This story from the New York Time's Sunday business section should give some pause to those who think that law students' debt plight is unique to law students. High Debt and Falling Demand Trap New Vets. Maybe no one that thinks that, but at times, judging from some of the commentary, it sure has seemed that way.
Now I bring this up, not as a kind of "things are tough all over," so there's no problem, get over it. Far from it. But if things are tough all over, at least debt-wise, in higher education, which they seem to be (and we haven't yet talked about the situation for graduate students in disciplines like English, Philosophy, History, etc.) then perhaps we should consider whether this is a systemic problem, especially since the Times also reports that at least in some quarters a 4 year degree is the new entry level standard previously represented by a high school degree. It Takes A B.A. to Find a Job as a File Clerk
If it is true that at least part of the law school debt problem is a reflection of wider social forces, that suggests it is one that is not necessarily going to be solved by tweaks of the law school curriculum (and let me just say here that I assume that it is always a good idea to be open to continuous revision and reform in light of new information and conditions, as long as we also try not to reflexively discard valuable practices which may be good) or changes in accreditation practices. Nevertheless, one aspect of this article stands out for me - the role played by the for-profit vet school. Could it be that the combination of a federal student loan program designed and launched before the era of for-profit higher education and the emergence of these institutions has driven some of the problem by saturating the market? Or could it be that a general faith in for-profit entities and identification with market-based analogies and imagery has infected higher ed in a way that has been harmful to students? Bemonaing the corporatization of higher education Don't know. And it would probably be hard to prove a connection. But it is food for thought.