US institutions urged to make possible changes now to improve student success

April 13, 2012

Writing for The Chronicle of Higher Education, Hilary Pennington of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation argues that US PSE institutions need to stop debating ways to improve graduation rates and instead make the changes that are possible right now. She argues that institutions must focus on the issues they can change, rather than on those they can't, like poor preparation. Pennington writes that students need highly structured programs with limited choice in order to help them earn degrees more quickly, and that universities should not view employable skills and a liberal-arts education as being mutually exclusive. In order to achieve these goals, she recommends that PSE institutions ease credit transfers, recognize the value of community colleges, increase personalization, and collect and publish data on student success rates. Pennington argues that Americans should rethink the PSE cost structure and embrace the different types of PSE institutions, including community colleges and for-profit universities. The Chronicle of Higher Education (free access)