Most colleges and universities have a mission statement or motto that in- directly relays the message to students that as an institution of higher learning that the interests of the students come first, and that they are in the business of producing quality students. While these statements may be true, in today’s society the complexities and challenges of securing an education while ensuring that students are mastering course content and at the same time obtaining and retaining qualified instructors, administrative staff and other faculty members, are a few critical issues facing many colleges and universities. The old cliché that everyone should go to college or that anybody could acquire a college education, has proven to be an arduous sell. Colleges and universities struggle with students who have complex problems such as a lack of basic skills, financial hardship, and a lack of discipline and college readiness.
The evidence of this is in the high number of students who enroll in remedial courses. According to Aaron Short in the New York Post Metro Section (2015). He points out how high school graduates, “often aren’t ready for college”, and according to data, “the rising number of students needing remedial help… an astonishing 78.3 percent of college students who graduate from high school in 2014 enrolled in remedial courses.
Briana Boyinton an Education Wed producer, in his Article “Plan Ahead to Avoid Remedial Classes” for U.S. News, he points out how “remedial classes are courses that are designed to help students learn developmental skills in math and reading so they’re prepared for college –level work. Students have to pay tuition for these classes, which don’t count for credit and can delay graduation, particularly if students have to take more than one”.
Furthermore, the majority of these remedial classes contain students who are non-native speakers of the English language or there have been on an extended break in their education. Also, based on Boyinton’s article,” one estimate suggests that more than two-thirds of college students take at least one remedial course.” In addition, most instructors who teach remedial courses find themselves overwhelmed with the amount of individual attention each student requires. This leaves the instructor and the students frustrated and at a loss as to how to address the needs of remediation.
Over the course of many years, financial aid (TAP/PELL) and other government-funded programs have reduced benefits packages that currently do not accommodate all of students’ financial needs, and to add to this dilemma the cost of tuition, books and other college related supplies continues to increase. This causes disappointment to students who cannot afford to pay out-of-pocket. As a result, students are borrowing loans as a way to supplement their income and to pay for their tuition. Danielle Dougles –Gabriel covers the economics of education. She writes about the financial lives of students from when they take out student debt through their experiences in the job market.
In her article “Congress cuts federal financial aid for needy students”, Gabriel gives readers a run down on why the congress has cut $303 million in funding for federal programs. She goes on to write that these cuts to the Pell grant is to “free up money to pay companies that collect student loans on behalf of the Department of education.” Equally important, congress’ explanation for these cuts to Pell is that “the demands placed on Pell during the recession, when thousands of people entered or went back to school, have changed as the economy has improved.” Gabriel also notes that these cuts target the nation’s lowest income earners and a significant number of these recipients of the Pell grant is from African American and Latino households.
Regardless of the fact that most people’s opinion is that educational institutions are in the business of educating, most of the prestigious Ivy League colleges or universities are brand names, and they make an effort to distinguish themselves from others. Meaning, they must stand out. Some of these institutions are famous for their athletics department and others seek to illustrate their prestige by emphasizing their higher standards in academics by employing prominent and well-learned scholars who are experts in their areas of instruction. To complement the teaching faculty there is the need for highly qualified administrative staff who play an important role in the daily operations of how an institution functions.
In his article” Netting an elusive breed how to attract and retain better teachers”, Mark R. Warner, the governor of Virginia and chairman of the Education Commission of the states, talks about his experience in operating a successful business and the challenges he faced. Warner states “there is no greater challenge than to attract and retain the best-qualified, hardest-working employees.” He goes on to say, “To accomplish this, businesses must offer compensation and benefit packages, positive working environment, and opportunities for employees to gain more responsibilities and to upgrade their skills. The suggestion offered by Mark Warner in his article is what most colleges and universities board of directors agonize over each year as they sort to hold onto qualified faculty.
What Say You?