Today I was knee-deep in research for a project charter team I’m serving on when I stumbled across a report in which the authors concluded with a great analogy (see pg. 26), an analogy I just have to share.
According to the authors, the college completion agenda (which I discussed a little on Monday) implies that colleges are like factories, producing a product: graduates. But that’s not true. It’s just not how higher education institutions work. Rather, the authors said, colleges are like health clubs: they provide you with a lot of different tools to successfully accomplish your goal(s), but they’re not responsible for making you reach them–you are. If the tools are provided, but you don’t use them, you won’t succeed.
In other words, the college completion agenda may well be, as I previously argued, propelling us in the wrong direction–a direction in which the institution assumes responsibility for the education of its students rather than the students assuming the responsibility for themselves. And that runs contrary to our very mission (and is why employers are complaining about graduates who can’t think or write or do basic math).
Higher education institutions should provide the tools for students to succeed (quality educators, tutoring services, counseling services, financial aid resources, and so on)–but it’s up to them to use those tools to their advantage so they do. Anything else isn’t college. And it isn’t acceptable. And that’s just my opinion, not necessarily anyone else’s.