|WHY GO TO COLLEGE?|
Anne Matthews takes your questions on what really goes on within campus walls....
May 27, 1997
in this forum:
How will new technologies change educational opportunities? To what extent do social, moral and political biases of faculty and administrators direct a college's budget? What is the purpose of a core curriculum? Why is a professor's research encouraged more than his or her teaching skills? How does grade inflation effect the quality of education at prestigious universities? Additional comments....
May 1, 1997:
A discussion on the rising cost of higher education .
February 10, 1997
Experts discuss President Clinton's plans for college tuition assistance.
December 26, 1996
A NewsHour panel scrutinizes the Democrat's plans for the 105th Congress' education initiatives.
Financial aid links for higher education.
Harry Berndt of St. Louis, Missouri , asks:
There are so many variables to consider when we view education in the U.S. These questions are only a beginning!
1) How would education change in the U.S., if we valued work in a different way?
2) Does the present cost differentials between private universities, state universities, and community colleges tend to perpetuate inequality?
3) Would our higher education system be improved if, like Norway, we would provide free education through graduate school for those qualified, and free and valued skill related education for those either not qualified or not interested in university pursuits?
Anne Matthews responds:
1)If Americans began to think differently about work, I believe we'd see a much-needed argument over the point of college: is it a career-credentialing machine, or is it a place where learning is pursued for its own sake? There's a dozen competing definitions of the campus out there at the moment: Rite of passage. Meritocracy. Nation in miniature. Aging vat. Marriage mart. Theme park. Postmodern plantation. A place that makes people safe for ideas. A system for telling students what not to think about. A corporate enterprise, with educational subsidiaries. Club Med, with a little light reading.
2) It can look like that from outside the system; the view from inside is a little different. A two-tier universe is clearly forming in higher education: fifty or so extremely rich schools, and then below them, in varying degrees of distress, everyone else; campuses of permanent abundance, campuses of grinding scarcity, with less and less middle ground. Since the financial rewards of college are increasing steeply as the economy becomes more knowledge-based, I'd guess that in the next century the hot issue will not be affirmative action per se but rather access to those relatively few privileged campuses. You can get an excellent education at any campus in America, if you're willing to search it out; a limited-issue, brand-name degree that puts you on the inside track to power and money is something else again.
3) Better skilled-trades education would be a blessing in the U.S. More graduate students? I'm not so sure. Norway is a great country, but it's got a homogenous population and a historic respect for learning. The U.S. has always had a powerful anti-intellectual strain, a conviction that campusdwellers are very bright people with no common sense--which is why our attitudes toward college and professors have been so interestingly ambivalent across the centuries. Many state legislatures now are pushing for more oversight, more accountability, more measurement of outcomes re a college education; my guess is that they might balk at paying more people to become professional thinkers.