the top of my head, but it was a dramatic decline in both.

And at least we're seeing this sort of creativity that colleges and universities need to have right now to be able to rethink the use of resources, how they collaborate, how they share things and so forth. And not be necessarily competitive but more collegial and collaborative. And the other question I have in the back of my head is will it be enough given just how far enrollment has already fallen at these two college campuses or is we're already below the waterline and are we trying to bail it out and it's a little too late?

I'm not sure. But I personally think that one of the under covered pieces of this enrollment puzzle of community college is that so many of these student numbers that are frankly keeping them afloat, if you'll stick with that analogy, is tied to dual enrollment, Jeff.

Jeff Selingo:

Yeah, Michael. And it goes back to that mission of the high school to college pipeline. And this is why so many institutions and so many states have really leaned in to dual enrollment through community colleges because it helps those students maybe start and move on from community colleges to four year colleges. But I'm really shocked in so many ways that in every story about community college enrollment that this isn't the lead that high school students make up nearly a fifth of community college enrollment.

And that comes from a study at Columbia Teachers College at the Community College Research Center, which we'll link to in the show notes. And get this, 31 community colleges, the majority of their enrollment are dual enrollment students.

Michael Horn:

Whoa, whoa. Put a pause on that and say that again because that's a crazy stat.

Jeff Selingo:

It is. 31 community colleges, high school students make up the majority of enrollment.

Michael Horn:

Wow. That's mind-boggling, Jeff.

Jeff Selingo:

And really there's more, Michael, because there's really no standards for dual enrollment. And indeed not every state even calls it that. When we're talking to different state officials, they'll call it something else. And in some places students take the community college courses in their high school, in others they actually go to the community college campus. This is nothing like advanced placement. Say what you want about the college board, but at least there's this curriculum and a national test.

Here community colleges are getting paid by the state to award these credits to high school students. High schools are pushing these courses because they think it really helps the students get a headstart on college. And yet they really don't tell the students that at many institutions these courses might not even count towards credit. We had that show on credit mobility last season, I should say, with the President at George Mason University. And we know that most of these credits are not going to be transferred.

Michael Horn:

To stay clear, they're the exception. They're the ones that do it well, most places are not.

Jeff Selingo:

Are not. And I'm just really waiting for this to erupt into a full-blown scandal. And I don't think it has yet because dual enrollment, while it's been around for a while has only really started to ramp up in recent years. So we're now only starting to hear about the problems with it. And there's this other working paper from academics at the Community College Research Center at Teachers College at Columbia. And back in February they found, and again we'll also link to this one in the show notes, that in most parts of the country community colleges receive less funding per dual enrollment student than they receive for their regular non-dual enrollment students. And they illustrated how dual enrollment might really not be financially sustainable in colleges and states where it's offered at a discount.

Michael Horn:

And it calls into so many questions, but I will say I love that you're making this argument, Jeff. I actually wrote, as you know, an entire piece in this topic for Forbes and then in my stack newsletter, we'll also link to it in the show notes so I can get more hate mail. But I headlined at the dual credit risk in high schools and basically my argument was just what you're saying, so I won't repeat it.

But I think because there's no external objective standard to your very point, it just feels like a way to goose some numbers that sound great but might have less meaning behind them than people think. And what's not to love in theory about high school students earning college credit in high school, no debt, right? This sounds great. And I'm sure many people are saying, "Michael, you're the one that wants to blur the lines between educational options and make them more permeable," or malleable if you will. And that's all true.

But as you know, I actually want to do that based on mastery-based learning, like mastery of learning, not units of time. And I think the reality is that a lot of the dual enrollment is a high school teacher offering what's called a college class. And in my mind it just isn't the same thing. I think students are being sold a bill of goods, at least they're not paying for it directly.

