Day: September 14, 2018

Why Is College in America So Expensive?

The outrageous price of a U.S. degree is unique in the world.

college ripoffBefore the automobile, before the Statue of Liberty, before the vast majority of contemporary colleges existed, the rising cost of higher education was shocking the American conscience: “Gentlemen have to pay for their sons in one year more than they spent themselves in the whole four years of their course,” The New York Times lamented in 1875.

Decadence was to blame, the writer argued: fancy student apartments, expensive meals, and “the mania for athletic sports.”

Today, the U.S. spends more on college than almost any other country, according to the 2018 Education at a Glance report, released this week by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

All told, including the contributions of individual families and the government (in the form of student loans, grants, and other assistance), Americans spend about $30,000 per student a year—nearly twice as much as the average developed country. “The U.S. is in a class of its own,” says Andreas Schleicher, the director for education and skills at the OECD, and he does not mean this as a compliment. “Spending per student is exorbitant, and it has virtually no relationship to the value that students could possibly get in exchange.”

Only one country spends more per student, and that country is Luxembourg—where tuition is nevertheless free for students, thanks to government outlays. In fact, a third of developed countries offer college free of charge to their citizens. (And another third keep tuition very cheap—less than $2,400 a year.) The farther away you get from the United States, the more baffling it looks.

This back-to-school season, The Atlantic is investigating a classic American mystery: Why does college cost so much? And is it worth it?

At first, like the 19th-century writer of yore, I wanted to blame the curdled indulgences of campus life: fancy dormitories, climbing walls, lazy rivers, dining halls with open-fire-pit grills. And most of all—college sports. Certainly sports deserved blame.

On first glance, the new international data provide some support for this narrative. The U.S. ranks No. 1 in the world for spending on student-welfare services such as housing, meals, health care, and transportation, a category of spending that the OECD lumps together under “ancillary services.” All in all, American taxpayers and families spend about $3,370 on these services per student—more than three times the average for the developed world. One reason for this difference is that American college students are far more likely to live away from home. And living away from home is expensive, with or without a lazy river. Experts say that campuses in Canada and Europe tend to have fewer dormitories and dining halls than campuses in the U.S. “The bundle of services that an American university provides and what a French university provides are very different,” says David Feldman, an economist focused on education at William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. “Reasonable people can argue about whether American universities should have these kind of services, but the fact that we do does not mark American universities as inherently inefficient. It marks them as different.” READ MORE:https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2018/09/why-is-college-so-expensive-in-america/569884/

‘Instagram playgrounds’ for the hashtag obsessed are taking over U.S. cities

Packed with interactive features and social media appeal, pop-up exhibits have taken major cities by storm, allowing visitors to step into another world.

A sunflower garden, a caviar pool and a psychedelic laundromat are among the many Instagram-ready experiences that have taken over vacant studio spaces and abandoned buildings across the country, luring in the hashtagged obsessed.

These interactive pop-up exhibits in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and other major cities charge people $18 to $45 to capture their experiences in immersive “Instagram playgrounds,” many of which lead to thousands of posts on the social media platform.

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“It’s meant to feel like a dreamscape, a little oasis away from the chaos of the city,” said Michelle Price, on-site brand manager of The Egg House, a pop-up exhibit that started in New York and is currently in Shanghai, attracting over 16,330 Instagram followers.

The Egg House revolves around an egg named Ellis who, Price said, was brought to New York to attract people and take them on a journey through “his Big Apple dreams.”

While the installations’ visual appeal helps the exhibits attract visitors, abstract narratives like Ellis’ engage visitors.

“Every installation is meant to be interactive,” Price said. “Usually when you go to an art exhibit they’re more passive, you have that sense of separation.”

But with these exhibits, “there’s no rope,” she said. “There’s no velvet rope, separating you.” READ MORE: https://www.nbcnews.com/pop-culture/lifestyle/instagram-playgrounds-hashtag-obsessed-are-taking-over-u-s-cities-n893326

Everyone at Afropunk looked like a damn dream Afropunk style is never missable. This year was no exception.

