Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Postsecondary Success

20190422

Postsecondary Success Notes | Tough conversations in higher ed

Colleagues,

Like you, we at the foundation are deeply troubled by the news of bribery and fraud in college admissions involving high-profile institutions and individuals. I have been absorbing the story from many angles and have a couple of brief reflections to add to the discussion.

Beyond the legal and ethical questions, this situation exposes serious issues plaguing parts of our higher education system. It underscores a prevailing definition of prestige based on who is excluded rather than who is included and the reinforcement of privilege rather than economic and social mobility. This can and must change.

The scandal also reminds us that we should be spending more time talking about the more important story. A growing number of colleges and universities and their partners are changing what they do to improve the odds for today’s students. We urgently need a conversation about the value higher education adds for students, particularly those who do not come from the kinds of privilege seen in recent news stories. (Stay tuned for more on the value of higher ed in the coming weeks.)

While only a few are responsible for the misdeeds dominating the news, we all have a responsibility to understand what they represent and how we as a field should respond.

Regards,
Patrick Methvin