By Tom Lindsay
A Washington Post op ed displays with unusual clarity the growing disconnect between the higher education establishment and the society it serves.
Penned by Hunter Rawlings, the op ed, titled, “College is not a commodity: Stop treating it like one,” seeks to correct “most commentary on the value of college,” which is “naive, or worse, misleading.” For Rawlings—president of the Association of American Universities and former president of Cornell and the University of Iowa—the problem is that “most everyone now evaluates college in purely economic terms, thus reducing it to a commodity like a car or a house.”
Such an economic focus, writes Rawlings, “while not useless, begin[s] with a false assumption.” If society now insists on treating “college as a commodity,” it needs to grasp the fact that “[u]nlike a car, college requires the ‘buyer’ to do most of the work to obtain its value. The value of a degree depends more on the student’s input than on the college’s curriculum.” However, “most public discussion of higher ed today pretends that students simply receive education from colleges the way a person walks out of a Best Buy with a television.” CONTINUE READING HERE