Now, as you know, Jeff, there are some exceptions like Arizona State where you're an advisor. They're digital prep offering, they're high school offering. You get to take an online course and you get the real college course, you're taking it with a college faculty member. I think other college students actually are in it. But that's not the norm. And my sense is that to your point, in terms of full-blown scandal, I feel like this could go the way of credit recovery in high school, which for those that are not familiar, essentially online credit recovery, which early on I identified as this way to transform high school, like innovate, non-consumption, students fail a course, don't have a way to make up the credit, give it to them online. We can start to transition and create a more personalized learning experience.

And to some degree that's been true, but because there's been no external standard and people have just wanted to goose graduation rates, it's been fraught with bad incentives. Where I think a lot of students, they sit for the course that lasts two hours and then suddenly, magically they have high school credit.

Now, you could easily say, "Well, all of high school is pretty much that way." Unless there's an exit exam for a course or something at the state level, there's not an objective standard. And yes, that's true, but it doesn't mean this isn't a ruse as well and that we won't see blow back to it at some point. And so anyway, all to say I'm with you, Jeff. And I'm worried that we go down a subpar solution and we don't get the impact or the transformational impact that maybe this solution actually could have if we did it a little bit more thoughtfully around dual enrollment.

Jeff Selingo:

And Michael, I'm reminded that we're here in Sun Valley, which is also home to an annual media finance conference where all the bigwigs in the world of media and money get together in July every year in this convening, hosted and funded by the firm, Alan and Company. Although I'm sure they're meeting in a much more idyllic spot here than in downtown Ketchum where you can hear in the background probably a lot of construction, a lot of vehicles, they're probably somewhere up in a mountain resort where we're not right now recording this.

So it helps I think that we're here and as you and our listeners know, I like to make a lot of analogies between what's happening in higher ed, and Hollywood, and the media in general. But while the government might step in to stop a media merger for example, it seems the long arm of the government is really reaching further into higher ed when it comes to what's happening with mergers, et cetera, right?

So there's this piece in Inside Higher Ed recently that found that merger and acquisition reviews in higher ed by the Department of Education are taking six to 18 months and the prior standard was 45 to 60 days. So just much longer. And a lot of this is tied into the department tightening its change in ownership reviews and what it says is meant to protect students and taxpayers. But what many are really saying is also likely to delay mergers and make them more difficult to complete.

So again, as we are sitting here in Sun Valley where a lot of media mergers start and then are completed after people leave, what's your take on what the department is doing to perhaps slow down and in many cases maybe stop a lot of these mergers from happening in higher ed?

Michael Horn:

Well, and we should say the slowdown, the practical effect of it I think will be just that, it will stop because a lot of these schools won't have the cash balances to go through such a lengthy process, on top of the accreditation review that we also know has stopped some mergers that we've talked about on this show in the past, and we've had guests on that topic.

I will say in terms of the department, we should probably get someone on who knows the ins and outs a bit more of the political and regulatory machinations here than me. But my external sense in reading between the lines is that there are some who think that the department has this view that there's something unsavory about M&A in higher ed. And maybe some of that delay if you will, or slow down in the reviews is blocking the M&A, as you mentioned, of for-profits with not-for-profits, and some of those conversions and public institutions, so-called conversions.

But again for a lot of schools in their last legs, I'm not quite sure what the department is trying to do to hold that up. But there's definitely a dynamic that's slowing everything right now and chilling it. I don't know if you have more intel on this, Jeff, but it strikes me that if there's an ideology behind this, it might not be serving students and institutions all that well.

Jeff Selingo:

It seems like there's two things going on. One was noted in the Inside Higher Ed piece in that there's the staffing, they're just low on staffing at the Department of Ed and so there's a lot that they can't get to more quickly. But I think a lot of it is these conversions. There's a lot of concern about these conversions and we're here in Idaho, where obviously the University of Phoenix has been trying to sell to.

And I think that there's a difference though between those conversions of a for-profit to a nonprofit and really where I think the majority of this action is going to be over the next five to 10 years. And that is really in two nonprofit institutions either trying to form a much deeper alliance, or literally trying to merge and acquire each other very much like Northeastern did with Mills.

