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Explore the future of higher education with Hari Sreenivasan

BY Merrill Schwerin  August 22, 2014 at 6:20 PM EST

PBS NewsHour’s Hari Sreenivasan traveled the country this year to explore the state of higher education. He will share five of stories he found as part of a week-long look at how America is rethinking the college experience. The series comes at a time when many believe higher education is at a crossroads.

rethinkingcollegeDuring the week of Aug. 25, PBS NewsHour will explore that crossroads with Sreenivasan’s broadcast stories as well as online articles and Twitter chats. In the past year, educators, policy makers and the Obama administration have begun a lively conversation about the effectiveness of the nation’s higher education system. Looking at national statistics, it’s easy to see why. Only 53 percent of college students in America go on to graduate, and 35 million have some credit, but no degree.

At the same time, economists estimate that two-thirds of all jobs in five years will require some kind of post-secondary degree. Tuition at public institutions has skyrocketed, doubling in some states, as legislatures slash funds to deal with a sagging economy. Student debt now tops $1 trillion. The average debt owed by student borrowers is $26,000. Behind home mortgages, student loans are the second largest source of personal debt, more than credit cards and auto loans.

The massive financial burden and changing job market have raised questions about the value of a degree and spawned innovative new programs.

But it’s not all bad news. Our broadcast reports will feature some of the cutting-edge innovations on campus, including performance-based funding, challenges to the age-old credit hour system, online learning and proposals to ease student debt.

Online, we examine the increasing cost of a college education, pressures to improve graduation rates and the changing demographics of college students.

To see all of the on work on the changes and challenges in higher education, visit our Rethinking College page.

PBS NewsHour coverage of higher education is supported by the Lumina Foundation and American Graduate: Let’s Make it Happen, a public media initiative made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.