What is needed is non-incremental change; to make higher learning a reality, we as a nation must undertake a comprehensive review of undergraduate higher education and introduce dramatic reforms in colleges and universities of all types.
Culture -- in higher education, and in our society -- is at the heart of the matter.
Expectations for hard work in college have fallen victim to smorgasbord-style curriculums, large lecture classes, and institutional needs to retain students in order to make the budget.
Minimal student effort is rewarded with inflated grades.
In the peer culture, time spent on class work, reading, and reflection must be limited; too much of it becomes a stain on a student’s social value.
It has become possible -- even likely -- to survive academically, be retained in school, get passing grades and graduate with a baccalaureate despite long-term patterns of alcohol and other substance abuse that are known to damage the formation of new memories and reduce both the capacity and the readiness to learn.
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?
We mean the enormous expenditures devoted purely to securing a “better ranking” in the magazine surveys.
We mean the progressive reduction in academic, intellectual, and behavioral expectations that has undermined the culture, learning conditions, and civility of so many campus communities.