Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Brain Drain

Enrollment in American higher education is expected to hit record highs this fall. One driving factor will be the influx of foreign students seeking diplomas from U.S. schools. Question: What will happen when they leave after graduation? Answer: Brain Drain.

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Foreign student enrollment has been steadily increasing this decade since 2005. At last count there were over 600 thousand foreign students in colleges and universities in the U.S. Favorable exchange rates attributed to the faltering U.S. dollar which continues to lose value against other currencies around the world and enhanced recruitment strategies abroad are the driving factors. Short-term, the increase in foreign students bodes well for our economy. Campuses that meet their enrollment quotas provide employment not only for academics, but for all those involved in the auxiliary services to keep the campus operating – administrative and maintenance staff, foodservice and let’s not forget parking. In addition, the entry of foreigner money will boost the local communities where campuses are situated. Foreign students will buy their laptops, printers, iPods, digital cameras, even their clothes when they arrive in the States.

Conversely this trend will negatively impact our economy long-term. Why? Colleges and universities are the primary breeding ground for innovation. Innovation is the engine that will drive the Global economy in the next decade. Once foreign students receive their diplomas and their visas expire, the “Best & Brightest” from overseas will return home to become Global leaders in business, technology, medicine, etc. Does this spell brain drain for the United States?

Today’s blog entry is my final post in my summer series – What’s Next U.S.A.? Five blogs in total: Vanishing Vacations, Man’s Best Friend, Pet U.S.A., Vampires and Brain Drain. Five trends that will shape (impact) our country’s next decade.

Sunday, August 9, 2009


24/7 is not only America’s business mantra, but a fitting depiction of our frenzied, multi-tasking, round-the-clock lifestyles. Now add to the equation the social media explosion combined with our obsession for caffeine, America is breeding a wired generation that operates from midnight to dawn – Vampires.

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National Sleep Foundation’s (
latest poll estimated that Americans now get an average of 6.7 hours of sleep during a weekday – approximately 25 percent less than we did 100 years ago. The poll also revealed that 20 percent of the people surveyed sleep less than six hours. What has caused a decline in the hours of sleep? Start with stress and economic angst. Throw in the advent of the Internet with access to global friends and clients, the plethora of entertainment options, twenty-four hour convenience stores, restuarants and fitness centers, Americans are staying awake longer hours. Consequently, 24/7 is the norm; we are breeding a Vampire generation that continues to be wired from midnight to dawn.

There are two other significant factors that will fuel the wakefulness of American life in the next decade – social media and caffeine.

Ø Last week, according the “Consumer Internet Barometer” published by TNS and the Conference Board, the percentage of U.S. Internet users who visit social networking sites jumped from 26.7% in 2008 to 43.7% in 2009. Approximately 72% of those users were under the age of 35. What better time to tweet or stay connected to friends via Facebook, Flickr or LinkedIn than between midnight and dawn – after work/school, working out and socializing?

Ø Caffeine, caffeine, caffeine everywhere. Let’s look at the numbers: Coffee consumption consistently continues to soar with 54% of the adult populations partaking in 2009, with men out drinking women among coffee drinkers approximately 1.9 versus 1.4 cups per day. Tea has evolved into a $6.85 billion market, 3.7 times the amount consumed in 1990 when the Tea Association of the U.S.A. began tracking the value of wholesale tea sales ( In 2007 it was reported that Americans consumed three quarters of a gallon per capita of energy drinks. Analysts are now projecting that per capita consumption of energy drinks will jump to two plus gallons by 2011. Then there is “Liquid Candy.” Carbonated soft drinks are not only the largest source of calories in the American diet, but they also contain caffeine. A 12 oz. can of Coke has 34 milligrams of caffeine; the monthly per capita of soda is 48 cans or the equivalent of 54 gallons per year.

More 24/7 options catering to Vampires will develop, gathering places where Vampires can meet, network live or via technology, eat and drink everything from coffee drinks to energy drinks – even Bloody Mary’s.

Sounds like another opportunity for Starbucks.