U.S. Colleges Put Low Priority on Student Learning, Say Authors of 'We're Losing Our Minds'

Monday, May 21, 2012

An estimated 50 percent of people who receive a four-year degree from an American college lack the skills expected of a college graduate, which means U.S. higher education needs to fundamentally change the way they operate, say the authors of "We're Losing Our Minds: Rethinking American Higher Education."

"We're getting a lot less than we're paying for at a time when we need more,"  co-author Richard Hersch said during a presentation at the Educational Writers Association convention held this weekend in Philadelphia. Hersch is former president of Hobert and William Smith Colleges in New York and Trinity College in Hartford, 

"Higher education really needs to question its priorities, rewards, structures, principles and values," Hersch said. "Learning itself must become a primary touchstone for decision-making."

Hersch wrote the book with Richard Keeling, who shared the stage with Hersch at the EWA presentation. Keeling is a former professor at University of Virginia and University Wisconsin who now owns a consulting firm that works with institutions of higher education to improve their quality. Hersch is a senior consultant for the firm.

Their basic message: While national debate over the value of a college education has focused on the cost, the more critical issue is whether students are acquiring the skills that have long been associated with a college degree.

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