Colleges Column

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Many high-school seniors would welcome the opportunity to serve in the military if the U.S. government paid for their college education in return, according to a national study conducted by the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research.

The students surveyed were asked to react to the following idea: three years' service in the military at low pay followed by a college education--with the government picking up the tab for tuition plus $300 a month in living expenses for up to four academic years.

More than a third of the men and a quarter of the women responded that they would be likely to sign up for such a plan. Most were students who would not plan to serve in the armed forces under present programs of incentives, the researchers said.

The dean of undergraduate admissions at Harvard University says that his office is receiving fewer and fewer applications from lower-income students.

"Less-affluent students and their families are beginning to select themselves out of the applicant pool before they learn of the financial-aid options that might make it possible for them to attend Harvard and Radcliffe," says William Fitzsimmons. "This is particularly unfortunate because we continue to admit students regardless of financial need."

The number of applications from students whose parents did not attend college has declined by more than a third in the past three years, from 27 percent of the total number of applications to just under 16 percent.

Athletic budgets should be the first trimmed when cuts are required in institutional spending, according to a majority (61 percent) of 3,000 college and university administrators queried in a recent survey.

On the other hand, responded a similar percentage of the top-ranking officials, money for teaching and faculty salaries should be the last to be cut.

A major increase in competition for students in the last few years was reported by more than a third of those leaders responding to the survey by the Center for the Study of Higher Education at Pennsylvania University. More than half expected that recruiting and retaining students will be an important concern for them in the next five years.

A third of the officials reported a decrease in faculty morale on their campuses.

A similar survey of state-level policymakers in higher education, conducted last fall by the Education Commission of the States (ecs), uncovered what researchers termed "broad consensus" on the leading issues of the 1980's for colleges and universities. The state leaders consistently identified education quality, basic skills/remedial/developmental programs, physical-plant concerns, public-institution tuition levels, and changes in federal financial-aid programs as the top issues ahead.

"... debates about quality and standards," says ecs, "will be increasingly prevalent at the state level and are likely to be increasingly coupled with budgetary decisions."

This month, when Yale University's faculty ended several months of controversy by voting to reinstate a foreign-language requirement for undergraduates, Brown University became the last Ivy League institution to hold out against such a requirement.

The Yale rule, which will take effect with those graduating in 1987, was opposed by the chairman of the school's French department, who said he feared that forcing unwilling students to take the courses would "put a damper" on the enthusiasm of others.

Yale had abandoned the requirement in 1968, the same era in which Brown dropped all distribution course requirements under its "New Curriculum," and many other schools followed suit. Now Yale and the other Ivy League schools, along with liberal-arts colleges nationwide, are returning piecemeal to curricula that require students to become familiar with defined areas of knowledge before they may graduate. Brown officials continue to support the concept that students should be permitted--with the help of faculty counselors--to make such choices themselves.

Community colleges must develop strategies to deal with the large number of people who do not have the skills necessary for college study, at least "until high schools are able to bring them to full literacy," says Robert H. McCabe, president of Miami-Dade Community College, the largest two-year institution in the U.S.

Miami-Dade tests its 46,000 students when they enter and restricts course loads of those students who fail to meet "reasonable expectations" in math, reading, or writing. And it is not shy about suspending students for poor performance.

More than 10,000 students have been suspended in the last few years, Mr. McCabe says.

But he adds that the percentage of students suspended is declining; it has declined most rapidly among black students, who previously had a much higher suspension rate than whites.

This summer, Lehigh University will sponsor a series of four-day workshops for school administrators.

The workshops, which will be held on consecutive weeks beginning July 6-9, are designed to provide opportunities for administrators to "interact" with professors, consultants, corporate leaders, and superintendents who have distinguished themselves in their areas of specialization. Courses may be taken for credit or audited; the fee is $135.

Workshops will examine: Schedule Construction (July 6-9); Career Development (July 12-15); How to Become a Super Educator (July 19-22); The Management Team (July 26-29); Management Styles and Decision-Making (August 2-5); Leadership for Improved School Productivity (August 9-12); and Improving Basic Skills in Administration (July 6-August 12).

For more information, contact Perry A. Zirkel, Department of Administration and Supervision, School of Education, Lehigh University, 524 Broadhead Ave., Bethlehem, Pa. 18015, or the Office of Summer Sessions at Lehigh.

Sheppard Ranbom and Martha Matzke

Vol. 01, Issue 31

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