Notes on Selingo's 'College Unbound'

The ideas and viewpoints expressed in the posts on the Ideas and Creations blog are solely the view of the author(s). Luther College's mission statement calls us to "embrace diversity and challenge one another to learn in community," and to be "enlivened and transformed by encounters with one another, by the exchange of ideas, and by the life of faith and learning." Alumni, faculty, staff, students and friends of the college are encouraged to express their views, model "good disagreement" and engage in respectful dialogue.

One of the most widely discussed books in higher education circles this year is Jeff Selingo's  "College Unbound." Selingo is an editor for "The Chronicle of Higher Education" and is highly regarded for his insights into our industry.

Selingo addresses a number of distinct topics but a consistent thread through these topics is that colleges and universities are operating in an increasingly competitive environment with new alternatives for consumers as they advance their educational objectives. He couples this with the contention that issues of low academic rigor, a broken financial aid model, and too often a lack of assessable outcomes are contributing to parents and students questioning the value of a degree or at least questioning if there is a value gap between various alternatives that are available to learners. He pointedly asks "Is it worth the money?"

While he takes education leadership to task on many points, what makes this book remarkable is that he talks to parents and students and attempts to guide them to a set of objectives that should be sought after to best take advantage of the college experience. Essentially, he makes the argument that consumers must take ownership of their education experience. His objectives are:

  1. Subjects Don’t Matter, Cognitive Abilities Do.
  2. Seek Passionate Faculty Mentors
  3. Dive Deep into a Research Project
  4. Go on a Transformational Global Experience
  5. Be Creative. Take Risks. Learn How to Fail.

As an educator and administrator, I feel challenged by Selingo on how I conduct my business. 

As a parent of a first year student at Luther, I gave a copy of the book to my son so he can better craft his undergraduate experience.

Rob K. Larson

Rob K. Larson

Rob Larson is the vice president for Communications and Marketing at Luther College and a member of the President's Leadership Cabinet. He has been a member of the business faculty since 2003. Currently, he teaches the Scholars Colloquium course for first-year Regents scholars.

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