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Experts map out future of US higher education

April 05, 2011

American students must have a high vision of what they can achieve and high school and college educators can collaborate better to push students to reach their potential.

“We need to reach down to the seventh grade and get kids comfortable with the notion of high achievement, and at the same time, help set expectations for them,” said Mark Jacobs, dean of Barrett, The Honors College at Arizona State University.

Jacobs was speaking at the forum on “The Future of Higher Education: College Choice and the Global Race to Out-Innovate, Out-Perform and Out-Build” that took place March 31 at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.

The forum included a panel of educators and college admissions officers that gathered to explore the future of higher education in this country in the course of domestic economic pressures and global competitiveness. It was part of a series of discussions hosted by ASU in the nation’s capitol to bring together national experts and policymakers to address the great challenges faced by the nation and the world.

The wide-ranging discussion focused on how today’s youth can plan for the college experience and how high school and college educators can collaborate to push students to the forefront of knowledge. It also centered on how American institutions can retain the lead when world-class colleges and universities are being developed in other countries.

“There needs to be something in high school to help students focus on why they want to go to college, what they will get out of it, and projections of future jobs and careers,” said Joyce Smith, chief operation officer of the National Association for College and Admission Counselors and one of the panelists. “We need to do a better job communicating what happens after they graduate.”

ASU President Michael M. Crow moderated the panel discussion with opening remarks given by Martha Kanter, Under Secretary of Education in the U.S. Department of Education.

“For the future of the country, we need investments in education,” Kanter said. “We need to increase the high school graduation rate, particularly in urban and rural areas where it drops from 75 percent to 50 percent. In college, students often leave, not because they can’t succeed, but because but because of economics and family concerns. The main issues are accessibility and affordability.”

In addition to Jacobs and Smith, the panel included Douglas Christiansen, vice provost of enrollment and dean of admissions, Vanderbilt University; Pamela Horne, associate vice provost for enrollment management and dean of admissions, Purdue University; and Mary Ann Rankin, dean, College of Natural Sciences, University of Texas at Austin.