Will higher college enrollment hurt standards?

Are the standards ready?

It’s time to discuss some nitty gritty here at On Campus. This week we’ll be monitoring this Insight Now debate on MPR:

Will expanding college admissions downgrade college standards?

(There will be some structured back-and-forth debating among the participants, with plenty of time for you to chime in. To jump right in, you can read the background information here and yesterday’s opening arguments here.)

The main thrust of the assertion that it will lead to an erosion of standards: The longtime push to expand college to an ever-increasing number of students has funneled into the system many who are unprepared for college and essentially doomed to failure. And efforts to keep them in have eaten up colleges’ resources and forced a lowering of standards to meet retention goals.

Two of the debaters have already appeared here in On Campus with some eyebrow-raising comments.

Peter Wood, president of the National Association of Scholars, has written about why he thinks the growing access to student loans has jacked up the cost of college.

And opponent Kevin Carey, policy director for the independent thinktank Education Sector, has made some snarky comments about tenure. He has also accused Winona State of sacrificing its core mission by trying too hard to be like a research university. (He caught some heat for that one.)

The debate has a more formal structure in which the two sides will make their arguments and counterarguments each day this week, with a wrap-up by MPR’s Michael Caputo on Friday. In the meantime, I should be throwing out some info and observations from time to time.

Please do chime in with opinions, because it’s a critical issue that affects so much of what colleges and universities do — and how society will look for years to come.