You don’t even need to read the article; just follow the link and check out the graph in the left-hand sidebar.
What’s tuition up to these days at private universities, parents? About $30-35,000?
Quote:Nearly half of the nation’s undergraduates show almost no gains in learning in their first two years of college, in large part because colleges don’t make academics a priority, a new report shows.
Instructors tend to be more focused on their own faculty research than teaching younger students, who in turn are more tuned in to their social lives, according to the report, based on a book titled
Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses. Findings are based on transcripts and surveys of more than 3,000 full-time traditional-age students on 29 campuses nationwide, along with their results on the Collegiate Learning Assessment, a standardized test that gauges students’ critical thinking, analytic reasoning and writing skills.
After two years in college, 45% of students showed no significant gains in learning; after four years, 36% showed little change.
Students also spent 50% less time studying compared with students a few decades ago, the research shows.
Despite learning a little bit of jack and a whole lot of squat, students in the survey nonetheless managed a 3.2 GPA on average according to the study’s author, which tells you most of what you need to know about grade inflation and the rigors of modern higher learning. Another fun detail from the same study via McClatchy:
Quote:Many of the students graduated without knowing how to sift fact from opinion, make a clear written argument or objectively review conflicting reports of a situation or event, according to New York University sociologist Richard Arum, lead author of the study. The students, for example, couldn’t determine the cause of an increase in neighborhood crime or how best to respond without being swayed by emotional testimony and political spin…
The study’s authors also found that large numbers of students didn’t enroll in courses requiring substantial work. In a typical semester, a third of students took no courses with more than 40 pages of reading per week. Half didn’t take a single course in which they wrote more than 20 pages over the semester.
If you think false media narratives are easily absorbed now, wait until the Leaders of Tomorrow graduate and take their place in society. I keep thinking that the combination of a poor economy and ludicrous higher-education costs will solve this problem to some degree by re-normalizing the idea of entering the labor force after high school. If you’re a kid who’s unenthused about incurring a mountain of debt for the privilege of four more years of study with no guarantee of finding a job afterward to fund the repayment, why not pound the pavement for an entry-level/trainee position somewhere instead? The pay will be rotten to start and the lack of a diploma will make some future employers think twice, but in the meantime you’re debt-free and building skills — and if I’m right about re-normalization, the “no diploma” stigma will fade a bit culturally over time. The one flaw in my theory: Er, there are no entry-level jobs out there for kids, are there?
Something to inspire you while you ponder. Mild content warning.
For some this is certainly true. I knew a guy who studied Sociology and never went to any of his classes. He just drank and played golf all the time. Oddly enough he passed all his classes.
I guess I took my education a bit more seriously.
Incidently, as my dad told me, education should be about teaching you about life and not just filling your head with useless stuff. The way I see it, you might not get a great job with your education but it will give you and edge over someone with no education at all. Even if you work as a dishwasher at least you will be an educated dishwasher.
"None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free."
Quote:couldn’t determine the cause of an increase in neighborhood crime or how best to respond without being swayed by emotional testimony and political spin…
Well, isn't what university is all about? A giant social-alchemy Pavlovian thing trying to condition the dumb masses to react instinctively to catch phrases and bogus rhetoric.
Funded academic research is nothing more that political spin dressing impartial.
Try swimming against the tide and you'll lose your subsidies and tenure...in the worst cases (Irving, etc) you may be financially or personally destroyed...oh, sure, that implies going along with some Cottingley Fairies kind of narrative and bogus explanations, but it's alright.
As the 90yos befuddled conwomen of Cottingley finally admitted, they conned nobody: people just WANTED to believe that garbage...and even hurried to make excuses up for them anytime (often) visible holes popped up in the narrative and related paraphernalia.
A.A Mole University
B.A London Institute of Applied Research
B.Sc Millard Fillmore
M.A International Institute for Advanced Studies
Ph.D London Institute of Applied Research
Ph.D Millard Fillmore
A former Miss Canada finalist has become the first graduate of a Liverpool university's groundbreaking degree program based on analyzing the Beatles' music and their impact on Western culture.
Liverpool Hope University officials believe the master's program offers the first advanced degree based on the life and times of the Fab Four.
Mary-Lu Zahalan-Kennedy joined the program when it started in 2009 and graduated Wednesday. She is one of 12 full-time students of the program _ "The Beatles, Popular Music and Society."
Zahalan-Kennedy, a singer and actress, said the course provided insight into the wide-ranging influence of the Beatles.
The course also deals with how the port city of Liverpool helped shape the group's identity.
