Is College Becoming an Expensive Waste of Time?

December 14, 2012
TPP’s Tom Lindsay and other noted experts have issued a new report TOWARD STRENGTHENING TEXAS HIGHER EDUCATION and has identified 10 areas of reform for higher education:
“We are at risk of seeing a college education become an expensive waste of time,” said Lindsay. “To address this risk, we must restore both affordability and quality in Texas’ system of public higher education.”
Today, not only are students burying themselves in debt to pay for skyrocketing tuition increases, they are also receiving in far too many cases a deficient education, one that fails to prepare them for their future lives as employees, citizens, and leaders.
“A landmark national study measured student learning through the Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA) and found that 36 percent of students gain virtually nothing from four years of college.  This is a national tragedy.  It constitutes the education challenge of the 21st century for Texas and the nation,” said Lindsay. “To be accountable for education quality, every Texas public university should follow the example of the University of Texas System by using the CLA to test how much students actually learn in college. Students, parents, and taxpayers deserve to know how Texas schools measure up.”
The study goes on to list 10 areas of reform:
1.      Our Underachieving Civics Curriculum: Toward an Education for Informed Citizenship
2.      Texas Higher Education Adrift? Addressing the Crisis of Poor Student-Learning Outcomes
3.      Before the Bubble Bursts: Arresting the Unsustainable Increases in Tuition and Student-Loan Debt
4.      Ensuring That Taxpayers Are Getting What Their Tax Dollars Pay For: The “Returned Value” Model of University Assessment
5.      Producing Better Informed Consumers of Higher Education: Transparency Regarding the Market Value of the Various College Degrees
6.      Enhancing Fidelity to the Central Mission of Public Higher Education: Transparency on Student-Learning Outcomes
7.      Questioning Unexamined Assumptions: To What Extent Are Universities “Drivers of Economic Growth?”
8.      Lighten Texas Workforce Commission Regulations
9.      Employing Information Technology to Expand Access: Dual Credit
10.  Employing Information Technology to Better Address the Needs of At-Risk Students: Texas Early College High School
Dr. Richard Vedder, Director of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, Dr. Richard Bishirjian, President, Yorktown University of the Americas, and Dr. Harry Stille, South Carolina Higher Education Research/Policy Center also contributed to the study, which can be read in its entirety here.
Thomas K. Lindsay, Ph.D., is the Director of the Center for Higher Education at the Texas Public Policy Foundation.
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