President Roth Reviews The End of College

Michael Roth

Michael Roth

President Michael Roth reviewed The End of College by Kevin Carey for The Atlantic. Though it might be tempting to dismiss the book as just another doomsday declaration about higher education, writes Roth, Carey’s “call for more accessible student-centered universities is a powerful response to some of the real problems that beset these institutions today.”

Carey visits a handful of colleges and universities, including some–Harvard, Stanford, MIT–that admit fewer than 10 percent of applicants. “This dynamic of exclusivity is, Carey contends, about to change. Big time,” writes Roth.

Carey signs up for an online biology class from MIT, and proudly reports his test scores. “The online class that the Cambridge institution makes available and free to anyone in the world through its ‘MITx’ program is good enough for teaching something as advanced as complex genomics. You don’t have to get admitted to MIT to learn this stuff.”

Roth writes, “Carey contrasts the pedagogical sophistication of the best MOOCs, like his MIT biology class, with what he imagines to be the careless, untrained in-person teaching of research-oriented professors. He is quite sure that students get little out of sitting in lectures…But he presents no data or arguments on why some teachers are better than others, or about why in-person education might have some benefits. He wants to convince the reader that universities are merely defending the velvet ropes of exclusivity. He writes that the current system of getting into college ‘is a lot like being invited onto a yacht … where you get to sip cocktails served by attractive young women.’ Really? For whom is this true?”

Read the full review here.