Blog: The Educated Reporter

The Reading List: Fixing College, Attracting Students to STEM

Jeff Selingo,  editorial director for the Chronicle of Higher Education, recently wrote a provocative piece for the New York Times entitled “Fixing College.” Selingo makes the case that 1999-2009 is the “lost decade” for the nation’s colleges and universities, representing squandered resources and misdirected ambitions.

To reverse those trends, higher education needs to reduce costs, take advantage of classroom technology, and refocus priorities on high-quality academic program, Selingo says.

What do you think about Selingo’s argument that higher education has lost sight of its primary purpose? Would you support a hybrid model that combines online instruction with the traditional bricks-and-mortar classroom experiences? (The letters to the editor generated by Selingo’s perspective are also worth a read.)

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I’ve been thinking (and writing) quite a bit lately about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education. Over at Slate, readers submitted their top ideas for making the programs more appealing and useful to students, and there are certainly some smart perspectives worth consideration.
 
One reader wrote that the problem isn’t a shortage of interested students, it’s a shortage of science jobs. Another made the case for public science projects — similar to the public art installations — in order to build support and understanding among the wider population that might not otherwise understand the importance of the work. 
 
I had to laugh when I read one suggestion that creating “cool engineer” characters for television programs would attract younger students to the field. It reminded me of how some of my classmates would grill our science teacher the morning after a particularly unbelievable episode of “McGyver.” It turned out (at least according to our beloved Mr. McCarthy) that a chocolate bar could stop a radioactive leak. 


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