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Colleges focus too much on rankings and pushing students through, and too little on academic rigor and quality.Change -- and not a little -- is needed across higher education, Richard Keeling and Richard Hersh argue. Too many college graduates are not prepared to think critically and creatively, speak and write cogently and clearly, solve problems, comprehend complex issues, accept responsibility and accountability, take the perspective of others, or meet the expectations of employers. How can this be if American higher education is supposed to be the best in the world?Without academic expectations to bring structure to students’ time, too much time is wasted.
We have bastardized the bachelor’s degree by allowing it to morph into a ticket to a job (though, today, that ticket often doesn’t get you very far).
The atmosphere of too many residence halls drives serious students out of their own rooms (functionally, their on-campus homes) to study, write, reflect, and think.
Rethinking higher education means reconstituting institutional culture by rigorously identifying, evaluating and challenging the many damaging accommodations that colleges and universities, individually and collectively, have made (and continue to make) to consumer and competitive pressures over the last several decades. ” We mean the allocation of increasing proportions of institutional resources to facilities, personnel, programs and activities that do not directly and significantly contribute to the kind of holistic, developmental and transformative learning that defines higher learning.
The academy has adopted an increasingly consumer-based ethic that has produced costly and dangerous effects: the expectations and standards of a rigorous liberal education have been displaced by thinly disguised professional or job training curriculums; teaching and learning have been devalued, deprioritized, and replaced by an emphasis on magazine rankings; and increased enrollment, winning teams, bigger and better facilities, more revenue from sideline businesses, and more research grants have replaced learning as the primary touchstone for decision-making.
Teaching is increasingly left to contingent faculty; tenure-track professors have few incentives to spend time with undergraduates, improve their teaching, or measure what their students are learning.