I think that's going to be the norm going forward, not these conversions. And unfortunately I think the policy at the education department is to really focus on the conversions. Now, before we go to break, Michael, is there anything else from our conversation here in Sun Valley with Gordon and the College of Western Idaho that you want to bring up?

Michael Horn:

I would just say Gordon's made this point to us several times that a clear focus on employment is where they are going as a community college. And my reaction to that is there's a real value proposition to be had if as a community college you can be laser focused and make employment your one and only thing. As opposed to all these other things we've listed on the first half this show that community colleges have been tasked with historically.

And the case study I would hold up is Texas State Technical College, for example. Which I believe is the only technical college anywhere where their funding depends on their graduates getting great paying jobs. And I think that is not just talking the talk, it's walking the walk. I find it super compelling and I would love to see more schools, maybe independent of the policymakers, take on some of that risk and move in similar directions.

So Gordon's interested in this, it seems. We're going to have to keep an eye on where it all goes, but let's pause there, tackle some other issues that are burning, Jeff, as we take a quick break and come right back on Future U.

Michael Horn:

This episode of Future U, is sponsored by Ascendium Education Group, a nonprofit organization committed to helping learners from low-income backgrounds reach their education and career goals. Ascendium believes that system level change and a student-centric approach are important for our nation's efforts to boost post-secondary education and workforce training opportunities.

That's why their philanthropy aims to remove systemic barriers faced by these learners, specifically first-generation students, incarcerated adults, veterans, students of color, adult learners, and rural community members. For more information, visit

Jeff Selingo:

This episode is being brought to you by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Today's college students are more than just students, they're workers, parents and caregivers and neighbors. And colleges and universities need to change to meet their changing needs.

Learn more about the foundations efforts to transform institutions to be more student-centered at

Michael Horn:

Welcome back to Future U. And Jeff, maybe let's try to do some rapid fire if we're capable of it where we're in person, we're like puppy dogs, excited to be together. But some rapid fire and some headlines in higher ed. And then I know you have some news to share that I'm excited for you to share. But let's go first up. It seems like there is not a day that doesn't go by when there is not a story in the media about the future of legacy admissions. Admissions is your thing what's your take? Is legacy admissions the next to fall after the Supreme Court struck down race conscious admissions, Jeff?

Jeff Selingo:

Simple answer, no. Longer answer is I just don't think it will happen unless it's going to be forced by lawmakers at the state level or at the federal level. And if this is at the state level, this is going to create a crazy patchwork of state legislation. And the simple reason being that the schools who lean into legacy really believe it's part of their traditions and missions. They really believe that this intergenerational love of an institution really builds stronger bonds.

Legacies also tend to be full payers. And many of these institutions, even these institutions that have tens of billions of dollars in endowment, they still need some tuition revenue to make this work. And I recently wrote in my newsletter about how over the last decade that full pay students have really become a rarer commodity in higher ed. The percentage of full-pay students, for example at the top 150 liberal arts colleges has fallen overall from 22% to 16% since 2012.

And full-pay students in this case are defined as those who receive no institutional aid, although they might receive other types of financial aid. Now, most of that drop off was at the schools ranked 50 and beyond. But the top 50 institutions, they don't want the same thing to happen to them. So they're going to do everything that they can do to protect the full payers and that means keeping legacies.

Now, finally the question is how do they justify doing this? How do they justify keeping legacies? And I think they're going to say, "Well, we're going to lean into legacies during early decision," or "We're going to lean into legacies at the very end of the admissions process so that when we're weighing two equally qualified students, the legacy will get the thumb on the scale." And that's largely how they use it anyway.

So I think that they're going to say, "You know what? We're not keeping highly qualified students out." So Michael, any thoughts you have on that?

