As we continue our discussion on the value of the University Experience, I wanted to highlight one of our readers from yesterday.  Kendall wrote:

Our country now has our first generation of parents who are mostly college educated. And immediately we want to tell them/us that they made a mistake by attending. That is a tough pill to swallow. Even still, many of us parents are willing to at least question our own experience in spite of the benefits of it. I do not think that the university experience itself is the problem. More of it has to do with the funding of the university experience. Could it be less expensive? Absolutely. Is higher education an experience to which all are entitled? What about residential higher education versus commuter higher education?

Fair enough Kendall.  And to a large degree, I totally agree with you.

It’s not that University isn’t important.  After all, if you have two job applications on your desk, and you have the ability to hire someone for your company; will you hire the employee that has a high grade point average at an Ivy League school?  Or will you hire someone who just took a few years off from high school and decided to enter the job market?

The world works in mysterious ways.  But one way is for sure.  Today, if you try and enter post education life without a degree from somewhere, you’re at a severe disadvantage.  So, I’m not at all trying to write about the University as a place we shouldn’t try to make available.  What I would like to focus on is the value.

As Kendall asked, How can we begin to talk about funding?  

Believe me, bring up this elephant in a University President’s office, and it’s like the CIA alarms at Langley go off.  Money has a very powerful impact on how people think, perform, and plan.  When you start threatening the idea that we need to re-invent the way we pay for higher education, the traditionalists all cower in fear.

They fear their job.
They fear their image.
They fear their donors.
They fear the University won’t compete on the same platform as others.

And when they fear, they cower.  All of the sudden, new ideas are harder and harder to think of inside the small box of “Well, that’s how we’ve always done it.”

But what if we think about funding in light of…

How many years does it take to actually learn what you need to learn?  Maybe it’s 4.  But maybe its 2.  Or what if it’s 6.  All I’m saying is, let’s open the box and explore.

What is the Ultimate purpose of the University?  Recently, a major news outlet called today’s college experience a 4 year party with $100K cover charge.  (Believe me, I can throw a heck of a party for $100K)

Are there ways we can integrate classroom teaching with practical relationship training?  Maybe there’s a way to integrate our society’s job needs into the local town’s university to appeal to those students who are always declaring the “undecided” major.  Surely there’s a technology out there that can be shared with incoming freshman. Something like:

“If you want to live in X – Here are some projected job needs in the next 4 years.  Apply Here…”

And then students could actually focus on the studies they need for a degree, while at the same time working to develop those interpersonal skills that are equally as important.

The conversation needs to happen at a high level.  We need thinkers and dreamers to help us imagine a way to help families with the cost, provide the highest level of education to the student, and be able to fuel a society with so many different needs.

Maybe this is the beginning of a new think tank.  After all….we’ve got the intellect, the creativity, and the reason to dream.  Let’s all engage, and solve this looming problem.  If we don’t, I’m afraid we’re setting ourselves up for a black future economically, vocationally, and nationally.


  1. “They fear their job.
    They fear their image.
    They fear their donors.
    They fear the University won’t compete on the same platform as others.”

    Substitute “customers/clients” for “donors” and “business/company” for “University”. Is this any different than any other organization in a capitalistic society? We must justify our existence and the expenses thereof, as well as the need for more capital in the future. Or even scarier, substitute “congregation” and “Church”

    This is the consequence of more. For a long time, higher education was not caught up on the arms race that comes from submitting to “the consequence or more.” At our univeristy, President Ken Reynolds said towards the end of his tenure that Baylor was done building for the next fifty years (at least I think I have that right). In the 20 or so years since then, the campus has more than tripled in size. Most top paid state employees are university administrators and COACHES. The consequence of more extends beyond our kids and colleges. It even affects our tax dollars as citizens.

    So can these massive institutions ever scale back? Should they?

  2. Hey Andy, here is an interesting take on another option.

    As we all know, the traditional route from HS to University is not always best for everyone. The pressure today to find the “right” school and to afford said school can definitely feel overwhelming. I think the answer lies in knowing your teen’s strengths and weaknesses in a self paced academic environment and helping them to navigate their after school work/life dreams. There are so many different school options and the options are not one size fits all. If we as a larger community could learn to open our minds to the less traditional higher education routes, I think we would see our students thriving in ways that we never imagined possible. (Gap Year, Community College, Internships, Military, etc)

    Just food for thought.

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