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Higher Ed’s Dirty Little Secrets

(Inside Higher Ed) Concealing secrets, all of us recognize, exacts a cost.

Sometimes the cost is mental: carrying a secret requires us to expend mental energy that could otherwise be directed elsewhere. It may leave us feeling guilty or ashamed or remorseful.

But the cost can also be interpersonal. Hiding secrets from a partner or a close friend is emotionally taxing. It raises the specter of deceit, disloyalty and duplicity. It creates a wall that separates us from those we are closest to.

Higher education, too, has many deep secrets that deserve a public airing. Some secrets aren’t secret to academics:

-Many, perhaps most, colleges favor higher-income applicants.

-Four-year institutions are graduating a third more women than men; community colleges, 50 percent more.

-Nearly 40 percent students at four-year institutions fail to graduate after eight years.

-Three-fifths of college graduates would change majors if they were starting over (30 percent for better job opportunities; 26 percent to pursue their passion).

-Prior to the pandemic, 43 percent of college graduates were underemployed in their first job; two-thirds remained in jobs that don’t require college degrees five years later.

-Most professors have no formal training in teaching, learning or course design.

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