In his April 20 op-ed, “Colleges get schooled by plummeting enrollment,” George F. Will was sanguine about lower enrollment in higher education because among its major causes is the politicization of the academy.

As a professor who just retired from full-time professorship following nearly a half-century, I can tell you that he was 100 percent correct. I know many universities and many academic organizations whose humanities and social sciences are progressively biased beyond what even cynics estimate. I just left the National Communication Association because of its thoroughly anti-conservative stances and prejudices.

I might differ from Mr. Will’s implied conclusion that this is unsolvable. Mr. Will’s experience might explain this cynicism, as 30 years or so ago he spoke at my university at my behest and then had a contract broken for a second appearance by a university president who yielded to the uninformed Student Government Association head. After an oral contract had been accepted, she complained that Mr. Will was “too conservative for Towson University.”

There is a solution, however, and that is to ensure that more conservative professors are hired. This can be done with ease and would in time counter the findings that conservatives are vastly outnumbered by liberals and moderates in nonbusiness and nonscientific majors often by as much 10 to 1.

Richard E. Vatz, Towson

If every college and university announced the elimination of tuition, it would be front-page news. It would also not, on its own, stop the bleeding of years-long enrollment declines.

Young adults are turning away from higher education not just because of sticker shock but because of institutions’ ongoing failure to put students’ needs front and center. Three-quarters of higher education students today are “fluid” — whether because they are raising children or caring for adult family members, working one or more jobs or paying their own way through school. The traditional four-year degree path (let alone living on campus or taking all classes during business hours) simply will not work for them. The longer we stubbornly cling to these antiquated models, the more students will rightly turn their backs on us.

There’s a better way. A new paradigm in which colleges and universities adapt to their students’ circumstances and experiences, rather than the other way around; consider students’ health and social and emotional well-being as much as we do their academic output; facilitate connections to potential employers not when the journey to a degree is nearing completion but before it even begins; and position ourselves as our students’ partners and allies long after graduation ceremonies are held.

Higher education leaders are used to doing a lot of talking. It’s about time we stopped to listen.

Anne Khademian, Rockville

The writer is executive director of the Universities at Shady Grove and associate vice chancellor for academic affairs for the University System of Maryland.

George F. Will attributed overall declines in college enrollment to changes in the nature of higher education, including the teaching of “abstruse literary theories” instead of formal analysis of great novels such as “Mansfield Park.” As a scholar of Victorian literature, I love the idea that dire consequences could result from a failure to properly appreciate Jane Austen.

But the explanation for declining enrollment is much simpler. The lingering strains and disruptions of the coronavirus pandemic combined with a historically strong job market have led some students to prioritize immediate wages over long-term investment in education.

Mr. Will cited survey results showing that the public is increasingly skeptical of the value of a college education. And yet the “wage premium” for a bachelor’s degree remains very high. A 2020 study by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce demonstrated that the average 40-year return on investment for graduates of liberal arts colleges is $918,000.

Doubts about the value of a college education do not reflect reality so much as they reflect the rhetoric of opinion columns such as this one.

Alison Byerly, Northfield, Minn.

The writer is president of Carleton College.

In his op-ed about the cost of college education, George F. Will attacked one of the favorite punching bags of conservative Republicans — that is education, especially higher education. From labeling college students “slouching, bored and sullen” to decrying the high cost of college without indicating its true source, Mr. Will was spot-on with conservative talking points.

One reason college and university costs have soared is the decreasing investment of federal and state governments in higher education. We have put the burden of college education on the backs of students and families. As a society, we refuse to acknowledge the benefit of having an educated citizenry, and our capitalist-driven escalating push for increased profits over all has reduced the earning potential of many important careers, including social services, public health and elder care, never mind art, music and literature.

Judy Thomas, Mechanicsville