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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Matter of Opinion

Feast then Famine

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Our editorial today discussed the wisdom of Inland Northwest higher ed institutions for planning for the lean years ahead.

A famous tale of the abundance-scarcity cycle appears in the Old Testament. Joseph, sold into slavery by his jealous brothers, gains renown in captivity by interpreting dreams. When the Pharaoh dreams of seven lean cows devouring seven fat ones, Joseph explains that following seven years of abundance, Egypt will face seven years of famine. Grain is stored, and when the famine arrives all is well.
In higher education institutions, the abundance years are peaking. Time magazine recently reported that the high school class of 2008 – nearly 3.4 million students – is the largest in U.S. history, and most colleges boast waiting lists.
But lean years loom. Demographic trends indicate the number of college age students will decline over the next several years. And college is expected to become prohibitively expensive for some populations, including the children of immigrants.

As a 1955-born baby boomer, all my school years were marked by big classes and crowded everything in college and grad school -- dorms, registration lines, parking.
And I went to Catholic schools, which tended to have fewer students than public schools.

Did you attend college in feast or famine years? And how do you think it affected the quality of your education? Stories welcome.

A Matter of Opinion is really a matter of three opinions – those held by the people responsible for the opinion pages of The Spokesman-Review. Check in regularly to find out what they’re up to, what they think and where they differ and to joust with them if you want.