This isn't from The Onion. Actual content from program prospectus:
Quote:2.1 Programme Aims
To provide the student with a robust and systematic understanding of the contexts within which the Beatles and other 'Merseybeat' artists emerged
To develop the student as an autonomous researcher able to explore the historical and contemporary musical, social and industrial issues facing popular musicians such as the Beatles in the past and the present day and by doing so, to prepare for potential doctoral research
To develop expertise in the communication, analysis and evaluation of complex and underrepresented concepts in the interdisciplinary field of academic popular music studies
To allow students to show originality and distinctiveness in the recovery of partially hidden historical issues and marginalised narratives surrounding the Beatles, popular music and society
You think? Can it really be that incurring tens of thousands of dollars in debt to attend a private university where most of what you learn won’t be relevant to your career is a bad investment?
Everything I thought I knew about the world is … pretty much confirmed here, actually.
Quote:A new report released by Harvard Wednesday states in some of the strongest terms yet that such a “college for all” emphasis may actually harm many American students – keeping them from having a smooth transition from adolescence to adulthood and a viable career…
“It would be fine if we had an alternative system [for students who don’t get college degrees], but we’re virtually unique among industrialized countries in terms of not having another system and relying so heavily on higher education,” says Robert Schwartz, who heads the Pathways to Prosperity project at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education.
Emphasizing college as the only path may actually cause some students – who are bored in class but could enjoy learning that’s more entwined with the workplace – to drop out, he adds. “If the image [of college] is more years of just sitting in classrooms, that’s not very persuasive.”…
The United States can learn from other countries, particularly in northern Europe, Professor Schwartz says. In Austria, Denmark, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, and Switzerland, for instance, between 40 and 70 percent of high-schoolers opt for programs that combine classroom and workplace learning, many of them involving apprenticeships. These pathways result in a “qualification” that has real currency in the labor market…
“If we persist with the illusion that everyone is going to college, then we’re cheating those kids who aren’t going,” Professor Ferguson says. “A majority of the workforce does not have a college degree, and a majority of the things those people do are going to continue not requiring a college degree.”
Read it all. I wrote about this topic a few weeks ago in a post that got more than a thousand links on Facebook, which tells me that these recent cost/benefit analyses about the value of expensive college educations are striking a mighty big nerve out there. Ace has a sharp post on this subject today as well, wondering if deemphasizing college wouldn’t actually be good for the cause of liberal arts by encouraging a culture of sustained, lifelong autodidacticism in the humanities. If kids with an interest in, say, great literature know that they can’t cram foundational knowledge of the subject into four years of school, they may end up pursuing it for much longer than that during their adult leisure time in book clubs, learning annexes, etc. I confess, I’ve barely read a single novel since leaving college, and yet a friend of mine my age who didn’t graduate high school attends book clubs and film clubs to this day. There are weaknesses to this approach, obviously — kids need some exposure to the humanities in school to see if an interest is sparked — but it’s cheaper and more efficient than a four-year curriculum and probably better suited to our new economic reality. If, as is the case in Fresno, there are plenty of jobs available that can’t be filled by the unemployed because they don’t have the right skill sets, maybe focusing on building useful skill sets should be a priority for kids who aren’t much interested in higher learning, no?
Ace makes a good point too in noting how the Internet is helping to make the intellectual “market” more efficient by providing virtual space for people with similar interests to congregate, but to really see the vocational model of higher education take off, I think we’d need huge cultural changes beyond that. The CSM piece quoted above notes, correctly, that the vocational schools we already have are looked down upon, and my sense is that sending one’s kids to college is now as much a part of the American dream as owning a home with a white picket fence. In fact, Obama said in the SOTU that he wants to see the U.S. reclaim its spot atop the list of nations with the highest rate of college grads. That’s an exceedingly stupid goal given the backbreaking cost of private education and the amount of time wasted at school by many students (see last month’s post for that), but I’d bet most of the public is squarely behind him on it. How do you shift a culture from a credentialist mindset to one that’s more focused on the bottom line?
Good post, Richard. I'm glad the admins ignored your request for self-flagellation. This may be the only higher ed discussion board where somebody rebuts a study with a study instead of ad hominem invective and recitation of socialist doggerel.
Unfortunately, the study referenced in the article you cited was sponsored by the leftist ACE, described here as "promoting socialism."
They summarize the study but don't link to it here. From what they do show it looks like they only polled grads from 20 colleges. It would be interesting to know if they polled grads from top rung, bottom rung, private, public, for-profit, or what. Similarly, no break down as to two or four year degrees, subject, academic or vocational, or if they are employed in their field of study. I suspect that like most things the answers vary depending on who you ax and how you ax them.
And even with a stacked deck they only got 62% agreeing that colleges prepared students for work. The study cited in the original post says that half the job openings filled by workers with post-secondary education will go to people with an associate’s degree or occupational certificates. Many of these will be in “middle-skill” occupations that pay more than many of the jobs held by those with a bachelor’s degree.
Likewise, it appears they only polled recent grads. That's kind of like polling recently unemployed and asking if they expect to find a job in six months. Ask them all again in about seven months and see if you get the same answers. I suspect they didn't ask any of the waiters and 7-11 clerks with advanced degrees how that college education was working out.