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Debating the Value of College in America

Debating the Value of College in America
My first job as a professor was at an Ivy League university. The students were happy to be taught, and we, their teachers, were happy to be teaching them. Whatever portion of their time and energy was being eaten up by social commitments—which may have been huge, but about which I was ignorant—they seemed earnestly and unproblematically engaged with the academic experience. If I was naïve about this, they were gracious enough not to disabuse me. None of us ever questioned the importance of what we were doing. At a certain appointed hour, the university decided to make its way in the world without me, and we parted company. I didn’t regard this as my business any more than I had the social lives of my Ivy League students. I got the question in that form only once, but I heard it a number of times in the unmonetized form of “Why did we have to read this book?” College is, essentially, a four-year intelligence test. I could have answered the question in a different way. Related:  Higher Ed

It's Your Duty to Be Miserable! - Advice By William Pannapacker Every fall, during convocation, as we professors parade in our academic regalia, I am reminded of the march of the penitents in Bergman's film The Seventh Seal. It is not just the medieval ceremony; it's the reflexive small talk: "Did you have a good summer?" "Well, I got a lot of writing done. "Yes, I delivered a book manuscript, I'm waiting for decisions on two articles, and I taught three summer courses." "That's too bad. As I eavesdrop on such conversations, I imagine them punctuated by the whish and crack of the flagellant's whip. Of course, I am a penitent, too. In that context, anyone who dares to publish an online essay in The Chronicle arguing that academics should be choosy about where they live (as Alexandra M. "If you are a professor, it's your duty to be miserable." Surely, the Catholic tradition of monastics and mendicants lies behind this tendency that I share with my profession, but there are other traditions at work here.

85% Of Recent College Grads Will End Up Living With Mom And Dad Graduates on the Value of HigherEd Degree By Eric Hoover Scholastic skepticism is contagious. Pundits and parents alike continue to second-guess the value of a college degree. After all, the recession has changed the way many Americans look at big-ticket purchases; plenty of families worry that today's expenses will not pay off tomorrow. Not surprisingly, today's cost-conscious public views college price tags with a wary eye. A curious thing happened when college gradu­ates were asked about the value of their own degrees, however. Why? In the Pew survey, all respondents were asked about the "main purpose" of college. These findings echo the words graduates often use to describe the benefits of their college experi­ences. Evan Bloom's diploma will tell you only so much about him. After graduating, in 2007, Mr. Mr. Mr. More than once, Mr. "My classes were great, but it was really everything else I was doing that mattered the most," Mr. 'Basic, Fundamental Training' Still, Ms. Ms. Jane Knecht can relate. Soon, Ms. As Ms. Ms. Mr.

Don't make an economic case for the liberal arts The liberal arts and sciences have no economic value. Let me repeat that: none, nada. Taught in the right spirit, they are useless from an economic point of view. They are designed in fact to be downright wasteful. The liberal arts’ ancient roots, after all, are from a world in which a few free men had the time -- the leisure -- to engage in study. In a democracy, however, we cannot afford to leave the liberal arts to the elite. There is also a second tradition that we have inherited from the ancient world, one more closely tied to Greece -- and Socrates and Plato -- than to the ideal of the Roman free citizen. Of course, in reality, the liberal arts are economically beneficial. All of these claims about the economic value of the liberal arts are probably true, but who cares? Yet we continue to argue that the liberal arts should be defended for their economic value. If our only god is money, we live in a sad society. The way forward, then, is simple.

