Declining by Degrees: Higher Education at Risk is a PBS documentary airing right now. Check here to find out when it's on in your area.
Readers alerted me to it (it airs in Dallas at 3 p.m. Sunday, June 26, on KERA, Channel 13). Here's an excerpt from the network's synopsis:
At a time when a college education is vital to an individual's future and our nation's economic standing in the world, "Declining By Degrees: Higher Education at Risk," a two-hour documentary airing on PBS, explores the simple yet significant question: What happens between admission and graduation? The answer: often not enough.
With more than 14 million students at 4,200 colleges, serious questions are being raised about the quality of teaching and learning, retention and graduation rates and the skills of those students who earn their diploma. As Lara Couturier, a higher education consultant explains, "There's been report after report and commission after commission formed of business leaders who are calling out to higher education and saying 'We need to change the system. We are not satisfied with the level of skills that our employees are showing up with.'"
"Declining by Degrees" takes viewers to college campuses around the country to hear firsthand from students, teachers and administrators who provide candid insights of the national problems and challenges facing higher education in America. It's a topic too important to ignore. As Richard Hersh, former president of Trinity College and Hobart and William Smith College says, "Higher education is about the future. And it is about the way in which we travel to the future in terms of being prepared, or it's the way in which we fail the future."
Being prepared is one of the first and biggest challenges freshman college students encounter. As Matt Morris, a freshman at a regional university in Kentucky, was moving in he was already aware he was not ready for the academic demands of college. "I could have been a straight 'A' student in high school," says Matt, "I was 'A-B', without bringing a book home, so I don't have very good study skills." Hersh says Matt represents an increasing problem. "I think we're taking many, many more students who are not prepared for college. I think that's true. I think we have to ask questions about who should we be admitting, and how should they be better prepared before."