Tag Archives: Higher Education

What is Higher Education? A Degree or Something Else

In public discourse, “higher education” is a term that differs from traditional schooling such as elementary, secondary, K-12 education. In America, higher education is often believed to be above and beyond traditional schooling into the academic domain of colleges and universities. Similar terms such as adult & continuing education, vocational training, and lifelong learning are often mentioned among educators, but most people don’t bother to define their differences. In the UK, other terms such as tertiary, permanent, further, and recurrent education add to its complexity.

The trouble in these discussions has less to do with the multiple terms of higher education, and more with the public sentiment. In other words, the way that multiple societies view higher education reveal some deep-seated opinions about the purposes of education and learning.  Opinions bounded by distinctions between required schooling versus optional education.

This leads to the question of whether the sole purpose of higher education is to acquire a college degree? A degree supposedly considered not required nor essential, but only an advancement or enhancement to a high-school diploma and required equivalents.  Also this degree is a form of credential that not only gets you a job, but also provides more opportunities to better careers.

However, current times challenge this typical mindset.  Examples show that a degree does not always transfer to getting a job, and additional credentials are no longer optional, but are seen as paramount to maintaining a career.

Lagging behind the times is the misrepresentation of the term higher education.  Given current circumstances, higher education is an outdated word alluding to a time when more education was an option of leisure. “Higher” still suggests a “lower,” just as “required schooling” implies “optional learning,” which colleges and universities used to originally represent.

In the next phase of this public discourse, education is no longer higher and learning is no longer optional.  Such a discussion invites a new mindset willing to remove linkages of trading credentials for better employment.  Instead, there is an acceptance that education and learning is a lifelong public pursuit where talents are discovered, ideas are supported, and vocations are created.


No Adult Left Overlooked: Reforming Continuing Learning Too

Given the current debate for education reform such as fixing No Child Left Behind; promoting Race to the Top; and encouraging a  ’21st Century curricula’ , there still is a gap, a remaining empty space, incompletely filled by creating jobs or training  skills.

It relates to adults who must continue to learn regardless of high-school diploma or college degree. It involves educating for life and supporting continual learning for all people.

Some parts missing in the discussion:  

1) Lifelong learning accounts (similar to 401K, but for continuing education);

 2) More employer or independent contractor tuition reimbursement programs;

3) Paid educational leave, especially for near retirees to pursue formal education;

 4) Tuition reduction options and student loan forgiveness for recent college alumni;

5) Further allowing lifetime experiences to transfer as credit and acceptance within colleges and professions. 

The belief that ‘children are our future‘ is very true, but it is equally true that the future will depend upon how, and what, our adults’  learn today.

Student-Athlete or Semi-Pro: Care to know the difference?

One of the joys in sports are the college games: Basketball, football, baseball, even track and others are examples of young adults, in their twenties, dazzling audiences in the bleachers, at home, or on car-stereo. 

As they entertain, do we ever think about whether one has a mid-term tomorrow, a paper to finish, or chapters to read before next lecture; become a politician, philosopher or doctor;  Do we even care to know? I mean, no one turns on the tv to see our up-and-coming college star got a B in Art Appreciation, C in Physics, and an A in Consumer Economics.  What we care to know is how many points are scored, records broken, or witnessing potential athletic greatness unfolding.

So why do some get uptight when the term ‘student athlete’ is replaced with ‘semi-professional,’ describing the kind of condition some collegians are facing—interning for entering a draft.  

It’s not clear exactly who should be called student athlete or semi-pro. What’s the difference: Money, endorsements, media coverage?  Rules state that these collegians cannot benefit or received those directly anyway.  And why not?

Experiences and lessons-learned also exist outside classrooms, schools, or colleges.  Some have learned perhaps that most sobering and troubling lesson from their fans.  That what they ‘do and show’ mean more to many than what they think and know.

In the ‘Classroom of Experience’

They say that Experience is the best teacher: It gives you the test first, and then, teaches the lessons. Perhaps this was true, but now there’s more at stake.  With rising costs of education, not only does Experience require no paycheck, but in return could offer all the wealth you ever need. Quite a bargain considering we have experiences all the time. 

Just curious though: If you had to show what your ‘experience as teacher’ looks like, what would you come up with?

To the point: The classroom of experience requires no tuition, student fees or loans.  Yet there’s a way to include your ‘lessons learned’ from experience directly into the progress of your education, enrollment, and degree pursuit.

There’s a way to transfer your experiences from work and life into college credit.  It is called PLAs or Prior Learning Assessments where there are things you may have learned outside of the college classroom that will count toward getting an actual degree.

Many colleges and universities for decades have adopted some form of PLAs and improvements in evaluations and crediting continue today.  This topic is fascinating and I’m eager to learn more.  As I do, I will share with you my “experience.”

Score: College Hoops 2010points Education 0

http://www.binarybasketball.com/image/basketball-hoop-wallpaperAs the Final Four is set and the championship is near, CBS Sports with its big ratings are smiling. All the endorsements, commercials, and sponsors surrounding the game; yet it doesn’t compare to the BIGGEST ELEPHANT in the room: Why aren’t college ballplayers, who are the featured stars, being paid directly for their performance?

Let’s be real: College Hoops is big business!  The university is paid, the coaches are paid, the audience and alumni continue to buy tickets—So where is the college athlete in the equation.

Speaking of equations.  The college sports system is still based on a bartering system, where the athlete plays a sport and in turn receive a top-notch education (through a fully paid scholarship during attendance)

The trouble is: Many college athletes from the most popular, successful, and winning universities are not staying long to receive a degree.  Due to the exposure of tv contracts and 24-hour sports coverages, their celebrity and notoriety propel them into professional dollars and salaries after a year. 

So what is the real value of a college education?  What’s the point of maintaining an obviously out-dated bartering exchange, where an education is as disposable as a pair of Converse.

Also, Big Major college coaches are being paid more than nobel prize-winning professors at the same university. This must send out some alarm about collegiate priorities, the value of education and the revenue of sports.  Even in the professional game, the players are less-skilled and developed to truly show a higher level expected from being paid multi-millions.

My final comment is that education has value that should not be traded at a cost.  Sure, college for the rest of the student body may help to secure better jobs, but the college athlete requires a new framework.

My suggestion: College athletes should be  formally paid (as employment) while playing sports. If education is really valued, then the athlete can return to school (tuition free) for a lifetime. In theory, the great college player can leave early to pursue a professional career, but the academic doors remain open even after their years of scholarship eligibility.  Taken a step further, if the player declines to return, there should be a voucher given to be used by a family member, son or daughter, of the player to attend that same college (pending some academic standards) at least the first year.

This way, sports, education, and money can stay in their respective places without hypocritical overlap.  So we can go back to enjoying the games and cherishing the value of a college  education.