Well-intended efforts to change the general education curriculum have foundered on the shoals of academic politics. As a consequence, students are leaving college insufficiently prepared to be the kinds of leaders our world desperately needs.
Increasing the value of our higher education system is a worthy enterprise. While many features of the proposed plan make sense, some measures under consideration to define the value of a college are unsettling.
Remember that college is for you. It's not for your friends. It's not for your family (though if they are helping foot the bill, you do owe them some respect). It's for you. Don't make so many decisions for other people that you forget to make them for yourself
While we can't hold tuition and fees at a standstill forever, we continue to study and explore cost-saving measures in other areas we can pass on to our students. At Texas Tech, this is an ongoing process, a year-round approach that keeps us ahead of this annual issue.
Make no mistake, much good has come of the recent push to hold colleges responsible for assessing student outcomes, for controlling costs, and for graduating the students we admit. The national accrediting agencies have stepped up on this effort.
Despite the resistance it is clear that as we move forward, quality and innovation will need to be achieved through redeployment of existing resources, restructuring the ways we deliver our programs and administrative services, and collaborations.
The future of American higher education will rest on the ability of leadership at all levels to see change as an investment and safeguard that protect and energize an academic culture now out of sync with the world around it.
We must embrace disruption in education. We must become more pragmatic, which means we continue with the rigors of scholarly learning experience, but insure the classroom is preparing them for the world of tomorrow, the one they'll spend their careers in and navigate for those behind them.
So, what's the solution? Measure nothing and continue to see our college graduates move back home with their parents after school under a mountain of student-loan debt? Know yourself? How about support yourself?
New technologies offer unprecedented opportunities to redefine our role in addressing the range of challenges that we as human beings face. It is our obligation to take up this call for the benefit of our students and our world.
When did we lose our high hopes for personal transformation in higher learning? What cynic convinced us that the idealism of a life spent working in the public interest is worth much less than a life spent making money in furtherance of corporate interests?
Graduation rates, post-graduation employment rates, and loan repayment rates are crucial metrics for all schools, and we should make this data widely available. Beyond this, however, one size does not fit all.
My real concern is with the plan's proposal to create a new college rating system and to tie student aid to it. I have no problem with my institution being rated or with a new rating system in general, but who will create this system? Higher education experts? Or politicians?
President Obama's populist rhetoric bashing colleges on cost and accountability was surely a crowd-pleaser; and there's just enough truth in his criticism to make his plan seem, at the very least, important if not brilliant. But the plan masks a big lie. Actually, several big lies.
In contrast to a highly specialized education in a trade, a liberal arts education teaches critical thinking, problem-solving, effective communication, and global understanding. I certainly hope President Obama perceives a liberal arts education to be a valuable approach to "job training."
It's no longer as simple as stashing a little cash away to make it. Financing a college education requires dedication, determination, and strong willpower to trade the daily $4 lattes for a home-brewed cup of Joe.
Teaching students how to be a strong job candidate inside the classroom walls encompasses the development of skills essential for career success and advancement. Consider the value of interpersonal communication.