Myths About Attending College: Part III

In Part I and Part II of this series, we looked at the first six of nine myths about private colleges debunked by the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU). Let’s finish now with the last three, after which I will say a few words about how these myths are harming prospective students, their parents, and higher education itself. Myth 7:...
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Myths About Attending College: Part I

College costs are out of control! Middle-class students will be financially ruined by going to college! Only the wealthy can afford a good liberal education! The hype about college costs has generated many myths about higher education, and has driven them deeply into the collective consciousness—where they are wreaking havoc with parents and students trying to make difficult decisions about...
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Season’s Greetings

Every semester the Freshman Chorus at St. John’s (in which ALL freshmen take part) gives a concert for the community. As a reminder of the beauty and wonder of the holiday season, please enjoy a few minutes of musical refreshment. Happy holidays, and best wishes for the New Year!...
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Inspiration

The year is once again coming to a close. We take time at the holidays to leave work behind and reconnect with family and friends. Let us try to remember to carve out a little time for quiet—to silently stare at a crackling fire, to sip a warm drink while watching children and pets play in the glistening snow, to gaze...
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Why We Are Looking at the “Value” of College All Wrong

(This article first appeared here in Valerie Strauss’s education column for the Washington Post on November 1, and was discussed further in Danielle Douglas-Gabriel’s “Why a college degree shouldn’t be a commodity” on November 20.) As college admission deadlines loom, new lists and rankings proliferate along with reports questioning the “value” of a college education. The obsession with quantification is rooted in a habit of applying...
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How Statistics Turns Best into Worst

On one of its several different college-ranking lists, Washington Monthly recently designated Shimer College, a small great books college in Chicago, the worst college in America. Jon Ronson, in the US edition of The Guardian, wondered what such a terrible school would look like:  So what’s it like, this worst college? What criteria put it there? The compiler, Ben Miller, a former senior policy advisor in...
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What Competency-based Learning Cannot Do: Part II

In Part I, I considered the reasons why competency-based education is incompatible with liberal learning. Now I want to discuss why it hinders students after graduation, and deprives the world of extraordinary individuals. Liberal arts colleges have always tried to encourage students to develop not only the intellectual virtues, but also the practical, ethical, and—yes, it is still true to say it—moral...
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What Competency-based Education Cannot Do: Part I

Competency-based education is a popular trend in higher education circles. It also seems to be a trend that could do great damage to liberal learning. What is competency-based education? It has two key elements. First, any course of study must be accompanied by a “competency framework”—a detailed statement of the knowledge and skills expected of students who complete the course. Second,...
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