Help us ‘Rethink College’ in 3 Twitter chats

BY Nora Daly  August 22, 2014 at 6:51 PM EST

From freshmen leaving home for the first time to seniors anticipating their next steps after graduation to part-time students and those pursuing degrees online — students around the country are preparing for the fall semester. Many will have more than midterms to worry about as they face rising tuition, student debt and an uncertain job market. In an effort to address these issues, educators, administrators and policy makers are all “Rethinking College.” In a week-long series, PBS NewsHour’s Hari Sreenivasan reports on various innovations and initiatives aimed at making college more accessible and affordable.

Watch this coverage as it airs on the program all next week, watch it in advance online, or watch the complete series as a mini-documentary, available through the PBS apps in Apple TV, Roku and Xbox. Visit our website for additional features and reporting on higher education, appearing throughout the week. @NewsHour will also be hosting a series of three Twitter chats — Tuesday, August 26th -Wednesday, August 28th. Join us, along with an assortment of experts, to discuss several issues currently being debated both in and outside of the education system. All chats will take place from 1-2 p.m. EDT. Please chime in using the hashtag #NewsHourChats.

The High Cost of Education – Tuesday

On Tuesday, August 26th, we will look at the high cost of higher education, and whether or not it is practical to pursue a degree in the current economic climate. Beth Akers (@BethAkersEd) and Matthew Chingos (@chingos) from the Brookings Institution (@BrookingsEd) will discuss their research on the impact of student loan debt. Filmmaker Andrew Rossi (@IvoryTowerFilm) will discuss his film “Ivory Tower,” which looks at student loan debt in America. Jon Marcus of the Hechinger Report (@hechingerreport), economist and Urban Institute fellow Robert Lerman (@urbaninstitute), and Becky Klein-Collins, associate vice president of research and policy development at the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (@CAELnews) will discuss how apprenticeships and technical training could be integrated into the current system to provide a practical alternative.

What Makes a Degree Valuable? – Wednesday

On Wednesday, August 27th, we will explore what makes a college degree “valuable.” Should students pursue degrees in business, math and science, the most likely fields to yield a job offer immediately after graduation? Is there value in a liberal arts degree, if it teaches a student to become a lifelong learner? Temple University economics professor Douglas Webber (@dougwebberecon) will discuss his recent paper, in which he simulated earnings trajectories for individuals with different college majors. Chief Data Strategist for U.S. News Education, Bob Morse (@Bob_Morse), will discuss U.S. News’ methodology and criteria in deciding their annual college rankings. Michael Roth (@mroth78), president of Wesleyan University, and Christoph Guttentag (@DukeAdmissDean), Dean of Undergraduate Admissions at Duke University, will share their perspectives on the value of a liberal arts education. Jon Marcus (@hechingerreport) will also share his insights.

Should Colleges be Run Like Businesses? – Thursday

On Thursday, August 28th we ask whether colleges should be run more like businesses. Is it beneficial to have a CEO with managerial and administrative background, rather than a dean who rose up through the ranks of academia? Would students gain if they were thought of as “customers”? What are the potential drawbacks? Jon Marcus (@hechingerreport) recently wrote an article on Rio Salado Community College in Arizona, which has become increasingly entrepreneurial in response to funding pressures. He will join the conversation, along with Rio Salado’s vice president of academic affairs, Dr. Jennifer McGrath (@RioSaladoOnline). David Attis (@DavidAttis), the senior director of academic research with the Education Advisory Board — a company that provides research and consulting to higher education institutions — will weigh in as well.