College isn’t what it used to be. Today it’s full of those so-called “nontraditional” students in need of “remediation” and lots of “financial aid.” We have to adapt in order to accommodate their “needs” and “deficiencies.”



This common discourse is all kinds of wrong. Today’s students are regular people. The privileged people are “nontraditional!” Those fortunate few who get to attend amazing high schools with great college preparation and who can afford college easily — they are in the minority. But colleges have long focused on catering to that elite group’s whims and desires, never referring to their “challenges” with, for example, conspicuous consumption.

Our language in higher education has to change. Our entire approach has to change. We must catch up to reality. Earlier this week, inspired by my friend and student affairs pro Andy Howe, I decided to lay down some new rules for higher education. Here’s my first ten, formulated initially on Twitter. Let’s have this conversation. Put out your new rules — and share them — at #NewHigherEdRules

Rule #1:

The following statements and claims should be banned:

· “We should admit only those students we know will succeed.”

· “Freezing tuition makes college affordable.”

· “There are no homeless or hungry students on our campus.”

· “Low-income students are “held harmless” by our tuition hike because we provide financial aid.

· “It’s impossible to fundraise for need-based aid.”

· “Once you file the FAFSA, college will be affordable.”

· “Parents are expected to make financial contributions to their children’s education.”

Rule #2:

If you distribute financial aid based even in part on some sort of known class-biased measure like test scores or grades, then you can’t call it “need-based” aid.

Rule #3:

If students are required to live on-campus then you must offer on-campus housing that is less expensive than off-campus housing.

Rule #4:

If you offer work-study, and advertise this to prospective students, then you must say what percent of eligible students actually get work-study and the average amount (annually) offered to those students.

Rule #5:

No more “emergency loans.” They can’t exist as institutional policy. It is beyond cruel. Provide emergency grants.

Rule #6:

There can be no Office of Admissions or Office of Financial Aid if there is not also an Office of Retention.

Rule #7:

When referring to students who “waste” money, or targeting students for financial literacy programs, students who are spending their parents’ money must be included.

Rule #8:

Every faculty member teaching at a university of any kind must have at least one undergraduate advisee.

Rule #9:

Every college administrator must teach a class at least once every five years.

Rule #10:

You may not assume that students can’t learn. Aren’t skilled. Aren’t able. Go learn how to teach.

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