In going through some files recently, I came across a list of what I saw as pressing issues in colleges and universities:
- Violence on campus and the changing expectations for security
- Students in psychological distress and the changing nature of confidentiality for mental health services
- Fear of Pandemic diseases on campus
- Success gap between majority and underrepresented students
- Alcohol-related injuries, disruptions and enforcement of the legal drinking age
- Creative parent involvement
- Measuring and assessing student learning outcomes for accountability
- Social networks
- Students’ expectations of college and figuring out who our students are today
I wrote this list in 2008. What do we see now as the pressing issues for colleges and universities? Are they the same and more so? Are they fewer? Are they different?
What I’m hearing as I visit campuses and speak with colleagues is that the pressing issues are the same and more so. For example, underage students are still drinking to get drunk and the new thrill is to “go get black out.” Students used to drink in excess but to black out was a serious episode that most students took as a signal to stop drinking to excess. Today, I hear that some students begin the evening drinking with a goal to black out.
In 2008, we were honing our skills to figure out creative ways to have parents work with us rather than attempting to push them away as our earlier instincts had suggested. Today, some report that our efforts to control the participation of parents in the lives of their college students are encouraging more involvement to the detriment of our efforts to support students in their natural development of independence. There is agreement that some parental involvement is a good thing, but is there even a line to be drawn today?
I would love to hear what you think about the pressing issues of today for your college or university. I did not mention the obvious issue of technology and learning because it deserves a space all to itself.