March 29, 2010
The End of University Prestige?
Higher education in this country is in a state of crisis. Nearly nine out of 10 American high school seniors say they want to go to college. Yet almost half of U.S. college students drop out, outstanding student loan debt exceeds $730 billion, and tuition fees rose 248 percent between 1990 and 2008, more than any other major commodity or service.
As Anya Kamenetz suggests in “DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education,” these problems, and the fact that students and teachers are increasingly venturingbeyond campus walls to gather and share information, spell trouble for the future of the conventional university. In her book, Kamenetz, the author of Generation Debt and a staff writer for Fast Company magazine, argues that a decentralized college experience in which the least effective parts of college life are replaced by technology, social media and self-directed learning can limit dropout rates and reverse the devastating cost spiral.