To paraphrase Charles Dickens, it is the best of times and it is the worst of times for American higher education.
A college education is more widely available than at any time in our nation’s history, with well more than two-thirds of high school graduates attending college in the year following high school, and more than 80 percent beginning their higher education within a few years.
Thousands of schools both public and private, two-year and four-year, are filled with dedicated faculty and committed administrators who sincerely want to teach your sons and daughters, and to prepare them for careers and graduate school.
At the same time, college also costs more than ever, many students who reach college either fail or need remediation, and the simple attainment of a college diploma is no longer the ticket to financial success that it seemed to be only a few years ago.
And, despite the cost, it is extremely competitive to get into certain schools in this country, leading some families to consider study abroad options, not just for a semester but for the entirety of the undergraduate experience.
Where have things gone wrong, and how can parents help to fix the problem?
That is a complicated question, and it requires answers that I can only begin to suggest in this column. Then, with your input, we can search for solutions together over the coming weeks, months and years.
Some colleges and universities might have you believe that the answer is to be quiet and pay the bill. But thankfully, those schools are the exception rather than the rule, and I am fairly certain that the few schools who take that posture will not thrive – or even survive – over the long term.
The vast majority of schools do see you not only as a customer to be served, but also as a critical partner in the education of your children. They have read the studies which show the importance of parental involvement in the emotional and academic development of their offspring. And they have heard your voices in recent years, as you have demonstrated a stronger desire to get involved in and stay supportive of your young adults as they leave the comfort of home for the collegiate chapter of their lives.
Now that a foundation has been laid, it is more important than ever to move the relationship of colleges and universities with parents to the next level, where long-term and positive patterns of support and reinforcement can be forged.
At College Parents of America, our mission is to empower you to best support your child or young adult as he or she moves down the path to and through college. We aim to accomplish that mission through a three-pronged mix of advocacy, access to discounts on products and services, and timely, relevant information.
Each week, for more than two years, I have written this column in order to help meet our goal of providing the information you want and need. I plan to continue writing to you on a weekly basis, and today I am pleased to inform you of an exciting new initiative with an electronic publication called Inside Higher Ed. My goal is to make this weekly communication to you even more valuable.
Beginning with this e-mail message, and continuing each and every Monday, you will be receiving a compilation of stories that I believe will be of great interest to you as a current or college-bound parent. These stories will have been reported on in the previous seven days by the team of journalists at Inside Higher Ed. One of the most respected teams in the field, the members include writers who have been covering colleges and universities for decades, who are acutely aware of the importance of higher education in our country and who are determined to report, in a fair and comprehensive way, on issues that affect students, faculty members, school administrators and all who have a stake in higher education, including parents.
Some weeks there may be just a few stories from Inside Higher Ed, while in other weeks there may be as many as a dozen. This week will probably be fairly typical of where we end up most often; there are 8 stories on topics such as academic freedom, admissions, political correctness and a host of other issues. Whatever the number, the commitment from us at College Parents of America is to feed you useful content so that your role as a supportive parent is made that much easier.
RED HOT CHINA
Study of the country and its language is booming at U.S. colleges – and changes in high schools may soon swell enrollments even further.
Are video games about to infiltrate the final frontier: the classroom?
THE STING OF RACIAL INCIDENTS
Why do students on some campuses do offensive things to their peers year after year after year? Experts weigh in.
REACHING STUDENTS WITH LEARNING DISABILITIES
Landmark College and five community colleges will work to develop strategies that can be used by many institutions.
DEVRY’S FIRST DORM
Student housing is rare in for-profit higher education, but an experiment in California is off to a solid start.
MORE MED STUDENTS
Applications are up and enrollments are setting records, but not for black students.
UNDERSTANDING INDEPENDENT STUDENTS
A majority of undergraduates aren’t considered to be financially tied to their parents.
THE PROFESSOR AS PERSONAL TRAINER
Academics worry too much about consumer values in higher education, but Alex Golub writes that it’s not about the money – it’s about the relationship with students.