Personal style at major music festivals can be generally watered down and frankly, a little lame, but not at. Afropunk. Attendees of the music and arts festival, now in its thirteenth year, looked as lush and happy as ever. Flower crowns, which have been having a moment in fashion, were ever-present and larger than life. Shades of bright yellow were inescapable, and skinny shades returned sleeker and chic-er than ever. Many of the impressive looks we captured were handmade by the wearers themselves. Peep some of our favorites from the weekend below. MORE PICTURES

 

Latin Artist on the Rise: Meet PJ Sin Suela, The Puerto Rican Doctor-Turned-Urban Singer

EDGARWhen he was in high school, PJ Sin Suela was known for dropping crazy hip-hop rhymes during lunchtime. He was a music junkie thanks to his mom, who played the guitar. Having all the qualities to be the next big music star, PJ opted to go to school to become a doctor instead.

Now, as a graduate from med school and published author with a doctorate in medicine, PJ Sin Suela has kicked off his music career.

Born Pedro-Juan Vazquez Bragan in Ponce, Puerto Rico, PJ is an emerging artist who’s on many people’s radar thanks to “Cual Es Tu Plan,” the sensual collaboration he dropped with Bad Bunny and Ñejo in August. He’s also been taking his music to an international level as the opening act for Residente.

“I’m learning a lot about different cultures,” he tells Billboard of his experience on tour and visiting countries such as Spain and Mexico for the first time. “Each time, there are more and more fans feeling my music. I like to write about things that happen in Puerto Rico, and a lot of people feel identified,” he added, stating that his biggest dream as an artist is to tour the world with his music.

But music never stopped him from pursuing his career as a doctor. In fact, after Hurricane Maria in 2017, PJ worked to help people in need and even recorded the viral track “Ave María” with no electricity and no microphones.

Currently, PJ is working on his debut studio album and preparing his first-ever solo tour, where he will visit fans in Latin America, Europe and the U.S.

READ MORE: https://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/latin/8475031/latin-artist-on-the-rise-pj-sin-suela

America’s Invisible Pot Addicts More and more Americans are reporting near-constant cannabis use, as legalization forges ahead.

The proliferation of retail boutiques in California did not really bother him, Evan told me, but the billboards did. Advertisements for delivery, advertisements promoting the substance for relaxation, for fun, for health. “Shop. It’s legal.” “Hello marijuana, goodbye hangover.” “It’s not a trigger,” he told me. “But it is in your face.”

When we spoke, he had been sober for a hard-fought seven weeks: seven weeks of sleepless nights, intermittent nausea, irritability, trouble focusing, and psychological turmoil. There were upsides, he said, in terms of reduced mental fog, a fatter wallet, and a growing sense of confidence that he could quit. “I don’t think it’s a ‘can’ as much as a ‘must,’” he said.

Evan, who asked that his full name not be used for fear of professional repercussions, has a self-described cannabis-use disorder. If not necessarily because of legalization, but alongside legalization, such problems are becoming more common: The share of adults with one has doubled since the early aughts, as the share of cannabis users who consume it daily or near-daily has jumped nearly 50 percent—all “in the context of increasingly permissive cannabis legislation, attitudes, and lower risk perception,” as the National Institutes of Health put it.

READ MORE: https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2018/08/americas-invisible-pot-addicts/567886/

The Culture Isn’t Finished With ‘The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill’—and Neither Is She

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Given all that has come in its wake, it is still hard to believe that Lauryn Hill released The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill when she was 23 years old. True, Hill had lived plenty of lives by then, had tried on a variety of roles—straight-A student of Maplewood, New Jersey’s Columbia High School; founder of her school’s gospel choir; promising teen actress stealing scenes in Sister Act 2 and As the World Turns; sole female member of the multi-platinum, Grammy-winning group that the media dubbed “the new conscience of rap”; and of course at her most braggadocious, “Nina Simone, defecating on your microphone.” Yet somehow, none of this quite prepared people in the summer of 1998 for the monumental achievement of her first and, to date, only solo studio album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill—a collection of songs as timeless and disparate as the tough-love anthem “Doo Wop (That Thing),” the break-up dirge “Ex-Factor,” the fire-starting “Lost Ones,” and that tender ode to impending motherhood “To Zion.” When an artist makes such a massively successful, groundbreaking, and format-defining work at a precocious age—think Mary Shelley writing Frankenstein at 20 or Orson Welles directing Citizen Kane at 25—it usually inspires the less precocious members of its audience (so roughly, everyone) to feel some combination of adoration and human inferiority: What were you doing with your life when you were 20, or 25, or 23? But maybe, too, there is something inherently youthful and thus reassuringly communal about such be-all-and-end-all swings for the moon. And so I like to temper this vision of an inhumanly precocious Lauryn Hill with the more human hubris of youth. “Lucky for us, like everyone in their twenties,” writes Kierna Mayo, the woman who famously put Hill on the cover of the preview issue of Honey magazine, “Hill imagined herself wiser than she really was.”

