Jeffrey Selingo on the Challenges of Higher Education

September 12, 2019 0 By Ronny Jaskolski

[ Silence ]>>– you know, in some ways I see
Dartmouth’s future very bright. Because it obviously occupies kind of
the lead status in higher education. Being not only in the Ivy League,
but obviously being at the top of its game and on so many fronts. And right now, you know, many of the
institutions that I’m talking to, whether I’m talking to faculty or presidents
or trustees there, they are in positions where they’re just worried about
the financial sustainability of their model of their institutions. You know, filling — literally
filling the class every year. I think the issue here is more of filling the
class every year with high-quality students and improving the quality
of the institution both on the student’s side and on the research side. That’s — not that that’s not a major issue
and a major problem, but it’s a lot better to be coming from that position of strength than
it is to be worried about whether you’re going to fill your class every year [silence]. Where I think online education
is going to play a big role in the future is with hybrid education. Where you’re combining the best of
technology with the best of face-to-face. It won’t happen overnight, and it’s not easy
getting there, but we see from several studies, and we see in talking to students that they
actually prefer this mode of education. Where they’re able to kind of mix and match
and toggle between what is delivered online and what is delivered face-to-face [silence]. My advice is that — for
higher education right now — is that most institutions have
been around for hundreds of years. That’s why I don’t think that any
institution, including this one, is going to suddenly disappear in 10 years. I also have been reminded a lot —
especially when I was writing my book — that colleges are like cities in many ways. They evolve over time. And that evolution is sometimes slow. And that we have to remember that
change is not going to come overnight, nor do we want it to come overnight. That incremental change is actually good. And so the advice that I have is to not — you
know, you don’t necessarily have to act quickly. You need to act fast but not
overnight; you can take your time. And secondly that there is not one solution
to all the issues facing higher education. There might be solutions that work for this
institution that don’t work for others. There might be solutions
that work for some students at this institution, but not for others. Really, where I see higher ed going in the
future is much more of a personalized process. And I think technology is going to enable us to personalize education much
more than we ever have before. You know, we know students don’t
all learn in the same style; they also don’t learn at the same speed. And if we could deliver education in a way
that’s of high quality and meets the learner where they are, or where he or she is, I think
that that will enable great change on campuses. [ Silence ]