I’m Scared About What Might Happen To Higher Education In The USA

I’m Scared About What Might Happen To Higher Education In The USA

“We are going to see another economic downturn next year,” many high profile economists predict. If these high profile economists are correct about their predictions, higher education won’t be the same again after the economic downturn. I’m scared about what will happen to higher education in the United States next year, I must admit.

This is my fear: Another major recession will inevitably result in less demand for employees in organizations and less money to be circulated in the economy overall. Enrollment in colleges and universities is already down. If a recession is looming, as Richard Wolff is claiming, enrollment in colleges and universities will decrease, perhaps drastically to a point of decreasing enrollments in double digits.

I witnessed IUP going from 15 thousand students in 2010 to 11 thousand in 2015. That’s a lot! Less than 10 thousand students are now enrolled in this institution full-time. Four year non-profit colleges dropped 9% in enrollment. These numbers are scary, I must add. I’ve seen what they do to department budgets, faculty salary, and student tuition.

Don’t be fooled by what you may hear — In the current landscape of higher education, students are clients and universities need them in order to survive, period. The moment that the clientele, students in this case, decide to transfer schools or hold on pursuing a college degree… three things eventually happen. First, colleges and universities close their doors. Second, less staff is hired to perform the many tasks that are necessary in the system.  Third, employees experience high levels of stress and anxiety.

It’s tough, very tough…

To make things more complicated, college tuition along with room and board is at an all time high and society is skeptical about the value of a college degree. I don’t know how you feel about this but to me, college prices along with public skepticism about higher education is a recipe to disaster. Eventually, the bubble explodes, you know?

I think we are going to see the beginning of the end of higher education in this country starting in 2021. I doubt that colleges and universities will change the way they operate and will continue to leverage the use of temporary faculty to teach classes in institutions of higher learning all across the United States. Big mistake! Students don’t want to pay for a non-PhD teaching their classes. How do I know this? They tell me this over and over again in my office.

They want a professor who is presently active in their academic lives. They don’t want a scholars, they want a mentor who takes the time to understand and help them.  Students could care less if a professor publishes an academic article or delivers a presentation in a national conference. I don’t recall a student being interested in what a VP of institutional advancement does.

They would rather have a professor speaking with them in the school’s cafeteria and helping them to cope with college life and its stresses than seeing a professor cash a check every month and making extra income selling her books to fans.  Yet, most colleges and universities still premium these activities for promotion and tenure, instead of catering to those who actually pay the bill.

My predicted outcome for such idiotic leadership philosophy is bankruptcy. Much change is required in higher education, I must add. Why? This is why..

Twenty colleges have closed their doors since 2016. The former doesn’t include the number of colleges and universities that merged with other institutions in order to be in business. By thew way, we are going to see a lot more colleges closing their doors in the years to come because of academic vanity and economic pressures, I think.

Let me clarify one thing. The industry of higher education won’t disappear overnight. Of course not. The recession, if it comes, will force our school administrators to re-engineer our educational institutions and layoff faculty and staff. That’s the fear…

The good news — Faculty members who can wear many hats will be in high demand in 2021, as the operating budget of many colleges and universities will be cut, I suspect. Many jobs will be lost or merged, though. In fact, let me make a prediction.

I predict that colleges with less than 1000 students will be the first ones to go under, followed by expensive tier two private universities with small endowments. I suspect that public higher education, as we understand it to be today, has 20 years to go before they go under also, if that. Why? Because no college education, at the undergraduate or graduate level, is worth paying over one hundred thousand dollars for it.

Would you pay $96,439 dollars for a degree in Management or Psychology? Or a $180,000 for an MBA from the MIT? I admit. I wouldn’t. The value just isn’t there, sorry. It’s too expensive…

What this upcoming recession may do is to accelerate the pains that we are going to experience in our industry, perhaps damaging the existing system to a point of no return. I’m seen the industry of higher education coming to an end in this country, as we understand it to be. I’m already getting prepared for the transition but I doubt that many college professors are ready to what is coming, unfortunately.

If the recession de facto comes next year, it will damage the finances of many college professors and school administrators in this country. We are going to see, I guess. I hope I’m wrong. Who knows… I don’t know. That God be with us. We are going to need Him, I think.

 

 

 

 

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How To Build A Class

How To Build A Class

This piece was written by Dr. Mark Zeigler in a keynote speech at the Florida Communication Association. If you want to be in higher education long term, it would be wise to apply his caring advice.

If you want respect, command it, don’t demand it. If you want your students to be trustworthy, then trust them. If you want your students to be interested in the material, then be interesting…

If you want them to work together, then work with them first. If you want them to write well, then teach them how. If you want them to apply theories, then use examples in your teaching…

If you want them to attend class, then give them a reason to be there. If you want them to attend class, then give a reason for them to be there. If you want them to be cynical and rude, then punish them for all transgressions…

If you want them to love learning and enjoy their education, then you enjoy your teaching. If you want them to value research, then include them in your projects and show them how it works…

If you show interest in them, they will be interested in you. If you don’t want them to cheat, then don’t give cheating opportunities. If you want them to make good presentations, be sure you give good lectures…

If you want them to pursue graduate school, tell them they’d be a great graduate student and help them search for schools to apply. If you want good teaching evaluations, be fair, clear, creative, interesting, prepared, approachable, have a sense of humor, and don’t take yourself too seriously…

If you want them to have a perspective, then distinguish between major episodes and minor events. If you want a great academic career, learn how to teach now. Best advice: Grandfather… “I bet they teach you more than you teach them.” Sometimes you just have to get out of the way and let it happen.

Mark Ziegler.