This weekend, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill turns 20, meaning it is nearly as old as Hill was herself when she wrote and recorded it. Its success is still staggering and well documented, and well worth documenting again: It sold 422,624 copies the week it was released, which at the time set the record for highest first-week sales by a female artist. It was nominated for 10 Grammys and won five of them (the most in a single night for a female artist at the time, breaking Carole King’s 27-year-old record), including Album of the Year, an award no black woman has won since. Last year, NPR placed it at no. 2 on its list of the 150 Greatest Albums Made by Women, just behind Joni Mitchell’s Blue, and the album was also selected to be included in the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress. Worldwide, it has sold more than 19 million copies. Here is a paragraph break so the haters can take a breath.

But Hill’s travails throughout the past two decades have been well documented, too. When the album celebrated its 15th birthday, five years ago, Hill was in a minimum-security Connecticut prison serving a three-month term for tax evasion. There have been lawsuits, canceled shows, and accusations about her treatment of backing musicians. But perhaps most deafening, there has been her silence. Hill has released one-off tracks here and there, and her 2002 MTV Unplugged appearance was released as a (polarizing) live album. But she never released another proper album after Miseducation, and when not performing live, Hill has spent much of the past two decades in exile from her stardom, quietly raising six children and devoting herself to various spiritual practices. She rarely gives interviews, but in 2010 she told an NPR reporter who asked why she had stopped releasing new music, “There were a number of different reasons, but partly the support system that I needed was not necessarily in place. There were things about myself, personal-growth things, that I had to go through in order to feel like it was worth it.”

And yet around that time Hill began performing again, usually not new material but versions of the classic songs off Miseducation, reworked, sped up, and rearranged sometimes to the point that they were nearly indistinguishable. These performances have been mixed (I’ve seen her twice: one show was brilliant, the other a disaster, which seems in keeping with the general ratio). There is something both compelling and a little unsettling about how she still seems to be revising, rewriting, and endlessly tweaking the Miseducation songs live, akin to the creative perfectionism that drove Kanye West to continue reworking his 2016 record, The Life of Pablo, as though the album was not fluid enough as a format to contain his creativity. The culture is certainly not finished with The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, and in some sense neither is she.

As a fan, I have found Hill’s refusal to make another record frustrating and at the same time deeply profound: What can be a louder and clearer message of rebellion than, in a culture bloated with noise and excess, to remain quiet when everyone demands that you speak? Hill quickly and summarily achieved nearly every major milestone in the music industry, and then she walked away from it, as if to show that success is not a proven avenue to personal fulfillment. Hill has sometimes been compared to two other prominent black artists of her generation who disappeared at the height of fame’s demands: D’Angelo (who worked with her on “Nothing Even Matters” from Miseducation) and Dave Chappelle. “Lauryn Hill said something so apt recently,” the Pulitzer Prize–winning writer Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah mused in an interview not long after she’d written a moving essay about her search for Chappelle. “She was late for her show and people complained that she was selfish in her tardiness and she said, ‘I gave you all of my twenties.’”

What does The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill mean 20 years later? It’s a complicated question, so it is fortunate that one of hip-hop’s smartest cultural critics, Joan Morgan, has devoted an entire short book to working it out.

“Routinely lauded for its themes of self-love, empowerment, and broken-heart-bounce-backs,” Morgan writes in her incisive She Begat This: 20 Years of The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, the record “has earned itself the rank of classic in contemporary American popular culture.” But Morgan’s book honors the record’s spirit not by adding any more height to the pedestal on which it’s already been placed, but instead interrogating it, questioning its mythology, and even bringing in some dissenting black female voices to admit they never much felt like the record spoke for them. Says the legendary critic dream hampton, “I don’t want to hear anyone say the word ‘defecate’ anywhere near Nina Simone. Ever.”

READ MORE:https://www.theringer.com/music/2018/8/24/17776882/lauryn-hill-miseducation-album-20-year-anniversary