Open Letter to Higher Ed Scholars

By Rhonda McClellan and Joshua Powers

It’s nothing new to say that U.S. higher education is under attack. For decades now, policy makers, the media, and pundits have questioned the value of a college education. The critique has become especially sharp of late, often wrapped with explicit or implicit or else threats: rein in tuition increases; improve student retention and success, and innovate with technology, all with less external resources, or get state and federal regulation akin to No Child Left Behind, cause our country to fall into international irrelevance, and get eaten for lunch by upstart for-profit providers. Sound familiar?

As scholars who study higher education, we lament the shift in perception of postsecondary education as the solution to societal challenges to what is starting to feel like the cause of our perceived ills.  Furthermore, we wonder how this shift could have occurred given the plethora of research that speaks to the extraordinary public and private benefits of what college provides, warranting more, not less, investment.  Don’t these people know that education is priceless?


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