A crash course in higher education

imageFun fact: I’m a little obsessed with education policy. And in my first eight days at the Chronicle of Higher Education, I’ve had the pleasure of reading, listening, learning, and writing about colleges and universities for eight hours a day. (Post-grad life ain’t bad.)

For those who are curious as to what I’m actually doing in my nascent journalism career or who ever wanted to know the slightest thing about the 2015 college and university landscape, I’ve compiled a higher education crash course of what I’ve gathered so far while working at the Chronicle.

For-profit schools: Basically the plague. Stay away.

Historically black colleges and universities: Wonderful people, wonderful purpose. But on the struggle bus.

Most public universities in Wisconsin, Illinois, Connecticut, Louisiana, Arizona, North Carolina, and about a dozen other states: On an even bigger struggle bus.

Small private colleges: They could use a hug. And some donors.

Elite private colleges (aka Harvard): Do really important stuff but also spend plenty of time kicking back, sipping martinis, and rolling in their dough.

Evangelical religious colleges: You’re welcome there if you abide by the following — creation > evolution; gay student ≠ straight student; gay marriage = destroying America.

State government support for higher education: LOL nope.

Free community college: It’s not that simple.

Public university/college presidents and chancellors: Professional cheerleaders in state legislatures and in meetings of politically appointed boards. (Bless their souls.)

Private university/college presidents and chancellors: Professional fundraisers. What UNC’s Carol Folt wishes like hell she could return to.

Tenured faculty: Academic freedom fighters. Write books, cure cancer, solve pressing political questions, teach multiple classes, serve on committees, have families, and do public service — but according to some critics, they’re not doing enough.

Non-tenured faculty: More than half of all professors today. You should buy them a drink.

Students: Alternately the intelligent and innovative leaders of tomorrow and lazy/irritating bums who don’t know how to write a complete sentence or how to get off their phones for an entire class period. Also commonly known as “customers.”

Student-athletes: Often known for winning national championships and starting scandals, sometimes simultaneously.

Student loans: Thanks for the degree, how will I ever repay you?

Graduate education: Prepare to be poor.

Career in academia: Don’t do it.

Online education: Stop trying to make “fetch” happen. It’s not going to happen.

Massive open online courses (MOOCs): Like, so 2012.

SAT: Like, so 20th century.

Affirmative consent: There’s now an app for that?

Affirmative action: SCOTUS, just hurry up and decide whether it’s constitutional.

Achievement gap: Bigger than ever.


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