5 Things Destroying American Higher Education

The higher education system in the United States is widely heralded as the best in the world. Students from all over the world come to the U.S. to study. In spite of its stellar reputation, looks can be deceiving. Why? Because only 10% of colleges and universities can be thought of as world-class, 40% are average, and the remaining 50% are laughable. This means that at least half of America’s colleges provide their students with a substandard education, which results in questionable student outcomes.

To get our higher education system back on track, we must be transparent about the issues that are destroying it, slowly, but surely. In this article, we will discuss 5 things that are destroying the American education system.

  1. The omnipresence of racism. Although colleges and universities in the U.S. claim to be bastions of civility and fairness, they are not. Students of color routinely complain of being harassed and mistreated because of their race or ethnicity. If the American education system is going to maintain its preeminence, it will have to practice what it preaches when it comes to equity and equality.
  2. Higher education accreditation is broken. For colleges and universities to confer degrees to its graduates, it has to be accredited as a university, and its individual schools, departments, and programs also must maintain accreditation. Therein lies the rub. Accreditation is easy to obtain and maintain, especially if you have the financial capital. The whole process amounts to a dog and pony show. In the end, students end up shortchanged, graduating from accredited colleges and programs without the skills necessary to make it in their chosen field of human endeavor.
  3. Higher education deserts. Too many of our students live in higher education deserts. A higher education desert is “an area of the U.S. where college aspirant citizens must drive (one way) more than sixty minutes (some definitions use the parameter of 25 miles) to attend to a 4-year college or university.” We have to find a way to make college more accessible to students in higher education deserts. One solution is for area colleges to create more blended and completely online programs to serve this student population.
  4. Tuition is still a barrier for many. It seems like every year, colleges and universities are increasing their tuition and fees. However, while the cost of college attendance is rising, salaries are not. Point blank, many students simply cannot afford to attend college. The sad part about the price of attending college is that states could be doing much more to mitigate the issue. Instead, many sit idly by, allowing their higher education institutions to act like Fortune 500 companies as opposed to institutions of higher education. Instead of being concerned about helping students graduate without massive amounts of debt, they keep increasing their tuition and fees to make more money. Thankfully, some forward-thinking states like Oregon, Tennessee, and New York are easing the load, by allowing residents to attend community college for free. This lessens the financial burden shouldered by students, as it pays for the first two years of education. Hopefully, more states will follow suit.
  5. Lack of student outcomes. For me, one of the most important indicators of student success is positive student outcomes. Student outcomes are the skills and information that students should possess after completing a lesson, unit, or an entire course. Theoretically, if a student does not exhibit the expected student outcomes, they should not pass the course. Because of grade inflation, and a lack of high-quality instructors, many students find themselves completing a class without learning much at all. This comes to a head when these students graduate and go out into the workforce, and fail because they do not have the skills that are necessary to succeed in their industry. Now the student is saddled with a worthless degree and an uncertain professional future.

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