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"The Real World of College: What Higher Education Is and What It Can Be"

Aired on Thursday, April 7th.
Aired on Thursday, April 7th.

"[The authors] distill decades of experience into this bracing, often surprising book about what college is, and is for. With rigor and wisdom, they burn away myths and challenge every American to recommit to truly higher learning." -- Eric Liu, CEO of Citizen University

On this edition of ST, we talk about how going to college has so dramatically changed in America over the past several years -- the experience of college itself, as well as the expectations people have about college before they even arrive. Our guest is Wendy Fischman; she and Howard Gardner are the co-authors of a book from MIT Press titled "The Real World of College: What Higher Education Is and What It Can Be." The book draws upon myriad interviews and a vast amount of research in order to show why higher education in the United States has lost its way, and how universities and colleges can focus -- and, in fact, re-focus -- on their core mission. Indeed, despite what certain media outlets might indicate, most college students today are not preoccupied with political correctness, free speech, or even the cost of college. They're most concerned about their GPA and their resumes; they basically see jobs and earning potential as more important than learning. There's also, moreover, a clear and present mental-health crisis unfolding on college campuses nationwide, given the pandemic.... Per Library Journal: "In this fascinating book, Gardner and Fischman (both, Harvard Graduate School of Education) share the quantitative and qualitative results of a study conducted from 2013 to 2018, intended to ascertain how participants viewed higher education; they conclude that it has 'lost its way and stands in considerable peril.' The authors found that students are struggling with mental health and feelings of belonging and alienation -- from their fellow students, from their scholarly work, and from their institutions. The study focused on 10 colleges and relied on surveys and interviews with students, faculty, staff, administrators, trustees, young alumni, and parents.... [The book's] epilogue includes a thought-provoking dialogue between the authors as they reflect on their own educational journeys."

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