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Incoming college students: The fall marks an important rite of passage for many of you wrapping up high school: visits to our nation’s colleges and universities.
As you and your parents step onto leafy campuses to visit classes, dormitories, and student unions, I want to throw a cautionary fact into the mix: the professors you meet are most likely not the ones who will be influencing you. An emerging group of “college administrators” on campus is taking over and according to a new national survey I’ve conducted, how they view student learning is completely out of line with our nation’s professors — and you.
As a professor at a number of institutions of higher education, one of the most notably progressive colleges in the country, I’ve seen firsthand the disconnect between students and those who are running the show on campus both in and outside the classroom: not professors, but college administrators.
These collegiate administrators — those who work in areas such as student affairs, diversity and inclusion, and residential life — far outnumber faculty and are gaining significant power on campus in terms of setting the overall tone of the school and in terms of how material is taught. The scary part is this group has amassed more power and influence than professors, the ones who are actually trained to teach. Further, college administrators are overwhelmingly politically progressive — to the tune of 13:1.
Not only have I seen the disconnect first hand, I’ve researched it. In a massive national survey I just conducted on our nation’s college campuses, the data make one thing quite clear. Student administrators are a powerful class of non-academics, and they view the educational process quite differently from those teachers whose goals are to find the truth and promote viewpoint diversity.
When I asked both professors and student administrators if undergraduates, like you, are mature enough to be given responsibility for their own education, a scary difference emerged. About 75 percent of administrators believed this is the case compared to just 45 percent of faculty.
As a professor with more than a decade of teaching experience, the idea that most of my students are mature enough to plan out their education is preposterous. The very reason I am a professor is to help students and even occasionally force them to consider myriad viewpoints and push them to gain the discipline and analytical skills needed as they struggle to make sense of the world. The fact that so many administrators see it so differently scares me and contributes to the widespread nonsense that has recently plagued schools nationwide.
However, this was just the beginning of many wide disparities in terms of how administrators view education compared to actual instructors. The real disparities came when discussing ideology.
A whopping 86 percent of administrators see “personal values” as important when educating, compared to a notably lower 59 percent of faculty. With numbers like these, it shouldn’t surprise us when you and your parents tour schools and see countless narrow workshops and events created not by faculty, but administrators intended to highlight various harms and encourage various forms of liberal recompenses.
The data also show how far administrators are willing to go when spreading their ideology. A whopping 71 percent of student administrators are far more concerned with teaching current events, multiculturalism, and highlighting social justice questions instead of math, science, and technical knowledge.
Such a worldview will only turn those of you in the classroom into ignorant, ahistorical activists with few analytical, empirical, and reasoning skills that are hallmarks of a true liberal education.
But where all of this is the most troublesome is when it comes to you, the students — those who suffer most by out-of-control student administrators.
Contrary to incoming students’ wishes to learn about a wide range of ideas and from the best and most qualified professors, much of the “education” being offered on campuses is occurring outside the classroom. This programming is not being presented by professors, but by administrators who are not bound by the same historic and sacred commitment to the scientific method.
Students often don’t realize how one’s real education is being hijacked and limited until they begin to think about postgraduate plans. Yet significant curricular and institutional changes are being made not by a group of professors, but by a committee of administrators from departments as varied as student affairs to financial aid and the student accounts office. This administrative overreach is common, and administrators around the nation regularly change the rhythm of the academic year and the way in which professors teach and engage with students.
If you and your parents truly knew the extent of academic malpractice on today’s campus, you would be much more careful on those college visits. While not every college and university is dominated by this out-of-touch administrative class, the data make it clear that when they are, it can be very problematic.
Higher education is a competitive market and when choosing your school, please select carefully. College is a significant investment, and you need to be challenged and pushed by professors to grow and reach your full potential — not coddled by administrators.
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