I’m Afraid That The American System Of Higher Education Is Becoming More “Brazilian” By The Day

I’m Afraid That The American System Of Higher Education Is Becoming More “Brazilian” By The Day

I’m afraid that the American system of higher education is becoming more “Brazilian” by the day, with the exception that education in this country costs an arm and a leg. I’m witnessing the demise of a once wonderful educational system that rescued me from a life of much suffering and ignorance due to my lack of intellectual interest and much immaturity back in the day.

Despite our society having all these technologies…

This semester, only 5% of all students in my classes read the course’s book, if that. Some are behaving in such a disrespecting way that makes me wonder why they would choose to spend 80K in a college education and behave like a little kid in kinder garden.  Brazilian kids pursuing a college education don’t read a thing, either. From what I hear, their attitudes in the classroom are as poor as some of our kids in this country.

Colleges and universities often defend them instead of doing what is right and reprimand poor behavior.

I can attest to you that many wealthy Brazilians send their kids to this country in an attempt to make their kids more mature and because colleges and universities made their kids read books as a requirement for completing a college degree. The former did the Brazilian upper class much good, as students in Brazilian universities rarely read anything. The former doesn’t happen much today in the social sciences, I don’t think. What a tragedy.

Let me continue…

A large number of Brazilian students believe that a college education is a requisite for getting a job, nothing else. I’m afraid that a large segment of college students in the United States have similar beliefs, if not exactly the same attitude towards college, as Brazilian students do. Both Brazilian and American students are constantly partying and doing little to get the “A” grade they expect by the end of the semester.

Truth.

The contemporary “business” model adopted by many colleges and universities in this country has destroyed a great educational system, making immature clown type kids have way too much say in how a university is to be run. The biggest error to me is even more disturbing and is perhaps the root cause of this whole mess we call American higher education. Students, to many college administrators, are synonymous with being a customer… and in their minds, the customer is always right because they pay the bill.

The result? They (the immature youth) is somehow dictating how colleges and universities should operate and who the institution should keep or release, based on how well they (professors) adapt to them (students) instead of the obvious opposite.

It’s sad…

Professors these days must strategically communicate with students without making them “mad.” I’ve learned to deal with them and handle these kinds of situations with much caution and care, always getting input from my colleagues on the issue before making a final decision. Many students today are living college as an “adult.” I bet that most if not all of them will live their adult life as a “student,” like in Brazil.

US students are now so similar to Brazilian students in so many respects. This concerns me quite a lot. Take a look at where Brazil ranks in education worldwide. Is this where we are heading next? Towards the bottom?

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I’m afraid that the American system of higher education is becoming more “Brazilian” by the day. I’m not sure if the current model of higher education in this country is sustainable, ladies and gentleman. There is so many good things about Brazil but not its educational system. I’m concerned about the future of this country… very actually.

We Need More Male Latino Communication Scholars In Higher Education

We Need More Male Latino Communication Scholars In Higher Education

Despite all these modern technology gadgets we have in society these days, it seems that access to computers haven’t helped university’s search committees much with finding male latino communication professors to diversify their body of faculty all across the United States. Minority recruitment in higher education is still quite low everywhere especially if we take into account the number of male Latino faculty members we have employed in the whole educational system.

After a quick on-line investigation, where I went on-line and took a frequency count of how many professors of Latino descent there are in six colleges across the state of Tennessee, I came to two conclusions. 

  1. We have only one Latino male working in departments of communications among six institutions in Tennessee — UTK, UTC, Middle Tennessee State, Vanderbilt, Belmont and Lee. It is me, Dr. A! Let me not disappoint you. I am usually the only Latino male communication professor wherever I go. I am used to it… I must add that there is one Latina professor in Tennessee who works in a Communication department but she is a lecturer. The former means that she has a low academic rank.
  2. I’m aware of one latino working in a position of leadership in the field of communication in the whole state.  

In reality, I don’t know exactly the number of Latino males who are communication professors in the state because I haven’t look at all faculty members in every school across the state of Tennessee. Having little to no male professors of Latino descent in colleges and universities in the east coast has been the trend, though.  

The former isn’t an isolated Tennessee problem, I must add. This problem isn’t a new one, either. I have been witnessing this reality for over a decade, now. Easy access to the internet has allowed me to investigate, count and report this problem to the public in informal ways. I’m currently working on a paper to document this issue for the academic world which will be released soon.  

I wonder why we aren’t using more technology to bring attention to this pressing topic  since the next big growth in American higher education is centered around Latino/minority enrollment and retention. 

By the way… Retention of minority students is directly related to the number of faculty role models institutions have. If you got latino students, you must have latino faculty members on staff… males and females. Who will serve as a role model for the Latino students majoring in Communication at California State University in Los Angeles? There are a lot of latino students down there! 

What I know is that Cal State struggles to get male Latino Communication faculty members. How do I know this? One of their Deans took me to the side in a recent academic conference and whispered in my ear, “Luis, I have a big problem. Most of my students are Latinos but the irony is that I cannot recruit male Latino faculty that easily. Let’s chat.” 

Many people think that technology will solve all of our problems yet this elementary issue is far from being solved. Does it take a minority faculty member to bring attention to this important societal issue? Apparently yes. Why aren’t we investing more time and technology to fix these pressing issues in academia, I ask? Perhaps, we should look at the composition of these colleges and universities, along with predictions of upcoming enrollment and expected retention rates, and hire faculty members who are more representative of their student body.

Why are we celebrating VR technologies if we can’t even fix the elementary diversity problems in our society? This I do know… The future belongs to the Lord and only He knows our future and that’s a blessing. Not having minority faculty representation in higher education is both an epidemic and a disservice to our minority students enrolled in the system.

There is Latino male scholar population struggling to have an opportunity to make a difference in higher education. Recruit them! They are out there, remember that. In every field, actually. Seek and you will find them.