Higher ed must reframe arguments about viability
- In an atmosphere where students and families are questioning the value of a postsecondary education, panelists at the National Association of College and University Business Officers' annual meeting said higher ed institutions must find a way to reframe the discourse surrounding the value of a college education, Inside Higher Ed reports.
- Brian C. Mitchell, the former president of Washington & Jefferson College and Bucknell University, said that colleges shouldn't forsake the argument about the importance of a liberal arts education, but he said institutions needed to acknowledge that students and families are seeking different things from a college degree, including a more assured path into career success.
- Matt Salmon, a vice president for government relations at Arizona State University who formerly served in Congress, said legislators are unlikely to approve President Donald Trump's proposed higher education cuts, but he believes many are hearing concerns from constituents that student loan debt could be the next financial "bubble," akin to the 2008 housing crash.
With potential students and current enrollees increasingly dour on the benefits of attaining a liberal arts degree, some advocates, including college presidents, continue to maintain that a postsecondary education could benefit graduates even if they continue on into STEM careers. Muhlenberg College President John Williams detailed those benefits in an Education Dive interview last year, arguing that Steve Jobs' approach to the design of Apple products was inspired by a calligraphy class he enrolled in during his time as a student at Reed College. It is impossible to know what the future will entail, Williams said, so students must be equipped with the skills to adapt to a future workforce and economy that will look vastly different from what we have now.
In a way, Williams' argument mirrors the perspective of early childhood educators participating at a Tufts University summer camp on how to introduce tech tools to young children. The educators maintained that an undue emphasis on coding may not be beneficial for children and that it's better from them to utilize technology in the process of learning core skills like collaboration, critical thinking and the ability to positively react to temporary failure. STEM has been (and continues to be) a strong focus for K-12 and higher ed institutions, but with news like the Tufts summer camp and the increased popularity of STEAM education (with the added "A" for arts), perhaps schools are starting to adjust their perspective on how best to utilize tech in instruction — not as the solution, but as one of several means to reach it.
- Inside Higher Ed The Case for Higher Ed in a Job-Focused World