Thursday, March 10, 2011

Outline of my talk at U.C. Berkeley: "America's Most Overrated Product: Higher Education"

Here are my notes for the talk I gave at Berkeley yesterday, "America's Most Overrated Product: Higher Education, how to reinvent it and create a great career for yourself in the process."

They videorecorded it and said they'll email it to me in a week, at which point, I'll upload it so you can watch it.

Here are the not-fully-self-explanatory notes I used for the presentation:

Guido Sarducci:
Five Minute University. In five minutes you learn what the average college graduate remembers five years after he or she is out of school. It may be a joke but reflects a real problem.

In fact, value added is terrible. See Spellings Report or my Chronicle of Higher Education article, "America's Most Overrated Product: Higher Education."

The more prestigious the worse the value-added! And when you think about it, it's not surprising: how faculty is trained, hired, promoted. Class size. Political bias--Robert Reich's big public lie. Schumpeter: "The first thing a man will do for his ideals is lie." The biggest problem: profs value their arcana over their secular-sacred obligation to fairly and carefully educate students, at a prestigious college, the best and brightest, with greatest potential to abet society.

The true graduation rates.

The true fully-employed rates.

And today, with true 4- and certainly 5 year sticker price over $100K at Berkeley, $200K at designer-label privates.

If a physician didn't disclose that an expensive and time consuming treatment had poor prospects for success, he'd be sued. Yet colleges not only don't get sued, they're rewarded with more taxpayer and tuition money.

What universities really care about: research and prestige. It was so clear to me as student, faculty, consultant to prezes. "Students are a necessary evil." Evidence:

If universities cared about students it would provide:

Maximally useful content not arcana

Ideologically diverse faculty not one where all worthy ideas are deemed to reside left of center.

A separate track of faculty based on ability to be a highly effective if not transformative undergraduate instructor. (It's a self-serving canard that good researchers make the best undergraduate instructors.)

Superprofs (Immersive, interactive courses team-taught online by dream teams of the nation's most transformational instructors drawn from in and outside academe.

A teaching/mentoring bootcamp which all teaching faculty must successfully complete.

Mentoring by faculty and administrators, not mere academic advising by minimally trained peer advisors.

An average class size of 15, paid for by the money saved from much streamlined administrations and modest landscaping and not spending fortunes on unnecessary buildings like the country-club-like RSF. The university wastes fortunes: e.g., $3 million on Bain instead of using its highly paid people in all UC, including Systemwide Budget Office plus Haas faculty. $300,000 for Jennifer Granholm and hubby to teach 2 classes?

Private apartments, not 2-3-to-a-room dorms: the ACLU would sue if they housed welfare recipients that way.

Prominently post a College Report Card: disaggregated graduation rate, price of the degree, value-added in reading, writing, critical thinking, quantitative reasoning, oral communication, leadership), % professionally employed within six months of graduation, the accreditation report, student satisfaction survey results. Instead colleges obfuscate with Madison-Avenue-like brochures and websites.

Why the govt or media doesn't demand college's to be accountable as they do with drugs, tires, even food labels. Reasons: colleges make students more liberal, and the higher ed lobby is very powerful. That's why, for example, student loans are the only loan not dischargeable through bankruptcy.

Making the most of Berkeley

One-on-one--e.g., independent studies. Ask respected people for advice.

Carefully select your instructors. Better a good prof in a not seemingly-interesting subject than vice-versa.

Prioritize learning what you care about, even if your grades suffer.

Ask questions.

Find true ideological diversity

Seek leadership opportunities--join or start a club, project

Make the most of your career center.


Join ASUC Senate. Fight for a College Report Card, more ideologically diverse speakers.

Become a student member of the Academic Senate

Get a work-study job in the president's office.

Refuse to donate to dear old Cal--explain why.

Get U.S. News's rankings to add value-added to its ranking criteria.

Invite the media to your picketing U.C's development office. Urge people to not donate to Cal until it posts a full and honest College Report Card.

Careers aimed at reinventing higher education

Become a higher education reporter.

Work for USOE, WASC, Consumers Union, PIRG, etc. entities that could hold colleges more accountable.

Create a true consumer advocate website for college shoppers.

Start Utopia U.

1 comment:

Moravecglobal said...

America's most expensive campus chancellor: University of California Berkeley Chancellor Birgeneau US$ 500,000 salary + benefits ?


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