These are tough times for higher education. Like many schools we are starting to see our numbers of new students walking through our door drop. Not only is there much more competition for students as we all participate in the zero sum game of building more amenities, but price point is really beginning to become the determining factor as students make choices. Tough times indeed. Things need to change. Most folks know this, and even our faculty know this, but when the rubber hits the road, change is not easy.
I just spent the last couple of weeks in meetings talking about how we can change our core courses to be both more reflective of the times and attractive to new students. The discussions were good, lively and very inventive. I was both encouraged and surprised by some of the ideas coming out of meeting and discussions. There were talks of “pathways” and “quests” and student driven outcomes. Innovation seemed to flow and faculty seemed engaged in trying to come up with a new core.
But just as quickly as the ideas seemed to flow when it came down to the brass tacks of how are we going to do this, which classes will stay, which will go and so forth, the tide quickly washed in. Change is tough, in lots of places it is tough and when it comes down to “me” making the change, then it gets even tougher. I really can’t blame the faculty, they have all spent many years and even decades in their respective disciplines. It is what they know and love. The thought of giving way to a greater good is very hard when it comes down to this change affecting “me”.
Something has to change. We have to move forward as the status quo of years past will just not take us where we want go and the students are speaking to us loud and clear with their pocketbooks and feet. Yup, these are tough times in higher education. I know the power to change is there, I know the passion is there, I now know the amazing ideas are there, what I don’t know is actually how to make that change and get us there.