Michael Horn:

Well it's interesting you mentioned that, Jeff, because I think it mirrors an argument. And just to say it, Johns Hopkins famously dropped legacy admissions. They said they didn't see a decline in donations as I understand it. Amherst College said it will. And then meanwhile at Rival Williams College, a faculty member, Steven Gerard, hopefully I'm pronouncing that correctly, we'll link to it, made the case in the Washington Post that, "Legacy admissions do not harm diversity, they enhance it." And, "No legacy is admitted at the expense of first generation student. They're admitted at the expense of other privileged students who have other excellent options."

So that's to your point, Jeff, there. I was just quickly reminded of a few other thoughts though in reading this piece, which is one of my thoughts frankly from your book, Who Gets In and Why, Jeff, is that standardized tests like the SAT that get banded as a hot potato in this way, aren't often used the way people think that they are. They're more actually used to help low income students who hail from high schools that admissions officers aren't super familiar with. So they don't understand the rigor of the curriculum and what the grades actually mean.

And how does that relate to legacy admissions? Well, I think in a few ways, frankly. If it does engender loyalty and it improves fundraising, well that's going to actually give more dollars to give more discounts theoretically so that these low-income students can afford it or to have need blind admissions.

Now, I say theoretically because Raj Chetty's study that we talked about last time would say they're maybe not doing such a good job of utilizing that tool, but it's there. The second thought I have is that there's an advantage to having legacy students at a college because they tend to be rich in social capital. And sharing that with low income students who maybe don't have those same networks, I think actually really benefits them as they get in the job market.

Jeff Selingo:

And I think it's a good point although many people will point out that those people with social networks don't necessarily socialize with those who don't have social networks.

Michael Horn:

Fair point. I would say the flip side though, a school that completely devoid of it is not going to give anyone a chance. So we can do more about that, I would say.

Third, I constantly have the Rick Levin point to us that he made that legacy admissions are taking care of themselves as there's, frankly, more privileged students applying from a range of places. And my bigger observation is that I think we just need to start seeing colleges as businesses, maybe even private clubs. And what I mean by that is that when my friends on the Right criticize colleges as elitist or my friends on the Left criticize them as bastions of privilege, I'm not sure why we should be surprised.

That's how society has always worked. People have looked for clubs and places of exclusivity. Freemasons, whatever it might be to congregate and create value in each other's lives. And so I don't know. My answer to some degree is less in attacking legacy admissions, but similar in some respects to the conclusion of Mark Oppenheimer on his podcast, The Gate Crashers, about the history of Jews in the Ivy League.

Perhaps we should, as a society, just stop valuing these schools or these exclusionary clubs if you will, as much as we do. And if we cared a little bit less about the Harvard's of the world, maybe they would have a little less impact on our society as well. Wishful thinking, I know.

Jeff Selingo:

We'll never stop caring about Harvard.

Michael Horn:

But I can hope, even as I teach there. So anyway longer answer than perhaps we wanted. But let's go from admissions to alums next. What do you make of this story about a group of USC alums, Jeff, going after the institution because they earned certificates there and were told that they would have alumni status and then USC pulled the plug from them so they filed a complaint? And as you answered, I just would love to know what is up with USC constantly being the school that keeps on giving us crazy headlines like this.

Jeff Selingo:

Well, let's start with USC because they used to call Ronald Reagan the Teflon President. And I think the same is true of USC and I think it's really something when you have a brand, think about scandals at Michigan State or Penn State. These brand names are so strong that it's amazing to me that no matter what happens, doesn't matter, applications go up, fundraising goes up, whatever.

Second on this though, on this issue is really, it shows I think the signal of the credential. I recall when I first came to DC in the late 1990s, Johns Hopkins was advertising in the Washington DC Metro at the professional graduate school level. Students are really buying, I think, the name and the network. Whether they're buying a full-fledged degree or whether they're buying the certificate. Johns Hopkins knew that and they were advertising exactly where they would find working adults who really just wanted to buy that Johns Hopkins name, especially in the DC metro area.

