Bosses Seek Critical Thinking Skills, But How About the Rest of the Company?

The headline in last week’s Wall Street Journal proclaimed: “Bosses Seek ‘Critical Thinking,’ but What Is That?” If you go to any conference these days focused on “winning the war for talent” or “filling the skills gap,” you’ll often hear corporate leaders espouse the benefits of so-called soft skills and how they are lacking in […]

Is American Higher Education In Crisis?

Going to college is one of the biggest investments—if not the biggest one—families will make in their lifetimes. In some circles, the pressure to get a jump-start on the college search process to get into the “right” school is intense, although half of American colleges have become less selective in the last 50 years. In […]

Big Idea 2015: Let’s Rethink the Bachelor’s Degree

The 1.7 million students who graduated with a bachelor’s degree from American colleges and universities this year joined millions of other young adults who are trying to find their way in a new economy. But this is not a great time to be a recent college graduate. The average student-loan debt is $33,000, up by […]

Reimagining the Undergraduate Experience: 4 Provocative Ideas

How can we reimagine the undergraduate college experience in the future?

That was the question at the heart of my column last week on the overworked bachelor’s degree, which generated plenty of discussion, agreement, and pushback in the comments. It was also a question at the center of a yearlong exercise at Stanford University’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design, also known as the

The exercise was the first time that the school turned its renowned “design thinking” process on itself….

From Tennessee, a Solution for Mission Creep

American higher education loves to tout the diversity of its 4,000-plus institutions. Sure, there are four-year universities and two-year community colleges, public and private institutions, vast research universities, mom-and-pop trade schools.

But most institutions that come to mind when we talk about higher education in the United States are strikingly similar in their structure and their ambitions. They desire to keep up with the Joneses (it’s why they establish peer groups for dozens of measures, whether admissions or research) or, better yet, move to a better neighborhood (their aspirant group).

Continue Reading

To Reach the New Market for Education, Colleges Have Some Learning to Do

Afew weeks ago, I moderated a panel discussion at the South by Southwest education conference, in Austin, Tex. Known as SXSWedu, the gathering is in only its fourth year and already draws some 6,500 entrepreneurs, educators, investors, and policy makers, easily surpassing the attendance at many of the annual meetings held by the various higher-education associations.

Continue Reading

Merit Aid Won’t Help Colleges Survive

In the summer of 1994, I interned at U.S. News & World Report, where I was assigned to collect data for the magazine’s annual college rankings, just beginning to grow in influence. A few years later, when I started reporting for The Chronicle, college-enrollment managers and presidents asked me about the methodology employed by U.S. News and just how much they could manipulate the rankings by attracting higher-caliber students. Their approach for moving up in the rankings was relatively simple: Offer financial aid to smart students, whether they needed the money or not.

The merit-aid arms race was in full force by the start of the new millennium. But in 2000, some 53 percent of institutional aid was still going to needy students. As a result, few higher-education leaders worried about the consequences.

Continue Reading

How Starbucks is Modernizing the Free Tuition Benefit for the 21st Century Worker

The announcement coming from Starbucks today that it will pay for an online degree from Arizona State University for thousands of its workers has the chance to shift the conversation around a college education as an employee benefit much like the company did with health insurance for part-timers in the last decade.

Continue Reading

If I Were 22: Take My Time, Focus, and Adapt

Here’s my advice to my 22-year-old self: take your time, focus, and be adaptable.

When I turned 22, I was in my last semester at Ithaca College. I had already completed my requirements for a journalism degree. A professor suggested that I use my last semester to enroll in some classes that I never had the chance to take before and might prove useful in forming the foundation of knowledge we all need in a global economy.

Continue Reading

It Really Doesn’t Matter Personally or Professionally If You Went to Harvard or State U.

A few days after most of the high-school graduating Class of 2014 decided where they are going to college in the fall by sending a deposit to secure their spot on a campus comes a new study that finds, despite conventional wisdom, it doesn’t really matter to your eventual well-being where you attend school.

Indeed, there isn’t much of a difference between the most selective, top colleges in the U.S. News & World Report rankings and everyone else. Also, there is no difference between typically high-priced private colleges and lower-priced public universities.

Continue Reading