-by Jon Bergmann-
Universities should be places where students are taught by the best and brightest people on the planet. Where they are challenged to think and receive a world-class education. These are places where students are supposed to love to learn, explore, and ask hard questions with their professors at their side. Unfortunately, quite the opposite is happening at my daughter’s university, and likely at many around the country. At $35,000+ per year and postgraduate loans that take years to pay off, this is a big rip-off.
She attends a sizeable land-grant university that touts itself as an innovative place to learn and grow. Verbiage on the institution’s website espouses how students can explore their passions and curiosities. But instead, she has been in class after class where professors lecture to mostly empty lecture halls, and often there is little regard for the students and their learning.
I recently chatted with her and a couple of her friends about their experiences at the university, and they all agreed that they were not getting their money’s worth out of their college education. They were quick to say that they have also had some excellent experiences with a few professors, but that this was the exception — not the rule. When I asked them how many of their classes were worthwhile and taught well, they estimated that only five of their collective 25 classes were places where they learned and felt their professors cared about their learning.
Below are a few of the instances they shared with me:
I then switched the conversation and asked them what they wanted from their college education. Their thoughts were revealing:
It’s time for a wake-up call for universities. My guess is that research and publications is what’s rewarded at my daughter’s university. In fact, one of my daughter’s professors talked more about her research than actually teaching the “introductory” class. Similarly, while the chemistry department is incredibly successful in their research, a higher number of students are failing the courses. It seems that teaching is not rewarded or valued even though the website touts that amazing teaching occurs at this University. Sadly, that is seemingly fiction and only a marketing ploy to get students to enroll.
It’s high time for universities to focus on teaching and learning so that our students (and us parents) aren’t ripped off even more.