So it surprised me that USC did this. That they pulled the rug under basically people who were buying the credential for this reason. But it does bring up a good point because, Michael, we talk a lot about these alternative credentials, short-term credentials, micro credentials. And read at the end of the day really cheaper credentials because that's really what these are. These cheaper than a full-fledged degree, than that more expensive degree. And the question I think that's being asked and maybe It's being asked of people who have that longer, more expensive credential, should people get access to the same alumni network?

And Michael I'm curious about how this works at Harvard because they have the extension and I don't know how you feel about that as an HBS graduate. But do you think that graduates of all the programs at Harvard should get to use the Harvard name?

Michael Horn:

Well, let me deflect first and tell you a different story, which is, you may recall that HBS about a decade ago, I think at this point launched HBX, which was basically their online program. They had Clay Christensen, teaching Disruptive Strategy, Destrat on HBX, their online program or these small micro credentials, that if you're a small business owner and just need some accounting and things like that, you could go online from Harvard Business School and get this package of online courses and have this small micro degree from HBX.

Well, a few years ago they decided this is mature enough, representative enough of the way HBS does case study and reflective of what we feel is okay as a brand and they changed the branding to HBS online. And from what I understand, the students were not at all happy about it because all of a sudden on LinkedIn, all these people started saying, "I went to HBS." And as employers, they don't know the difference. And so they're upset because it represents the same, to your point, degree, or value.

And the students are like, "But I got in the door and they didn't." Everyone gets into HBS online. Now, I'll confess, I don't lose sleep over this or think much about it. And I'm frankly, maybe not surprising you, I'm delighted that Harvard is providing education to more folks, more accessibly. But maybe that's just me given my orientation in this space, perhaps I'm not representative. And while we maybe leave it at that, Jeff, because everyone would say, "Yup. You're not representative of much, Michael,"

I don't want to just leave it on that note because you actually have some news to share with our audience. The last episode that was just you and me, I talked about the submission of the draft of my next book about helping people change jobs more successfully. But you have some book news of your own, correct?

Jeff Selingo:

Yeah, I obviously forgot about how difficult it was to write a book because I'm writing another one. We worked out a deal over the summer with my current publisher, Scribner, which is an imprint of Simon and Schuster. And the tentative title is, Dream School: The College Admissions Playbook for the Rest of Us. Now, we can talk about it a lot more when I'm deeper into the reporting, Michael, but there's this Mike Tyson quote, that's pretty famous that, "Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth."

It is perhaps probably one of his most sighted quotes and everybody does have a plan until they get punched in the mouth. And the key is planning for what you're going to do after that happens. And in the last four years, more and more teenagers and their parents have been punched in the mouth by the college admissions process. Both getting in, paying for college and even thinking about what major is worth it and what to do after graduation.

And they didn't have a plan about what to do next. In Dream School, this book is really going to be the playbook for families and one that I think they'll increasingly need. This book is hopefully going to help parents and students understand the landscape they're navigating, help them understand their own kids. And most of all what to look for in a college and really get beyond those top schools. The Harvard's of the world that everybody talks about.

If there was one criticism of, Who Gets In and Why, that I agree with is that it's still focused on the top schools, the most selective schools. And this book will really be the book for the rest of us. And I look forward to sharing the journey of it with you and our listeners. And so the timeline is going to be that I'll finish reporting and researching over the next year, start writing in the spring with a deadline, basically a year from now with a publication date in late 2025.

Michael Horn:

Well, congrats on signing despite what that's going to do to your life as you report this. But I'm excited about it. I found in choosing college, that far too many students really didn't have a plan B when they didn't get into that dream school. And then when they went to a place they weren't excited about it didn't end well.

So I'm really excited about what you're going to learn as you do the reporting and let's leave it there. Leave me, and our listeners wanting more from what you find as we wrap up our time together in Sun Valley and we'll talk to you all next time on Future U.

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