The Evolution of American Higher Education
James M. Danko
Institutions must shed old ways, leave comfort zone, to keep college education relevant, desirable
This is the season when many high school seniors are applying to and awaiting decisions from colleges and universities. It's an exciting time for those of us in higher education. We are reminded that learning is a lifelong pursuit. We are energized by the ideas and ambitions of our students.
While we are excited about the prospects of a new freshman class, the economic downturn of the last three years has exposed and amplified our society's skepticism about the value of higher education. Yes, people still want to go to college, but there are growing concerns about student debt and unemployment after graduation. Students worry about their return on investment. Institutional leaders worry about hiring and retaining effective faculty and administrators, and about the constant cost of maintaining physical and technological infrastructures.
Like the auto and newspaper industries, American higher education needs to innovate and reinvent itself if it's going to survive, thrive, and recapture its earlier glory. Industries that do not recognize the need for transition -- or that do not manage that transition with agility -- are likely to fail.
I would argue that we're already in the midst of a changing higher education model. My colleagues across the country and I are working to ensure that college is affordable and accessible. And we are looking carefully at our curricular and extracurricular programs to determine if the status quo truly meets the needs of our students.
The evolution of American higher education is predominantly taking place within this programmatic realm. Leaders of colleges and universities are working on strategic initiatives that engage and invest in our students. We are looking for new ways to nurture and encourage young minds so they can succeed throughout their lives in an increasingly competitive world.
In spite of this progress, the questions remain: Are we making changes that are meaningful enough, and are we making them quickly enough? Higher education improvement needs to be more of a widespread movement than an ad hoc effort. How do we join this crucial effort while staying true to our institutions' traditions and core values? Universities are typically change resistant, but change is imperative to ensure that a college education remains relevant and desirable. Let's shed old constraints and step outside our comfort zones.
Today's students are creative and inventive, and the colleges and universities they attend must be creative and inventive, too.
At Butler, this spirit of creativity will be manifested in the
Those of us in university administration must finally embrace, deep within ourselves and within the bones of our institutions, the fact that business as usual in American higher education is over. We have to try new things. Our students are justifiably demanding more accountability. We need to embrace blue-sky thinking and generate new ways to realize these ideas. By doing so, we can ensure that a college education yields the great return on investment that it should.
Our students should expect an education where they learn to take risks, develop an ability to adapt to change, and become the leaders we know they are. A college or university that can deliver this kind of education will endure and thrive.
- Obama to High-Priced Universities: 'You're on Notice'
- Tips to Overcome a Bad Grade in College
- Look Out for These Federal Aid Changes in 2012
- The Evolution of American Higher Education
- Consider This Before You Pay for an Online Degree
- Time Management Tips for Online Students
- Weighing Costs of an Online Master's in Nursing
- 3 Career Reasons Why Students Get Online MBAs
- Waste Of Time For Business Students to Take Courses on Government
- 5 Great College Towns for Winter Enthusiasts
- Tips for First-Generation College Students
- M.B.A.'s May Face Lower Salaries in Corporate Social Responsibility
- 3 Ways to Use Foursquare to Connect With Your College
- 3 Tips to Master the TOEFL
- New Guarantees Help College Students Graduate in Four Years
- Tips for College Applicants, Students with Physical Disabilities
- Foreign-Born Getting STEM Degrees at Higher Rates than Native-Born
- How to Get the Most Money for Your Textbooks
- How to Kick Off Your Student Loan Repayments
- With College, Only the Motivated Need Apply
- Government Is Behind the Curve
- Economy Puts a Premium on Postsecondary Skills
- College Graduates Earn Higher Pay
- More, Better Jobs for College Graduates
- With College Degree, One Size Does Not Fit All
- College Is a Safe Bet
- You Can Lead Kids to College but You Can't Make Them Learn
- A College Degree Is Well Worth the Time, Cost, and Effort
- Some Career Pathways Require a Four-Year College Degree, Many Don't
- Going to College Is a Mistake for Many
- Average Student Debt Reaches All-Time High
- Tips for Mastering Alumni Interviews
- 4 Tips for Making the Most of Liberal Arts Degrees
- Even As They Proliferate, Online MBAs Remain Controversial
- High School Teachers Make Video Gaming Academic
- Global Classrooms Use Technology to Prep Students for Workforce
- Yammer Trumps Facebook for Some Graduate Students
- How to Apply to College for Free
- President Lays Out New Student Loan Rules
- Some Recommend Working for Colleges for Free Tuition
- 4 Tech Tips for Parents to Embrace Digital Education
- How to Go to Medical School for Free
- Students Can Ditch Competition by Interning This Spring
- 5 New Ways Colleges Are Reaching High School Students
- College Admissions Officials Turn to Facebook to Research Students
- At Some Colleges, Professors Live in Dorms, Too
- The Viability and Fairness of Value-Added Models for STEM Teachers
- High School Students Learning by Skype
- The Unorthodox Success Strategies of Millionaires
- 7 Ways to Slip Through the Sophomore Slump
- Colleges Step Up to Meet Dyslexia Challenge
- How to Save Time On Your College Applications
- Common Application Goes Mobile With New Site
- Baby Boomers Keep Learning With Continuing Education Classes
- Why Math and Science Education Means More Jobs
- AP Test Results Offer Hope for STEM Education in U.S.
- Companies Must Play a Vital Role in STEM Education
- Output Metrics Increasingly Influence College Decisions
- 6 Ways to Network While You're in College
- SAT Reading Scores Lowest in 40 Years
- Growing Number of College Grads Filing for Bankruptcy Protection
- Back to School and Deeper in Debt
- Dipping Into Your Retirement Account to Pay for College
- Colleges Offer Hidden Savings to Students
- 5 Ways Commuters Can Make Campus Feel Like Home
- Dropouts Rob Government and Economy of Billions
- Student Loans Pack Surprising Benefits
- These Free Websites Help Students With Classwork
- Investing in Education Is Smart Business
- STEM Education - It's Elementary
- STEM Education and Teachers: The Critical Link
Copyright © 2012 U.S. News & World Report