What I’m about to say I think every parent should pay attention to – and although I’m not a parent myself, I do work in higher education, and therefore I follow what is happening within it.
This article was over at LinkedIn yesterday, and I reposted it and said – “Yup – the house is on fire!” But this really isn’t the first time I’ve pointed out that something is burning. Ironically, one of my friends who also worked in higher ed liked the post. She gets it too.
The article above is significant because it shortens the time for colleges and universities to figure out how to deal with ROI/cost effectiveness and generalized delivery of education to 5 years. That is, by 2018, the writers of this article are predicting that higher ed will change, the question then becomes – who will change that fast (5 years in higher ed is really, really a short period of time), and who will die. Said another way – how fast and how much attention a college should be paying attention to the disruption in higher ed on a scale from 1-10, 10 being “very concerned and better start making some radical change,” I’m currently at about 17.
If I was a parent (again, which I’m not) here’s what I’d be looking for in order to get my kid ahead of the curve:
1. I’d be looking for high schools with specific college feeder programs and credit – college kids must, must, MUST have college course credits BEFORE they reach the ivy covered buildings – so dual credit programs are now a no-brainer for high school students. Furthermore, I think colleges should creep backwards into high schools in order to give students the college experience earlier. College taught me how to learn and think on my own, and kids need those critical thinking skills as early as possible. I’ve seen students hit the halls with 20-22 hours of college credit as Freshman. This is smart.
2. Ask the colleges you’re visiting what they require for service learning – The best school in the nation for service learning, at least from what I’ve read and heard, is Tulane. They weren’t always this way, but post-Katrina, their president had an awakening–that college is more than just classrooms and whiteboards. Learning in the real world and giving back to society is also a key skill that should be part of the college experience. If you ask the admissions counselors at the colleges you’re visiting about service learning, and they stare back at you with a blank look – run. Seriously–do not send your child to that school. Because, they’re going to miss out on a key part of the college experience. Part of growing up is learning outside the classroom and giving back to the larger society, and if the school only offers inside classroom learning, you’re not going to get a good ROI, and you are robbing your child of an experience that other schools have mastered in delivering within their curriculum.
3. Read Tony Wagner’s book, then ask the schools you’re visiting what they do in the curriculum that matches his 7 points for innovative learning. Tony and Bob Compton (the guy that produced one of the scariest all time movies I’ve seen, Two Million Minutes) teamed up for this book, Creating Innovators, and it is spot on for the future ideal education in my mind. I would highly suggest reading it, then start asking the colleges your child is interested in what they offer to match the outline Tony suggests in this book.
I won’t give all of them away – just one that I think is important – interdisciplinary, team-based problem solving (OK – that’s kind of two, but I’ll go ahead and merge them together for this post). Ask the colleges of choice what they are doing about and how they offer interdisciplinary, team-based problem solving in their curriculum. Again, if you get blank stares, forget them and move on to someone who can answer the question. The colleges with blank stares aren’t getting that the real world works this way, and therefore, good colleges and universities will understand how the real world works and OFFER via classes and projects team based interdisciplinary learning, because that’s exactly how the real new world economy works.
There. I feel better knowing that instead of just shouting that the house is on fire, I’m arming you, my fab 13, with some preventative measures (OK – fire hoses) that can keep back some of the blaze.