This Week's Herman Trend Alert

in Normal 2.0


  The Herman Trend Alert

December 28, 1999

Whither Education? Part 2: Undergraduate Colleges and Universities

3 days until January 1, 2000
369 days until January 1, 2001

Undergraduate education is a vital part of our system for preparing young people for careers and life. How well is the process working? For some, it's wonderful. For others, there are major deficiencies that will stimulate significant change.

In broad generalities, there are two approaches to undergraduate education today. One is to acquire a liberal arts education, gaining an appreciation of history, philosophy, art and culture, communications skills, and an enhanced ability to think creatively to solve problems and develop new ideas. The other approach is to concentrate on developing technical expertise in a particular field of study such as engineering, accounting, computer science, or business.

The years a student invests on campus should prepare the graduate for the challenges of the ensuing career. In the past, this flow has been natural and appropriate: graduates entered their field and climbed the ladder of success using the knowledge and skills gained in college. More capacity was acquired on the job, contributing to a rewarding career in that chosen endeavor.

The present-and particularly the future-suggest a much different career path. Today's graduates will change jobs many more times than their predecessors, and will change career paths a number of times, as well. Many of today's students will hold jobs in their careers that don't even exist today. The employment environment is considerably more dynamic and demanding. Undergraduate curricula must change to be more responsive to the needs of the students of today and tomorrow.

Our forecast is that we'll see more emphasis on liberal arts, providing students with a broader foundation from which to manage their ever-changing careers. Students will want to be challenged, stimulated, and more deeply educated at a faster rate. Professors will mix their own capacity and experience with learning technologies like the internet for a more comprehensive experience, connecting theoretical with practical.

Students will demand quality in their education, desiring to learn from teachers with a powerful combination of academic preparation and real world experience. We expect to see more visiting executives, stimulating guest lecturers, and a variety of outside resources applied in the years ahead.

Happy New Year, New Decade, and New Millennium!

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