How to fix higher ed

Among the One Hundred Great Ideas for Higher Education suggested to the National Association of Scholars are calls to require students to memorize poetry, memorize American texts, study logic, debate, statistics, etymology, U.S. history, grammar and writing and perform physical labor.

Robin Fox, a Rutgers social theory professor, suggests giving students alternatives to the four-year degree, such as certificates in skilled trades.

. . .  what we need is a reduction in residential four-year institutions and an expansion of the community college system, with primacy given to extension and online courses for those already working in the profession or skill of their choice.

. . . Among college students, those doing science, engineering and math degrees should attend for free, while those who study arts, social studies, media studies, cultural studies (cultural anything), and particularly women’s and gender studies should have to pay double. Then let the market sort it out.

Education Sector’s Andrew Gillen calls for publishing earnings outcomes for all degree-granting programs, using IRS or Social Security data.

My suggestion is to make it clear to students whether they’re on the remedial, vocational or academic track while they’re young enough to do something about it — or set more achievable goals.

I’d like to see a program that would analyze a student’s grades, test scores, and self-reported motivation and study skills to predict future success. Let’s say Ned Ninth-grader learns he has a 1 percent chance of earning a medical degree (his stated ambition), a 10 percent chance at a bachelor’s degree, a 20 percent chance at an associate degree, a 50 percent shot at a vocational certificate, and a 65 percent chance of a high school diploma.

He gets information on what jobs he might do if he reaches various levels and what he can do now to increase his options. Maybe Ned will work harder, raise his grades, and have a real shot at an associate degree in radiology or a pharmacy tech certificate. Honest information would be great for students—and would reduce colleges’ remedial burden.

J. M. Anderson, a dean at Illinois Valley Community College, adds a 101st idea after teaching a night class for working adults and day classes for traditional-age students: Don’t let anyone under 21 into college.


POSTED BY Joanne Jacobs ON March 4, 2013

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[...] like to tell ninth graders whether they’re on track to earn a bachelor’s degree, train for a ski… If they knew early enough, they could work harder to improve their odds — or set more [...]

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