Dr. Lorenzo Esters recently published a blog offering thoughtful insights to the president-elect. It is a critical time for higher education in the United States. Although educational attainment has increased across racial/ethnic groups, it is still significantly higher for whites, compared with African Americans and Latinos. In addition to racial/ethnic inequality, there are also strong economic inequalities in educational attainment. Fifty percent of those from higher income families have a college degree by age 25, compared with just 10 percent of those from lower income families.
In addition to inequities,another important issue is that today’s college graduates are not all finding jobs. Eighty percent of college graduates do not possess the core competencies needed for today’s professional jobs. With these issues in mind, Dr. Esters approached his higher education professional colleagues with the following question: What would you suggest to the next president of the United States about innovation in higher education?
Dr. Esters received responses from Charles Ambrose of the University of Central Missouri, Dhanfou Elston of Complete College America, Tia McNair of Association of American College and Universities, Peter McPherson of Association of Pubic Land-Grant Universities, George Mehaffy of American Associate of State Colleges and Universities, Emily Sellers of Indiana Commission for Higher Education, Mary Evans Sia of American Association of State Colleges and Universities, and Brian Sponsler of Education Commission of the States.
The responses varied, but two common overarching themes emerged. The first was college affordability. Several of Dr. Esters’ associates commented that the next president must work to bring down the cost and make it easier to pay for a college degree. Second, an oft-repeated issue was that of college completion. Many of these officials mentioned that Federal policies coming from the next administration must support the need to offer students clear, guided pathways, as well as tools such as coaching, that support degree attainment.
You can read the full blog post with detailed recommendations for the next president here.