At this point, I shouldn’t be surprised that good things happen when I call on my Twitter hive mind. I asked my followers what one thing they think parents of college students need to know about higher ed, as well as what parents can do to help improve things.
I plan to use some of these comments in an upcoming blog post for PBS NewsHour’s Making Sense series, as well as an essay for an edited collection. Both pieces will address what parents should know about the schools they’re paying–likely with not a little debt–for their children to attend. Think your tuition checks are paying your children’s professors, parents? Think again.
Selections from the hive mind:
Fellow troublemaker Gordon Haber: Parents must insist their kids graduate w/out debt, even if that means a less fancy degree. Parents should lock their kids in the basement rather than let them attend for-profit colleges.
Amy Lynch-Biniek: Ask about labor conditions; insist that working conditions = learning conditions.
Nyasha Junior: It is not a job guarantee.
Jeana Jorgensen agrees (and so do I): Double-plus like. Also, parents should know how many classes are taught by adjuncts/impermanent staff.
Jeana and Emily Schmidt are on the same page, apparently (I’m there, too): Ask about how many adjuncts teach at their kids’ colleges/universities, adjunct compensation, & adjunct access to library & office space.
These are of course wonderful, but there’s more to be said. Imagine you’re in a room with all the parents at a particular school. What would you tell them? What do they have every right to know about the school, students, faculty, and financial inequalities? (Better yet: a few of us troublemakers visit campuses around the country: we’ll call it The Tour Of Truth, or some such clever name.)
Think of something else you’d like to make sure college parents know about higher ed? Tweet it to me (and use #FixHigherEd) or leave it below. I’ll use as many as possible in the NewsHour and essay collection pieces (unless you don’t want yours to leave this blog).
We need to get parents’ attention if we have any hope of making real change in higher ed. Once we get their attention, what we say is up to us.