Post-campus America? Interesting Article

<p>I would love to hear the thoughts of other parents (and students, too, why not) on this article in the Atlantic Monthly:</p>

<p>Envisioning</a> a Post-Campus America - Megan McArdle - Business - The Atlantic</p>

<p>What the article describes is a higher ed dystopia.
College is the last significant vestige of anything like traditional village life in America. Human beings evolved for millennia to live that kind of life. Abandoning it for the imagined efficiency of "eLearning" is a terrible idea.</p>

<p>College students learn more from hanging out with other colleges students (and to a lesser extent professors) than they do in classrooms. Giving up these formative years on a residential campus for on-line learning is not a substitute, IMHO. I will add that residential colleges have completely priced themselves out of the market for hundreds of thousands, so on-line option may be all that is available for some, unfortunately.</p>

<p>People going that route will be second class citizens. Bad jobs, bad grad schools, bad lives.</p>

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<p>A very large percentage of students commute to the local community college or state university, rather than living on or near campus specifically for the purpose of attending college. Is the latter aspect (as opposed to interaction with other students and instructors in class) essential for college to be formative?</p>

<p>^^ the % of students who eventually graduate is far higher among students who live on campus [ or within walking distance] than it is with students who commute. How much of that higher graduation rate can be attributed to the closer interactions with other students and faculty those students can enjoy vrs which students are able to afford to live on campus because of their higher economic status is harder to tease apart.</p>

<p>^ I'll buy the percentage is higher, but how about the total? Does anybody know?</p>

<p>Also, aside from graduating, what about the number that get what they want/need, whatever that is?</p>

<p>Having taken classes traditionally and on-line, I far prefer the classroom experience. I feel as though I learn more in-person, although I suppose that would be hard to prove.</p>

<p>"A very large percentage of students commute to the local community college or state university, rather than living on or near campus specifically for the purpose of attending college. Is the latter aspect (as opposed to interaction with other students and instructors in class) essential for college to be formative? "</p>

<p>Commuting to college between the age of 18 and 22 is still studying during the formative years (as is on-line classes), but the question is . . . what is forming? The experience is substantively different. One learns to read and navigate emmotions and other social variables from living with a lot of people with competing ideas in the dorm. It is just different when you have to learn to thrive in the dorm and classroom 24/7 as opposed to sitting in front of a computer screen or alone in a library. Commuting to class each day is a lot better than on-line (IMHO), but not as rich as living in the dorm with classmates for four years.</p>

<p>The article resonated with me because I have been having this conversation with my own kids and husband lately. We live about an hours' drive away from a major research university and it seems increasingly common for kids in our area to live at home throughout college and attend that institution -- In short, it's hard to justify spending all the extra money just for your child to live away from in order for them to have some sort of illusive "formative experience." </p>

<p>In addition, if it's pretty well accepted that everyone will at some point during their life have to retrain anyway, it's not unreasonable to ask whether at some point that cachet of where you spent your undergraduate years isn't going to become less important. (Many employers will want someone with a NEW degree with a specific set of skills, regardless of where they were acquired from.)</p>

<p>I find myself thinking about it because my dad grew up in a little one-horse town in the middle of the mountains where you HAD to go away to college, because the closest one was five hours away. These days, that is much less often the case. I just find myself wondering if at some point, the notion of going "away" to college will begin to seem like something quaint that the previous generation did.</p>

<p>So many thoughts. Like everthing, pros and cons.</p>

<p>I lived home and commuted --- cost factors --- my college experience was lacking but I did have multiple job offers lined up when many of my classmates did not. I did what I needed to do. I worked, paid my own way, handled my own problems. I am glad that I wasn't isolated at home with an online class.</p>

<p>Some kids need to go away just to get away from their parents as I see a lot of kids who can't seem to manage themselves --- mom or dad or both do everything for them. Unfortunately, with cell phones, it seems as though the kids really don't get away.</p>

<p>Online classes create the same situation that social networking sites do --- lack of real human interaction and socialization. Creates a situation where kids don't need to make eye contact, speak clearly, care about the classmate next to them. Work in groups, etc.</p>

<p>Online classes are okay in a limited capacity. As a hiring manager, I want someone who had to deal with classmates, teachers, etc.</p>

<p>I took two classes online through a my local community college recently. They were both complete jokes and excuses for real learning. Have people who advocate these classes actually attended one before?</p>

<p>Of those that go to college, the vast majority of kids in my community commute to the local CC.</p>

<p>Going away to school, especially to a private school (as opposed to a CSU, or. UC, where you will not likely be living on campus), is somewhat exceptional.</p>

<p>At some point down the road I can see how people will be isolating themselves further and further. </p>

<p>I personally don't have much respect for the online learning. I believe a lot is learned through open discussions, seeing people in person etc. However, look at the boom in homeschooling. I know many, many parents who are talking about homeschooling college - meaning online at the kitchen table for at least the first two years.</p>

<p>If you put that together with the rise in telecommuting, we could be moving to a new way of life - people not needing to live around other people, learning, living and working from their homes. I don't know how people would meet each other, they'd have to seek it out, but I can see us getting to the point where a huge segment of the population wouldn't interact with people face to face on a daily basis.</p>

<p>Hopefully that doesn't come to be, it's not for me, but I could see it being the wave of the future.</p>

<p>Some of these trends may not be good for social cohesiveness. Some (not all) people home school because they do not want to have their kids "contaminated" with ideas that differ from their religious or political beliefs. Many people get their news from outlets that serve to reinforce pre-existing political beliefs (e.g. Fox for the right, MSNBC for the left), which may be increasing the political polarization that we are seeing.</p>

<p>^ MSNBC is slightly left of center. Free Speech TV is left.</p>

<p>Unfortunately, residential colleges are pricing themselves out of the market, except for the very wealthy and those whom the colleges select for substantial financial aid. It is just not an option for a lot of America. The ability to commute is the only reasonable alternative. An on-line class or two is not going to cause great diminishment in the college experience, but if the primary method of learning is on-line . . . whatever degree you get is not the same. You may be able to develope all the social skills and group dynamic navigational skills elsewhere. You may even be able to make "friends for life" who prove to be future business partners, spouses, references, clients, etc. - somewhere else. Just don't fool yourself into thinking that employers won't know the difference.</p>

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<p>Of course not. They are top school educated who see this as a way to bring down the barriers to higher ed for the "poor" and underserved. In reality everybody knows they are not very good and the profs send their kids to the best colleges they can. Watch what they DO--not what they say.</p>

<p>"Watch what they DO--not what they say. "</p>

<ul>
<li>Exactly.</li>
</ul>

<p>I'm a college professor in a grad program and I actually have a situation this semester where I have an online section where the students are considerably better than the oncampus students. They do more reading, they are more thoughtful, they bring more to the discussions and they go out and read MORE when they have a question that arises from the readings that is not covered in the readings. I think it may be that I teach in a grad program and most of these guys are working professionals -- the online students take the experience really seriously and are extremely engaged. I don't think that online is always a 'second best' way to learn -- and for the record, my kids HAVE and WILL take online classes in addition to those on campus. </p>

<p>In our local area, some of the BEST high school teachers teach an online version of their course -- which is taken mostly by high-achievers who want to take courses early (9th grade science in 8th grade), who are overloaded with other courses or outside responsibilities (appearing on Broadway, etc.) And honestly, my son has probably had MORE long phone conversations with the online professor than he ever would have had one on one with the prof in a realtime course with 30-35 kids. However, I do wonder what the letters of recommendation will be like . . ("Never having actually met this child, I can nonetheless comment on his work . . ")</p>