Chancellor Blank column: Wisconsin and the future of undergraduate education

Chancellor Blank’s column on the future of undergraduate education appeared in Sunday’s Wisconsin State Journal.

Public education has been one of our greatest success stories as a nation. Our country pioneered in making public elementary and high schools available to all children and created land-grant public universities that made college possible for citizens from all backgrounds.

The widespread availability of public education in the United States has been linked with the success of our society and economy over the decades. Today, almost 90 percent of high school graduates can expect to enroll in an undergraduate institution at some point during young adulthood.

But not all of the news is good. Graduation rates are not what they should be: Only 60 percent of those who start on a four-year degree will graduate within six years, and only 30 percent who attend two-year programs will complete a certificate or degree within three years. Those who start but fail to complete a degree are the primary ones who are unable to repay their student loans.

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