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A lot of reputable schools are notorious for being inaccessible. In some cases, it seems that the schools prefer to have this reputation. If they want to remain relevant, however, they'll have to change. Below are three ways that higher education can be made more accessible.
Take a look at entrance requirements.
One of the reasons why university’s often seems so inaccessible is because of the difficulty of getting into the school. While there is certainly a very good reason for schools to be selective when it comes to picking future professionals, the truth is that many schools purposefully put up roadblocks to make themselves seem more exclusive. Getting rid of these roadblocks will not only make law school more accessible, but it will also allow schools to recruit students who might actually be a better fit for the profession.
One of the main moves that schools need to take is eliminating standardized testing. Not only have some studies already shown them to be biased, but they are not a very accurate representation of the students knowledge of the subject. Test anxiety is no fault of the students, however can hinder them from progressing in their education. Rather than standardized exams, schools should move towards hands on projects.
Many universities are very behind the times when it comes to technology. This might be due to the fact that most tenured university professors tend to be older and as they haven’t worked in industry for many years, lack in technology skills. Many schools often pride themselves on the amount of time that students spend in class, but requiring seat time makes it very difficult for non-traditional students to go to school.
The obvious solution here is to offer more online classes and more online degrees. Many classes, especially during the first year, are very well suited to being taken online. In fact, the overall focus on writing during the first years of general ed classes makes online classes a natural support for new students. Once you add in the wealth of telecommuting options that are available, it seems absurd that many schools aren't offering more online options.
Focus on the reality of the career.
Simply put, many top schools have an attitude problem. They put more focus on ranking than any other type of profession, something that's led the biggest firms in the country to have an almost symbiotic relationship with only a handful of schools. While this might be great for a school's bottom line, it isn't necessarily good for the professions that schools prepare students for. There are thousands of fantastic young professionals coming out of less expensive, lower-ranked schools—and for these positions to be more accessible, there has to be more of a focus on the quality of a the education than the name of the school on a diploma.
Focusing instead on producing outstanding professionals would make higher education far more accessible. Dropping the attitude of elitism and putting a greater focus on making each class count would go a long way towards making the profession more egalitarian. This change would likely require a major overhaul of the way that schools perceive themselves, but doing so might allow schools to spend more time and energy recruiting individuals who can perform in their chosen fields. Whether it be business, nursing, or in tech. If only the top 10 percent of students are finding success, something is wrong with the way that schools are run.
Top universities can and should change with the times. Be it through a look at entrance requirements, class room styles or just overall philosophies of education, there are things that can be done to make higher education more accessible. Once universities make these changes, they can create a better class of future professionals.