Of Note: Considerable Peril
The Real World of College: What Higher Education Is and What It Can Be by Wendy Fischman and Howard Gardner
MIT Press, March 22, 2022
In Who Gets Into College and Why, Jeffrey Selingo argued that "who gets in is frequently more about the college's agenda than the applicant." Today's college counselors and admissions professionals would likely concur, given the radical shifts in education that took hold during the COVID-19 pandemic. To further this dialogue while not exactly turning down the heat, Wendy Fischman and Dr. Howard Gardner advance The Real World of College: What Higher Education Is and What It Can Be, a close look at the many ways in which, they believe, colleges and universities have lost their way. After five years of research involving ten campuses and more than two thousand interviews with students, faculty, administrators, trustees, alumni, and parents, Fischman and Gardner conclude that American higher education "stands in considerable peril" – peril that predates the pandemic. The cause of this imperiled state of being, they argue, is the overly transactional understanding of the purpose of education that permeates American society and its schools, along with the fact that college students do not always feel a true sense of belonging or connection at their respective schools. Fishman and Gardner recommend that colleges and universities pay more attention to onboarding students not as recipients of knowledge or skills but as participants in communities of learning. Whether this message will resonate with a student population that, along with their parents, actively seeks to know the precise value of things remains to be seen.