Response to NYT op-ed: College for Grown-Ups

by Melody Rose, Ph.D.

Dr. Stevens’ editorial, College for Grown-Ups, piqued my interest. Not because of the topic, but because of the date. This op-ed piece was published in yesterday’s New York Times on the topic of the changing reality of the traditional college student and that higher education needs to step up, adapt and provide an educational environment that meets the needs of today’s population.

Why did the date of the article surprise me? Because this is not a new issue, at least not new to us at Marylhurst University – a liberal arts college located south of Portland, Ore. Data and trends tracking the interests, needs and expectations of college students have pointed to this changing reality for decades.

That’s why Marylhurst was one of the first universities to offer a fully online degree program as far back as 1996. In 1974, we were the first liberal arts college designated a “college of lifelong learning” focused on nontraditional learners. The majority of our courses are held in the evenings or on the weekends, and we seek out opportunities to help our students financially afford their college education. In other words, nontraditional students (as defined by the higher education institutions) are our traditional students.

Yes – higher education can be slow to change, but there are those, like Marylhurst, who lead the pack in breaking down barriers and developing high-quality educational programs for the modern college student.