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ERIC Number: EJ895379
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 3
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0190-2946
Rethinking the Rules of the Higher Education Game
Sacks, Peter
Academe, v96 n4 p22-24 Jul-Aug 2010
The familiar conversation about access to higher education is limited to what college costs and whether colleges are giving people their money's worth. While important, that conversation may be constricting people's ability to understand what is really limiting the promise of higher education in America. Americans are clearly troubled about the rising costs of going to college, which they increasingly view as an economic and social necessity in the United States. Fully six in ten Americans believe colleges and universities "operate more like a business, focused more on the bottom line than on the educational experience of students." The questions that the authors of "Squeeze Play," the recent, widely reported-on survey by Public Agenda and the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, pose in their survey illustrate a disturbing public skepticism about higher education. Unfortunately, with its narrow focus on the all-too-familiar tuition and efficiency story, "Squeeze Play" and countless reports like it barely scratch the surface of why colleges and universities are not living up to their promise as vital institutions in the American democracy. Colleges and universities can't change the American class system. But they could do more to make inequality of opportunity less bad instead of much worse. The author suggests that institutions should rethink their reliance on admissions tests like the SAT, following the lead of such diverse institutions as the University of Texas, Bates College, Sarah Lawrence College, Oregon State University, and the University of Kansas. They should also promote projects to create better indicators for consumers about college quality than what they get from traditional rankings, such as those published by "U.S. News & World Report." The old paradigm of self-perpetuating "merit" is highly resistant to change, and the many faculty members acculturated to that paradigm are often among those who resist change the most. In order to build colleges and universities for the future, faculty members should take more ownership of undergraduate admissions and become more intimately involved in admissions decisions. As the standard-bearers for an institution's academic integrity, faculty members should consider that the system to which they've been acculturated is not the only--nor the best--way to run a meritocracy. At the same time, they should be mindful that the system compounds inequality because their institutions allocate opportunities based upon rules of the game that reward people born to the right parents and exclude those who were not so lucky.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United States
Identifiers - Assessments and Surveys: SAT (College Admission Test)