Higher Education Tomorrow (November 27, 2006)

The high school students who work in Somali soup kitchens during the summer get into Ivy League universities and go into I (investment) banking.  The high school students who work in local soup kitchens get into public universities and go into IT (information technology).  The high school students who work during their school years in the kitchen of a local fast food establishment get into a community college and go back into the restaurant business.  Kitchens, Colleges and Careers.  Generalizations?  Sure.  Insights?  Some.

The average cost of tuition at a private university hit $30,000.00 at the same time that the population of the United States hit 300,000,000.00.  How will the country afford to educate the populace in the future?

Eighteen-year olds may be old enough to go to war, but they are not old enough to go to college.  Particularly boys.  The country should establish a two-year period of national service that can be served in a myriad of ways.  An internship in life.  The government could provide a subsistence stipend during the internship and then provide college tuition, room, board, pizza and beer money for two years.  The kids would go to college much more mature and disciplined and more involved with the adult world.  A core college curriculum could be presented in a more focused two-year program.  Students then could take an additional two years of specialized work if they show an aptitude and interest in an area.

There are too many colleges in America subsidized directly by governments and indirectly via favorable tax policy.  Buchanan & Harding College, renown for its government department and lacrosse team, should merge with Wordsworth & Longfellow, renown for its health sciences departments.  The schools could be consolidated in one town and supported by a lease of the other school’s facilities.  One institution could be converted into a ready-made community that is likely already part of another community.  Town and gown would become town and town.  The merged institution, Buchanan + Wordsworth (home of the Feckless Poets), could lease the excess dorm rooms as condominiums and provide ready-made libraries, cafeterias, and other community infrastructure for the tenants.

More of the courses should be offered on-line.  As the economy moves from bricks and mortar to the Internet, colleges must move from bricks and mortar and ivy to the Internet.  The intimacy of the 500-person lecture hall must give way to a more personal approach delivered directly to the student via computer. 

[See the article entitled “The Organization Kid” by David Brooks in the April, 2001 issue of “The Atlantic Monthly”].

Bumper stickers of the week:

Never let schooling get in the way of your education.

My honor student beat up your bully. 

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