Over the last ten years, I taught accounting at Miami University, the University of Cincinnati and Wilmington College. Prior to teaching, I worked as a CPA in public accounting, commercial banking and auditing.
I am concerned about the quality and value of a college education as I know you both are. However, I would like to know who has the influence to change things – the accreditation bodies, the State legislatures, the Department of Education, the State Departments of Higher Education, the Governors, etc.
Here are my concerns:
1. Focus on improving graduation rates might cause colleges to pass students to meet that specific goal that is obviously tied to State and Federal funding, financial aid and tuition dollars. This goal is much like rewarding loan officers for making a loan without a focus on quality. This was Fifth Third Bank’s policy (and may still be) while Third Federal pays loan officers a salary – 2008 financial crisis – Third Federal takes no TARP money, Fifth Third does (among other negative fallout). How do you incent the wanted outcome?
I was hired at Wilmington College to develop an accounting program. I quickly found that I was expected to give A’s to all students to “keep them in class.” From what students in the Business program told me, they were just assigned A’s in their classes, at times no classes were even held – all semester, exams were either group or take-home, etc, These students are just as capable as those at the University of Cincinnati and Miami University, but, they suffered from low expectations and entitlement fostered by the college. To be fair, another professor in the Sciences told me that her department didn’t give out grades.
No final exams were required at Wilmington – just a meeting; a canoeing trip, a dinner.
I was never asked to give out grades at UC or Miami.
Who is tasked with auditing grades of a college? Obviously, not everyone earns an A – at any institution.
2. Education has become big business with a focus on the customer (the student). Has anyone done a study – a real study – on why tuition has increased so much in the last forty years?
While the current focus has been to minimize tuition increases, are colleges increasing other fees to compensate? A quick look at Miami’s most recent financial statements show an approximate increase in tuition and other fees of 7% which cannot be explained by the slight increase in enrollment year over year.
A few years back, Miami’s State funding had been cut and an outside consultant was hired to make recommendations to either increase revenue or decrease expenses. Being that Miami’s accounting program is one of the best in the nation, I approached the Assistant Dean of the Business School to offer my introductory accounting students as “free” consultants; thereby giving them solid, real world experience. I was told – “Don’t go there.” One wonders what is hiding in those financial statements…….
Who is tasked with reviewing financial statements and addressing issues with administration? Are there any guarantees that an institution will actually do anything to address the issues raised?, i.e. is there any enforcement power by anyone?
3, At Wilmington College, every class is assigned 4 credit hours. At UC and Miami, the introductory accounting classes are 3 hours each. I asked the Dean of Students at Wilmington why every class was 4 hours – her response – students get an extra hour for their study-time outside class. The majority of classes at UC and Miami are 3 credit hours. Based on hours necessary to graduate, Miami and UC students would take approximately 40 classes while Wilmington students would take approximately 30 classes.
Who is tasked with evaluating credit hours assigned to courses?
4. Students using financial aid to provide living expenses when clearly they are either not qualified to be in college or don’t even show up to class.
Who is tasked with monitoring this?
5. Not all students should be in college – this can be demoralizing and expensive for those that might be better suited to other endeavors. Is there some way to provide direction to high school students on alternatives to college, e.g. education in the trades?
Is this being addressed or how might this be addressed?
6. As more hybrid and on-line courses are offered, how is course time adjusted? What are the outcomes from an online course vs. a classroom course?
How or is this being measured in some way?
My main concern here is that students may not be receiving an education that will prepare them to be employed; that is a moral failing, i.e. to take tuition money/financial aid/grants, etc. and not get any real return. My secondary concern is who is really tasked with monitoring colleges and enforcing positive change – it’s clear that colleges won’t do this on their own.
I would be happy to discuss this further at your convenience. Further, I would offer my experience and background to assist in anyway possible.