Flooding & Power Loss After Irene, Rising College Costs and Dropout Rates: Today on Here and Now

by Laura Ellis on August 30, 2011

1:06pm: Flooding from rains dumped by tropical storm Irene have isolated entire towns in the Northeast, and some communities are warily watching swollen rivers for signs of cresting. More than 2 and a half million people from North Carolina to Maine lacked electricity today, three days after Irene churned up the Eastern Seaboard. The storm has been blamed for at least 40 deaths in 11 states. One of the hardest hit is Vermont. We get the latest from Candace Page, senior reporter with the Burlington Free Press.

1:12pm: Community College is supposed to take 2 years, but 80% of the students who enroll fail to graduate even after 3 years. The numbers at 4 year colleges are not much better — only half the students who enroll manage to get their Bachelors’ degrees in 6 years. Statistics like those, says reporter Jon Marcus, “have helped push the U.S. from 1st to 10th in the world” for the proportion of college graduates, and “threaten to make this generation of college-age Americans the first to be less-well educated than their parents.” President Obama vowed to reverse this trend with a major speech at Macomb Community College in Michigan 2 years ago. Marcus visited Macomb this year and found that things have actually gotten “much, much worse” for public and community college students — severe budget cuts have translated into higher tuition and fees and less financial aid, forcing students to work more while they go to school. The budget cuts also mean fewer classes, making it harder for students to find room in required courses. We’ll speak with Marcus about what he found out.

1:50pm: Getting caught up in fictional lives, whether in a book or on TV, or daydreaming about the future may seem like a waste of time. But according to Yale University Psychologist Paul Bloom, getting involved in works of the imagination, whether it be in a daydream or a movie can have value, and people spend more time in that kind of leisure activity as opposed to activities they say they do more, like eating or playing or sex. Bloom writes about the benefits of exploring fantasy worlds as part of his book How Pleasure Works: The New Science of Why We Like What We Like — and he joins us this hour to explain.

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