College is Not a Commodity



Fantastic article in the Washington Post by Hunter Rawlings, president of the Association of American Universities and a former president of Cornell University and the University of Iowa. When we talk about the value of college, it’s easy to compare schools based on metrics (graduation rates, student earnings, default rates, etc.) and forget that it’s the effort from individual students that makes the difference. Excerpt:

Unlike a car, college requires the “buyer” to do most of the work to obtain its value. The value of a degree depends more on the student’s input than on the college’s curriculum. I know this because I have seen excellent students get great educations at average colleges, and unmotivated students get poor educations at excellent colleges. And I have taught classes which my students made great through their efforts, and classes which my students made average or worse through their lack of effort. Though I would like to think I made a real contribution to student learning, my role was not the sole or even determining factor in the value of those courses to my students.

Read the whole thing–the ending is particularly good.

Student Turns Down Every Ivy League School for U of Alabama

Ronald NelsonRonnie Nelson (left) turned down all eight Ivy League universities to attend the University of Alabama this fall. Nelson also declined offers from Stanford, Johns Hopkins, New York University, Vanderbilt, and Washington University in St. Louis.

Why? Alabama offered him a full-ride scholarship and accepted him into their Honors Program. The Ivy’s don’t offer merit scholarships, nor do several other prestigious universities, such as Stanford.

What about need-based aid? The Ivy’s offer to meet “100 percent of a student’s demonstrated financial need,” but they take a comprehensive look at a student’s family’s assets, including parents’ home equity, number of dependents, and number of dependents in college.

Continue Reading…

Nominals to Nones: 3 Key Takeaways From Pew’s Religious Landscape Survey

Ed Stetzer offers an insightful break down of the latest Pew Religious Landscape Report (summarized here). The short version is this: Nominal Christianity is on the decline (with the majority of those raised in Mainline denominations defecting to an “unaffiliated” status), but within the larger category of “Christian,” there is a shift towards evangelical faith.

Here are a few nuggets:

What’s the Point of a Professor?

Mark Bauerlein is a professor at Emory University and the author of an outstanding book entitled The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future (Or, Don’t Trust Anyone Under 30 (see commentary here). In a recent NYT article, Bauerlein laments wants happened to the role of the professor when students are more instead in a credential than an education (and more anxious about grading than eager for learning):

When college is more about career than ideas, when paycheck matters more than wisdom, the role of professors changes. We may be 50-year-olds at the front of the room with decades of reading, writing, travel, archives, or labs under our belts, with 80 courses taught, but students don’t lie in bed mulling over what we said. They have no urge to become disciples.

Sadly, professors pressed for research time don’t want them, either. As a result, most undergraduates never know that stage of development when a learned mind enthralled them and they progressed toward a fuller identity through admiration of and struggle with a role model.

Read the whole thing. Dr. Bauerlein was kind enough to endorse my latest book, Preparing Your Teens for College.

Correcting Six Mistakes from the Same-Sex Marriage Oral Arguments Last Week

Did you miss the two and a half hours of oral arguments on same-sex marriage at the Supreme Court last week? James Phillips, visiting assistant professor of law at Brigham Young University, does a great job correcting six mistakes that were made (in some cases by the Supreme Court Justices themselves).

Error Number One: Massachusetts Marriage Rates Have Stayed the Same

Error Number Two: Because Some Men Leave Their Wives and Children, Marriage Does Not Help Keep Fathers Around

Error Number Three: The Purpose of States’ Recognizing and Regulating Marriage is to Bestow Dignity on Couples

Error Number Four: The Only Harm to Legalizing Same-Sex Marriage Is Making Marriage More Adult-Centered

Error Number Five: There Is a Parallel between Brown/Loving andLawrence/Obergefell

Error Number Six: Age Restrictions on Marriage Are Equivalent to the Definitional Element of One Man and One Woman

Phillips piece is clear, compelling, and highly accessible (no legal mumbo-jumbo). Give it a read.

How Old is the Universe?

R.C. Sproul:


To hear answers from the other speakers (and a great mix of views), see the 42:09-75:40 portion of this video.

Parents Saving 25% Less for College

According to a new report from Sallie Mae, the student lender, there’s been a 25 percent year-over-year decline in the amount of money parents are setting aside for future college expenses ($10,040 from $13,408). And 60 percent of parents lack confidence that they’ll be able to pay for the future price of college.

HT: Inside Higher Ed

The Importance of Our Early Years

J.C. Ryle:

Youth is the seed-time of full age, the molding season in the little space of human life, the turning-point in the history of man’s mind.

By the shoot we judge of the tree, by the blossoms we judge of the fruit, by the spring we judge of the harvest, by the morning we judge of the day, and by the character of the young man, we may generally judge what he will be when he grows up.

-J.C. Ryle, Thoughts for Young Men (available for $0.99 on Kindle)

Is Morality about Interference or Direction?

C.S. Lewis:

“There is a story about a schoolboy who was asked what he thought God was like. He replied that, as far as he could make out, God was ‘the sort of person who is always snooping around to see if anyone is enjoying himself and then trying to stop it’. And I am afraid that is the sort of idea that the word Morality raises in a good many people’s minds: something that interferes, something that stops you having a good time. In reality, moral rules are directions for running the human machine.”

From Mere Christianity

Continue Reading…

Designing the New American University

This new book from Michael M. Crow and William B. Dabars looks fascinating. Crow has served as the president of Arizona State University (ASU) since 2002. He was formerly executive vice provost at Columbia University and a professor of science and technology policy (a field I almost pursued after completing my bachelor’s degree). Dabars is a senior research fellow in the Office of the President and a research professor in the School of Historical, Philosophical, and Religious Studies at ASU.

Crow is widely regarded as one of the pioneering leaders in higher education. He speaks at workshops across the country on topics ranging from education reform, college access, and college affordability. Here’s the book’s trailer: Continue Reading…

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