I just posted a blog on Huffpo “President Obama’s Education Plan — A No-Brainer for Colleges.” That one deals with the ability of colleges to respond with some ease to the president’s concerns because they are set up to do so in terms of research and standards.
What’s important is that we’re having the discussion. When students arrive on university campuses often they are befuddled at best. There’s much to learn and 4 years looks like a long time to them. And yet right away their choices of courses influence whether they will indeed graduate in that time.
Even as a professor, I found the orientation day for one of my college-bound sons to be very informative but so full of information that I wondered if follow-up messages would help my son and I sort out his journey from freshman to graduating senior. It did prove to be less than crystal clear.
For all the talk about “helicopter parents,” and I suppose there are some annoying ones, as a professor I didn’t meet them. And as a parent, by my son’s junior year I was thinking that there is much to be said for checking in regularly when you are investing thousands in your adult child’s education. Why leave it chance? I learned the hard way that keeping a distance so they grow up faster is sometimes a way to find yourself paying more to be sure all credit requirements are met.
That’s why I suggest that colleges provide students, along with their grades, information clearly articulating each semester what they need to do from there on to graduate in 4 years (or more). They should understand how much it will cost to go beyond that and parents, if paying part of the expenses, should be informed. If that means your student signing a paper to allow your involvement, go for it.
There’s much to learn when a child goes off to college. Loan debt can grow exponentially if not paid on time. Colleges need to help students and parents know this and guide the student toward decisions that keep costs down and potential for a good job high.
I welcome metrics that tell us more about colleges when young people are making decisions that affect them long term. It is not difficult for colleges to assess how they’re doing as they assess things all the time, including student performance.
It’s not too much to expect. The colleges that do this sooner rather than later will be rewarded. And so will their students.