#highereducation #college #tenure
You’ve heard many times that nothing is more constant than change.
Yet, higher education is either slow to recognize the need to change, or just refuses to.
Greg Charleston, a CPA, certified turnaround professional and senior managing director at Conway Mackenzie Inc., discussed this in a column in the Oct. 20, 2014, edition of The Atlanta Journal-
Charleston likens higher education’s story to that of Willy Loman, the lead character in Arthur Miller’s play, “Death of a Salesman,” a reading staple in college literature classes. Willy was slow to adapt to change, as is the current higher education model.
As Charleston points out, the availability of student loans made demand for higher education constant, despite changes in the economy. Also, parents never wavered from the belief that a good education was the key to their child’s future, and did whatever they had to do to make sure their kids went to college.
Now, as Charleston says, government funding is shrinking. Students don’t want to be saddled with debt, especially if they see that their older colleagues are graduating into a shrinking job market. What good is a great education if a student can’t parlay it into a good job, so that they can pay off that massive debt?
Also, Charleston says, more students are opting for non-traditional study – online courses – eschewing the traditional campus life many thought would be so much fun. Yet, many colleges are relying on their reputations to stay alive. One learns quickly that he cannot eat prestige for breakfast.
Charleston suggests alternatives to keep up with the times. He suggests some colleges and universities merge, or offer online alternatives. They need to find ways to scale back costs to keep it affordable to most students.
Perhaps, the really good teachers and professors will need to record their lectures and classes, to make them available universally in the academic world. Academic tenure, as is happening in the corporate and professional world, may soon be a thing of the past.
Parents also need to know their children. They need to ask, is college really right for my son or daughter? It’s OK to answer NO to that question. It won’t mean they will not have a future. In fact, there are many ways to ensure a great future for children without a college education. For one of the best, visit www.bign.com/pbilodeau. You may find a great way to ensure a marvelous future without the debt and other headaches of getting a child through college.
Those students taking on college may also find a great Plan B, in case their careers after college get off to a slow start.
Higher education, like other facets of life, has to adapt to a changing world. It has to realize that dollars are limited, that there are other ways to get educated and that it may not be a universal path to a great future for young people.
It’s nice to have a great aura or reputation about you. But it’s better to keep one’s doors open.
It’s nice to have a faculty position that will never go away, as long as you want it. But if the whole institution disappears, that position can’t help but go away.
So, to all students, pursue your dreams as you see fit. Study what you must to get to those dreams. But keep in mind that there is more than one route to those dreams. Find the route that fits you best.


Many of us grow up in small towns, rural areas or neighborhoods of larger cities and grow fond of the area, the people etc.
But, when we enter adulthood, perhaps going off to college, it hits us: we may not realize our full potential if we settle down back home. Settle may be the operative word here.
New York Times columnist David Brooks discussed this phenomenon. He wondered whether, in the meritocracy vs. government race, it would be so bad if meritocracy won.
In a nutshell, a young person leaves home and goes off to college. He realizes his limited potential if he moved back home, where only a small percentage of the folks living there had college degrees. He decides to move to a place where, as Brooks quotes, up to 50% of the people have college degrees, i.e. San Francisco, San Jose, Boston, Washington or the Raleigh-Durham area of North Carolina.
The folks back home may call him snooty for not wanting to move home. But he has a degree from an elite university, i.e. Stanford or an Ivy League school. He got good enough grades back home to get into the prestigious school, did well once he got there and now HAS to reside where people are more like the new him.
A friend relayed the story of his childhood. He grew up on a farm in Georgia. When he wasn’t in school, he was working on the farm. He enjoyed some aspects of farming, but it was backbreaking work.
Finally, in his teen years, he told his father that he did not want to do this the rest of his life.
His father, it turned out, had been waiting years to hear those words.
Farming taught him hard work. But it also taught him how NOT to spend his life. There was so much more out there.
He stayed in Georgia, but had a superb sales career.
So what’s wrong with growing up in a small town, or rural area, or a specific neighborhood of a city? Nothing at all. But the kids grow up in an age of equality – everyone is the same and should be treated as such. When they move on to bigger and better things, they have to learn to go for distinction. They must be more accomplished, more cutting edge, to thrive in the new world, as Brooks points out.
This distinction even occurs in higher education. Many universities look to hire professors from the elite schools. Even the graduates they produce are not good enough, Brooks says.
The world demands innovation, collaboration, global thinking. Where one has grown up often thrives on a collective sameness and routine. There is security in sameness. There is tradition in sameness. There is equality in sameness. But for those who want to thrive in the world, change must be the operative word.
There is good news for those who may live in the sameness of “home,” wherever that is. There are many ways for you to prosper without leaving home. To check out one of the best, visit www.bign.com/pbilodeau. Like the young college grad who needs to move out of his comfort zone into the bigger world, those left at home may have to leap outside their comfort zones. And, it can be done without leaving home.
The moral here is that sameness and equality may not improve the world as it should. Those seeking to see their great potential thrive have to depart their world of sameness and venture out into the world of competition, and, yes, discomfort.
It isn’t to say that they shouldn’t help the folks back home. But, they don’t have to settle for the sameness of their parents’ world. The more people who jump from their comfort zones to find their full potential, the better the world will be. Striving to be equal has far worse consequences than striving to be better.