Our Underachieving Colleges: What Should Universities Do?
Without any doubt, the debate over what universities should do and how they should achieve their goals is always relevant, as the world is rapidly changing. Although the ideas from Bok, Coleman, and Menard were presented more than a decade ago, many of them stay significant nowadays. For example, it is evident that most students and graduates highly value their undergraduate experience. However, “colleges and universities, for all the benefits they bring, accomplish far less for their students than they should.” People often pay too much attention to the numerous benefits and pleasures of student life and underestimate the importance of education they obtain. It is an enormous obstacle for objectively estimating the role of higher education institutions, whose primary goal is to give knowledge.
On the other hand, some of the ideas of Bok, Coleman, and Menard are irrelevant and seem distant in 2020. For instance, Menard argued that education might be better if academics thought of their business differently, “since one of the lessons of historical inquiry is that there is no one way that things must be.” However, it seems that most academics, as well as students, have realized this statement. They no longer restrict themselves from thinking deeply and broadly, as it is crucial to step out of their comfort zone in the modern world to succeed. Individuals who reject it fail to meet their goals and earn respect. Hence, the number of academics, who resist institutional reforms, is declining.
Besides, each student has numerous ideas about recommendations regarding improving the quality of undergraduate education. Undoubtedly, the advice to shift the focus towards interdisciplinary knowledge is worth consideration. Unfortunately, many academics and students would not agree with it, as it is challenging to implement, and there are unreasonable doubts regarding the usefulness of interdisciplinary knowledge. Nevertheless, the main goal of higher education institutions is to give unique knowledge and experience, which cannot be acquired by reading a book or watching tutorials on YouTube.