The Weekly Dispatch

By Sara Hebel & Scott Smallwood | Open Campus

A weekly newsletter about the role of higher education in society, exposing failures and examining solutions.

A weekly newsletter about the role of higher education in society, exposing failures and examining solutions.

By subscribing, you agree with Revue’s Terms of Service and Privacy Policy and understand that The Weekly Dispatch will receive your email address.




The pandemic promised change. Here, it didn't come.

A lot of times we write about hidden barriers to education, surprising complications or bureaucratic complexities that go under the radar but have huge consequences.The issue Nick Fouriezos recently dug into isn't like that. The problems of unequal access to …


We're expanding to Florida

When it comes to college in America, we revere the age and history of our most renowned institutions — the ones that are quick to remind us they predate the founding of the country. We even created a whole architecture style around making our colleges look me…


How does this tiny Colorado town send most students to college?

Earlier this year, Jason Gonzales, our local reporter with Chalkbeat Colorado, set out to examine another element of the "Colorado Paradox" — the way the state does a great job of attracting people with college degrees, and an underwhelming job of getting peo…


A devotion to merit aid in the South

In Mississippi last fall, a big debate emerged over student aid.The state sought to overhaul how it gives out money for college, creating a new program that would base awards on a combination of need and merit, as measured by a composite ACT score. The Missis…


Postcards from the college journey

What really gets in the way of college dreams? What barriers are too high, what needs are more pressing? And how do some people find their way?What, or who, keeps them going? Why do they persevere?We’re spending this year talking with Californians about their…


When $93 is a barrier to college

Back in the fall Charlotte West, our national reporter covering education in prison, got a draft of a story that mentioned some of the bureaucratic hurdles incarcerated students face in Florida.For one, being locked up there does not make you a state resident…


Aroma of Legitimacy

Industry-sponsored studies, while a central part of the American research university, have prompted debates for years. Drug companies, chemical manufacturers, the sugar industry, and big oil companies have all faced the occasional blistering critiques for the…


Life Without Loans

When one of your monthly bills— maybe even one of the biggest — suddenly disappears, what do you do with that newfound cash? That's been the question for roughly 40 million Americans during the pandemic as the federal government froze repayments on student lo…


What will become of work?

Two years after workplaces around the world shut down, people seem to be wading their way back in.On Zoom, I’m seeing more newsrooms in people's backgrounds. We’re making plans to attend conferences, in the flesh. This week I got together, in person, with Nao…


What will Elon Musk mean for the Rio Grande Valley?

Something lost. Something gained.Perhaps that, Nick Fouriezos writes, is the story of Elon Musk’s impact on the Rio Grande Valley. The world’s richest man arrived in the remote, mostly Hispanic region two years ago, promising that his interstellar dreams coul…


The Trick of Prestige

My second favorite Christopher Nolan movie is his 2006 film about two rival magicians called The Prestige. That was the first time I learned that this word — "prestige" — had a more complicated history. It came to our language as French word meaning "a conjur…


The Great Student Resignation?

One thing the pandemic has ushered in is a fundamental re-examination of work. Tens of millions of Americans have quit their jobs in the past year, and workers everywhere it seems are demanding better pay, benefits, and flexibility.The Great Resignation, as w…


Everything old is new again

Three higher ed news stories jumped out to us this week. And as is so often the case, they feel like shadows of stories we've seen — or written — before. First, conservative groups are expanding the battle over elite public high-school admissions, filing laws…


Who could be against social-mobility rankings?

Who could possibility be against social mobility rankings?In recent years — at least in the higher-ed policy wonk space — they have become the answer to every conversation about rankings and metrics and outcomes. What we need, the argument goes, is to focus o…


Inside Mississippi's only class on critical race theory

Any debate about critical race theory in America can feel so pointless because it's generally subject to shape-shifting, bad faith, misunderstanding, and competing definitions.It's become the type of topic that gets much attention but little actual illuminati…


A surprising barrier to college

Before starting college, Larry Fordham Jr., needed to track down decades-old documents. His parents had moved from the house he’d been living in with them back in 1989, and they hadn’t kept a copy of the deed, 30-year-old tax records, or utility bills.Eventua…


Is College Admissions Broken? Or Working Exactly As Intended?

"The race for numbers is over," the college president wrote. "The race for quality has begun. A few years ago our colleges and universities were competing for students, and great emphasis was laid upon 'healthy growth.' Now we are beginning to limit our numbe…


We're expanding to Indiana

Across Indiana, colleges are talking to you.On the interstate, Ivy Tech Community College assures: “Whichever way you’re going, we’re here for you.” Along the Indianapolis streets, Earlham College promises to be “the college that will change your life so you …


Town, gown, and dirt

When we talk about the relationship between colleges and their communities, we often talk about things like economic development, property taxes, and jobs. But the impact of a campus on its neighbors is often about much more basic things: housing and safety a…


When the SAT Feels Like a Lock, Not a Key

Our latest episode of Bootstraps, our podcast series about merit in education, starts in an unlikely place: the 1983 Tom Cruise movie Risky Business.That's because Jeff Young, the EdSurge editor and host of Bootstraps, wanted to capture a bit of the popular c…