3-year college degree programs not catching on Reformers have hailed the three-year degree as the potential salvation of higher education: a rewrite of the academic calendar that lowers the price of college by compressing it into 36 months. Several institutions have launched three-year degrees in a flurry of activity triggered by the economic downturn that began in 2008. Political leaders in at least two states, Ohio and Rhode Island, have instructed public colleges to offer accelerated degrees. But students have not responded, and most three-year degree programs have flopped — a reminder, college leaders say, that students still regard college as an experience to be savored. Why rush the best four years of your life? The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, a campus of 17,500 students, enrolled five students last year in its inaugural three-year degree program. There are exceptions. Katie Miller enrolled in the three-year degree program at Manchester, a liberal arts college southeast of Chicago. Pluses, though few takers

Presidents on Signifiers of College Quality By David Glenn In a year when public concern about the cost and purpose of college education is rising, a new survey has revealed an undercurrent of anxiety among college presidents about the quality of teaching and learning on their campuses. More than a quarter of the presidents in the Pew Research Center survey, done in association with The Chronicle, said they worried that their faculty members were grading too leniently. More than half said students spent less time studying than they did a decade ago. "It's surprising to me how relatively low the numbers were for any kind of assessment measures or surveys of engagement as effective gauges of college quality," said David C. "Presidents clearly don't think there are surveys or tests out there that really get them to effective assessment," said Mr. Barbara Couture, president of New Mexico State University, agrees with Mr. Ms. Other college leaders are not so enthusiastic about using the labor market as a bellwether of college quality.

The Future of the Humanities: A Think Tank Higher Ed Analytics: Give Recommendations, Not Numbers by Seth Odell Guest post by Eric Olsen Web Content Manger, Lewis University Did you know that many analytic tools such as Google Analytics can automate weekly or monthly reports, and e-mail them directly to your higher-ups? Isn’t that cool? Please don’t ever use this feature. When working with analytics, don’t present numbers. For instance, Google Analytics includes a Site Search metric that lets you see the most popular search terms used within your internal search engine, if you have one. That’s what your Higher Ed Analytics report should be – a highlight reel and action-item suggestions. Use In-Page Analytics to see exactly how users navigate your menus. Are you getting it? Your recommendation? “What? Traffic.

Most Presidents Favor No Tenure for Majority of Faculty - Surveys of the Public and Presidents By Jack Stripling The deteriorating number of tenured positions in higher education is a common source of concern for faculty, but few college presidents seem perturbed by the trend. Less than a quarter of college leaders who responded to a Pew Research Center survey, done in association with The Chronicle, said they would prefer full-time, tenured professors to make up most of the faculty at their institutions. Leaders of private four-year institutions were less enamored of tenure than were their public peers. At four-year public institutions, half of the presidents surveyed said they preferred tenured faculty. Advocates of tenure say it is the surest protection of academic freedom, creating a system of due process in which the burden of proof is upon administrators to demonstrate that a professor's dismissal is for cause, rather than a response to controversial scholarship. Cathy A. Benefits of Contracts "Nobody comes to Olin because they're looking for job security," he said. Mr. Mr.

Rethinking the humanities Ph.D. The warning last year from Russell Berman, who at the time was president of the Modern Language Association, was apocalyptic: If doctoral programs in the humanities do not reduce the time taken to graduate, they will become unaffordable and face extinction. Now, Berman has taken his ideas home. At Stanford University, where he is a professor of comparative literature and directs the German studies program, he and five other professors at the university have produced a paper that calls for a major rethinking at Stanford -- a reduction in the time taken to graduate by Ph.D. candidates in the humanities, and preparing them for careers within and beyond the academy. The professors at Stanford aren't just talking about shaving a year or so off doctoral education, but cutting it down to four or five years -- roughly half the current time for many humanities students. The Stanford professors aren’t alone in pushing this kind of thinking.

News: Saying More With Less Mission statements, despite being referenced as the philosophical essences of their respective institutions, don't get much respect on college campuses. Often wordy and cumbersome, they don't get the airtime or T-shirt placement enjoyed by new advertising slogans or the classic Latin motto. Everybody in Cambridge knows "Veritas," but you'd be hard-pressed to find a sweatshirt with the 220-word statement that starts with "Harvard College adheres to the purposes for which the Charter of 1650 was granted." But University of Rochester Provost Ralph W. "A mission statement isn't about what you do day to day, and it's not a vision statement about the hopes for the institution," Kuncl said. Mission statements tend to be discussed more in the corporate world than in higher education, but Kuncl's effort to highlight Rochester's mantra raises questions about the role such declarations could or should play at colleges and universities. It also raises questions about the best format for them.

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