All posts by Jeff Selingo

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Reimagining the Undergraduate Experience: 4 Provocative Ideas

How can we reimagine the undergraduate college experience in the future?

That was the question at the heart of my column last week on the overworked bachelor’s degree, which generated plenty of discussion, agreement, and pushback in the comments. It was also a question at the center of a yearlong exercise at Stanford University’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design, also known as the d.school.

The exercise was the first time that the school turned its renowned “design thinking” process on itself….

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Higher Education’s Olive Garden Problem

Tuition resets—essentially, slashing the sticker price of tuition to the discounted price most students pay anyway—have become a popular public-relations stunt recently for a few colleges that are trying to reframe the conversation about the rising cost of higher ed and, most important, to help them fill their classroom seats and dorms.

While tuition resets might give those struggling institutions a one-year bump in enrollment, there is only so much they and hundreds of other high-priced, middle…

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MOOCs Move Beyond the Perfect Media Narrative

The media love a good story, a narrative with characters, tension, and conflict. Higher ed rarely provides such narratives, unless they involve students overcoming the odds, or protests over tuition and student debt.

For the past two years, the subject of Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs, has delivered a compelling narrative about the future of higher ed, at a time when many colleges were struggling to maintain enrollments and stabilize their finances.

MOOCs reimagined the online course fro…

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What the Open-Data Movement Means for the Future of Colleges

During the partial shutdown of the federal government, which ended Wednesday night after 16 days, it was the barricades closing national parks and monuments that received a disproportionate share of media attention related to the budget standoff.

Few seemed to care that useful online databases of statistics about higher education, such as the College Navigator and the College Scorecard, went dark (except a handful of reporters and perhaps those who didn’t want to take time off from the college…

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President Sees an Obamacare Solution to Higher Ed’s Problems

Higher ed, welcome to Obamacare.

Frustrated by how his policies of the past four years haven’t stalled rising college-tuition prices or moved the needle on the number of students, particularly low-income students, graduating from college, President Obama took on the higher-ed establishment on Thursday, declaring bluntly that the federal government cannot just keep chasing college prices with federal aid but not getting better results.

It’s the same problem Obama confronted with health care in …

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The Whistle-Stop Education

traInsMost American college students haven’t completed a cross-country road trip, let alone a transcontinental train trek. Such journeys give us not only a greater appreciation for the vast nation we tend to fly over, but also the time to reflect on what we see and experience away from the frenzy of daily life.

Last week, two dozen young entrepreneurs did just that, crossing the United States on a train for 10 days, to discover the country and themselves. Aboard the Millennial Trains Project, each of …

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Fly the Friendly Skies of United Universities

Colleges have often been compared to airlines in how they price their product because of the discounts higher-education institutions offer on tuition through merit aid. Passengers on an airplane and students in a classroom pay vastly different prices for the same journey, and most people don’t talk about what they paid with their seatmates or classmates.

It’s not a joy to fly these days, so colleges probably don’t want to take too many cues from the airline industry. But one strategy the air…

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Rethinking the Bachelor’s Degree to Bolster the Humanities

The classic liberal-arts major on college campuses has been in a state of crisis for several decades now.

The number of bachelor’s degrees awarded in traditional arts-and-sciences fields (English, mathematics, biology) peaked in the late 1960s, when about half of all degrees awarded were in those disciplines. Today, such majors account for about a quarter of degrees, as students have fled to practical degrees in vocational fields, such as business and communications or, more recently, sports man…

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Graduation Rates: Flawed as a Measure of Colleges, but Still Useful

It’s commencement season on college campuses, the time when graduating students see their years of effort culminate in a victory: getting the degree. That road to commencement was longer for some students than for others, though, and eventually those varying journeys will be reflected in the institution’s graduation rate.

The value of that number has been debated almost from the day it was first calculated in the mid-1990s. The flaws of the official government rate are well known: It counts only…

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Colleges Face a Reality Check From Powerful New Tools in Applicants’ Hands

Twice in the last week and a half I have been seated next to a recent college dropout on an airplane flight.

One left Ohio University after a semester last fall, and the other dropped out of a performing-arts college in Los Angeles after two years. Both had accumulated debt. One of the former students was about to start work on a cruise ship, and the other hoped to perform on a cruise ship. Both had the same goal: to earn enough money to go back to college eventually.

Neither of the students qui…