This is the title and argument of an interesting piece in the Chronicle of Higher Education (The Overworked Bachelor's Degree Needs a Makeover).
I would like to comment on two points raised in the article.
1. The author suggests that the four-year bachelor's degree be split into two parts the first of which would be "a one-year program focused on a general education." One year? Is that really sufficient to give students a broad general education? As I've written elsewhere (Being Well Read), a good program of general education might be formulated using a read based curriculum where students would read a minimum of 5 books in areas of general knowledge including the natural sciences, humanities, history, and social sciences. By my calculation a solid general education of this kind would take 4-6 years. What can really be accomplished in one year that would count as "general education?"
2. Later in the article the author seems to advocate a "gap year" saying "Many 18-year-olds are simply not ready to start college only three months after graduating from high school. Yet there are few organized, inexpensive options available if they want to delay college to earn money, gain credits, or just figure out what they want to do in life." Here the surprising point is that there are few organized, inexpensive options available." This shows a shocking, yet typical (for academe), lack of awareness of the amazing options available for kids to explore and figure out what they want to do. A few of these include:
Zero Tuition College
Plus other inexpensive gap year options and many writers exploring and advocating these.
Yes, the academic degree needs a makeover but in order for those in higher education to contribute to this change they first need to be aware of what is already happening outside of higher education. Many academics live in an insulated bubble. Time to get out of that and into the world!