First, remember "Declining by Degrees" from a few years ago?
Over the years, we have pushed college so much that we have diluted the quality of education and, certainly, the economic worth of the college degree itself.
I have been commenting for years now that the problem began with linking higher education to nothing but employment benefits, which then made an undergraduate degree nothing more than a credentialing process. If we want to return to the grander ideas of higher education, then, we have to re-think how we measure what we value:
Here's a simple exercise that will help us appreciate how much we are missing the target right now. Think about how to answer the following questions. Which is the more important outcome?
1. A.) Acquiring knowledge or
B.) Improving critical thinking
2. A.) Getting a job or
B.) Getting a job you love
3) A) A graduate who gets a job or
B.) A graduate who creates jobs for others
4. A.) A good job or
B.) A good life
5. A.) A good life or
B.) A good society
The vast majority of us would answer B's across the board. ...
Aside from a hint of measurement of critical thinking, we are not currently measuring any of the most valued outcomes of an education. ...
The answer won't be found in running faster and harder toward the targets currently in front of us. And it won't be found in a new government standard or ranking system. We have to aim higher, for a wholly different -- and much more meaningful -- set of outcomes. They may be harder to measure than the ones we have now. But that's no excuse. Colleges and universities everywhere can measure these outcomes now, and if we want to defend the value of higher education, we must measure them.