Excerpts From Freshman Reading Program Questions,
Autumn 2005, Jerome Bauer, Discussion Leader

a) Professors frequently compare today's students unfavorably to the "greatest generation" of WWII veterans. or the Vietnam era student radicals. The former had a prodigious work ethic, the latter might just as soon picket your office as do the assignment, but at least they would argue in class. Today's students, it seems to some of us, are like sheep, wanting to do just what they need to get an "A," not taking chances with their grades.

I once made this observation in class, but I went on to say this is unfair. College today costs many times what it did just a generation or two ago (more than it did when Richard Rodriguez earned his degrees). For that much money, you cannot afford to take chances, and neither can your parents. And, even if you have a scholarship, "anything that is given may be taken away."

One of my best students, [on scholarship] immediately responded "YES!!"

Does higher education cost too much? If students are afraid to disagree with their professors, are they getting a good education? Do we professors have too much power over our students? What should the University do? What should professors do? What should you do?

[Should all the ideologically driven disciplines adopt a P/F system, with a "High Pass" option for over-achievers? Would this really solve the problem?]

[Go to Abolition of Tuition]

b) Should universities offer a "money-back guarantee"?

[In several of my syllabi, I include the following note:

Money Back Guarantee

This is your course. You are the ones paying inflated tuition to take this course. I work for you, as your bibliographic assistant. It is my job to give you your money's worth (not really possible, because it costs too much, but I promise to try). It is my job to empower you to get whatever you want from this class, something of personal and professional value to you. I would offer you all a "money back guarantee," if I were running Washington University.]

c) This summer I had a guest speaker in one of my classes who graduated from... a small Bible college in rural Missouri. He informed my class that his alma mater had abolished tuition for students living on campus, and the experiment is working. Enrollment has doubled, and alumni donations have increased. Other Bible colleges are following this example.

Should Washington University follow this example as well?

d) The August 26, 2005 edition of Student Life has the following headline, "New workers' wages to increase tuition." Could workers be paid more without raising tuition? [Is it fair to blame the SWA for raising your tuition?]