This week, students arrive on campus at Ball State and at colleges and universities around the nation. Their return is a welcomed tonic for this professor’s soul, but new students arrive in the midst of a grand debate about the future of higher education.
On the face of it, higher education today is undergoing a metamorphosis. Cost-saving measures such as online learning and the ubiquity of technology might seem to make today’s undergraduate experience vastly different from its forbears. That is a mirage. The most essential elements of an education are unchanged. For that we should be most thankful.
A typical college student will take 40 courses in four years. Two-thirds of these courses are not directly related to their major, but are the building blocks of a well-rounded education. They provide the skills for real higher learning and a foundation for a civil society. Some schools do better than others at rendering this experience effectively, but all try to do it well. The remaining dozen or so courses are dedicated to a particular major, but more than half are further building blocks to very specialized learning.