Fixing college tuition

We have some serious problems in the country surrounding college education. We have some of the best universities in the world, so the issue is not quality. The issue is price. The cost of college is soaring, and aggregate student debt will exceed $1 trillion!

President Obama is trying to address the student loan crisis with some sensible reforms, but the bigger long-term issue has to do with the cost of a college education.

Steven Goodman addresses the problem and proposes a solution.

Since loans now comprise 70% of financial aid packages, the growing tuition burden falls squarely on student-borrowers who may have saved for college but who still can’t meet the high cost of attendance. Two-thirds of American undergraduates are in debt. This year, student loan debt will grow to more than a trillion dollars, outpacing credit card debt for the first time. As hundreds of thousands of high school seniors prepare their college applications, and their parents compile documents required for financial aid, Congress needs to seriously consider legislation that will rein in future tuition increases.

There are many reasons for the dramatic rise in tuition, including demand for better student residences, cutting-edge laboratories, IT improvements, cuts in state subsidies and administrative growth. Regardless of which factors are most significant, the fact remains that there has simply not been enough external pressure to force universities to contain costs. Ironically, the accessibility of student loans, while admirable at first glance, has contributed to tuition growth. And while President Obama’s recent proposal to cap student loan repayments depending on income is a step in the right direction, it doesn’t address the bigger problem of runaway tuition in the first place.

This is where government needs to firmly step in. The federal government contributes billions of dollars to research and development on campus and allows universities to function as tax-exempt institutions. Self-policing of college costs has not worked; government needs to tie its support of higher education to college costs.

Read the entire article as it presents a sensible argument.

Your Business Cards

We’ve discussed the cheap revolution before. It’s the notion that you can do so many things today and use countless services for a fraction of what they used to cost. This helps drive entrepreneurship and it helps people sell products or services without a huge support organization. You can be a one-person wrecking crew, using email, the web and social media to network, chase leads and close sales.

That said, there are still some older traditions that you shouldn’t abandon. While you may not need a fancy office and a receptionist answering phones, you should have a web site or other online presence, and you should have things like business cards. The online and mobile worlds are important, but person-to-person networking is still critical.

But here the cheap revolution helps as well. You can access business card printing services online and avoid all the hassles of the past. It’s easier and cheaper and you get exactly what you want. So do all the new media stuff, but never abandon old methods of meeting people in person and exchanging business cards.

The importance of spotting talent

Apple announced the death of Apple founder Steve Jobs on October 5, 2011. He was 56. Jobs was the founder and former CEO of Apple that transformed personal computer technology and invented devices such as the iPod, iPhone and iPad. He is shown in 1999 file photo at Macworld resting on a red iMac computer in San Francisco, California. UPI/Terry Schmitt/files

With the death of Steve Jobs, there will be countless articles covering his career, and many of us can learn a great deal from his success. We’ve already posted his advice to college graduates about finding what you love to do. Jobs was also an incredible innovator and manager, even if he was a tyrant at times.

If you’re a manager or you run your own business, this story might be helpful. It comes from a Fast Company article after Jobs stepped down as Apple’s CEO but published before his death.

Jobs had recently come back to the company after a 12-year hiatus working for two of his own startups: NeXT, which made ultra-high-end computers, and Pixar. He was taking a tour of Apple, becoming reacquainted with what the company had become since he’d left. It must have been a sobering, even ugly, sight–Apple was dying at the hands of Microsoft, IBM, Dell, and other competitors that were doing what Apple did, only cheaper and with faster processors.

In a dusty basement across the road from Apple’s main building, Jobs found a solitary designer who was ready to quit, languishing amid a stack of prototypes. Among them was a monolithic monitor with a teardrop swoop, which integrated all of a computer’s guts into a single package. And in that room, Jobs saw what middle managers did not. He saw the future. Almost immediately, he told the designer, Jonathan Ive, that from here on out they’d be working side by side on a new line of computers.

Jobs may not be the greatest technologist or engineer of his generation. But he is perhaps the greatest user of technology to ever live, and it was to Apple’s great fortune that he also happened to be the company’s founder.

Those computers that Ive and Jobs worked on became, of course, the iMac–a piece of hardware designed with an unprecedented user focus, all the way to the handle on top, which made it easy to pull out of the box. (“That’s the great thing about handles,” Ive told Fast Company in 1999. “You know what they’re used for.”) That single moment in the basement with Ive says a great deal about what made Jobs the most influential innovator of our time. It shows an ability to see a company from the outside, rather than inside as a line manager. He didn’t see the proto iMac as a liability or a curiosity. He saw something that was simply better than what had preceded it, and he was willing to bet on that instinct. That required an ability to think first and foremost as someone who lives with technology rather than produces it.

Jobs was always able to see opportunity and usable innovation that others could not see. He could also spot talent and put people in situations where they can thrive. The story of his visit to Xerox is legendary, as they had the graphical user interface and had no idea people would want it in their home computers.

You may not have a Jonathan Ive in your organization or revolutionary products sitting on a shelf, but you probably have some very talented people who are stuck in jobs that waste their talent. Take the time to know your team, and dig deeper than your immediate reports. Find the talent, let them work, and your company will have a better chance to thrive.

Flexible careers

We all have different career goals, but one that is becoming more important has to do with job flexibility. We want flexibility on issues like hours and the ability to work away from the workplace.

Even is a bad economy, these goals are becoming more attainable. Naturally, technology has a lot to do with it. But the culture is also changing, as companies and managers realize that they can have more productive workers if the offer more flexible work arrangements.

That said, it’s also good to think about certain careers that make it even easier to have a flexible work environment.

Graphic design jobs fit this category. Technology has completely changed the design field, as everything is now done on the computer. Keep in mind that collaboration is sometimes easier when everyone is under the same roof irrespective of new online collaboration software tools, so some employers will want you to spend some of your time in their office. But you can do much of this work from anywhere.

Writing jobs are a natural choice. If you can write, there are tons of jobs out there as content development is a growing field. With a computer and an internet connection, you can work for a wide variety of employers.

Web design jobs are in the same category and combine aspects of the two above. Firms are always looking for online designers, and this is something you can do from anywhere as well. Keep in mind, however, that this is becoming more of a commodity, so it’s important to keep working on your skills.

Words of wisdom from Steve Jobs

Apple announced the death of Apple founder Steve Jobs on October 5, 2011. He was 56. Jobs was the founder and former CEO of Apple that transformed personal computer technology and invented devices such as the iPod, iPhone and iPad. He is shown announcing the Macintosh computer in 1984 in San Francisco, California. UPI/Terry Schmitt/files

Steve Jobs passed away today. He was one of the most important and influential people of our time and he will be greatly missed.

I would recommend that everyone, particularly young people, read this speech from Steve Jobs given at Stanford in 2005. It’s the best career advice I’ve ever heard.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

Read the whole thing.

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