No college without college prep

It seems like a bare minimum: Indiana is considering requiring public universities to require applicants to take core academic courses.

A blue-ribbon panel is pushing Indiana universities to require applicants to complete the stateÕs college-preparatory curriculum in order to win admission and financial aid.

Eventually, the Education Roundtable wants to make the “Core 40” curriculum a high school graduation requirement.

Sixty-two percent of graduates now complete the Core 40 coursework. The curriculum requires students to complete four years of English, two years of algebra, and a year of upper-level mathematics, as well as three years each of science and social studies. It also requires electives in foreign languages, the arts, and technology.

Students who don’t complete the academic courses could start at a community college and then transfer.

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  1. PRO: Students who were never going to get through university aren’t being deceived about the possibility of getting through.

    CON: Students who didn’t take a core academic courses and yet would have prospered in university will not get that opportunity.

    In this case, I consider the number of students affected by the PRO case to be quite high, and the number affected by the CON argument to be vanishingly small. (I’m not in favour of massively high standards for universities as I’d rather let most people at least have a chance at making it through, but the number of late bloomers who couldn’t even *pass* the core academic courses and yet prosper in university has got to be miniscule.)

    I’m with Indiana on this one.

  2. superdestroyer says:

    Considering that last year was the first year that over 50% of parents of student taking the SAT had attended college, most kids should know what it takes to prepare for college.

    It used to be that many kids came into college as first generation to attend college but now most kids should easily be aware of what it takes to prepare.

  3. Steve LaBonne says:

    Tom, starting at a community college to catch up is in no way a deprivation- community college is the ideal place to do that. There is just no excuse for admitting kids to a four-year school who need to be taught high-school amterial. Remedial courses at four-year pubilc colleges are a misuse of tax dollars.

  4. speedwell says:

    Well, OK. What about kids who transfer in from out of state? Think about the plight of a high school senior, new to Indiana and to his school, who was on track to graduate with good grades from his old school in Georgia (for example) but now lacks, say, the year of upper-level math, some arts electives, some technology electives, and the third year of science, because Georgia requirements are much looser. No matter HOW gifted a student he might have been, no matter how suited for college, he will have to start in the hole at some lower-quality school because Indiana turns its nose up at him.

  5. Steve LaBonne says:

    That’s BS, and snobbery to boot. When I was a college teacher at a fairly prestigious liberal arts college we had a fair number of junior transfers from a particular local community college. Those I worked with were well-prepared and in no way “in the hole” from their first 2 years. When you graduate from a well-known 4-year school after spending some time at a community college, your degree is from the former. No matter how you look at it, your comment about being “in the hole” is an insult to, among others, many excellent studetns who start at a good community college to save

    There is just no valid reason, none at all, for s student who, for one reason or another, isn’t prepared to do colelge work, to be admitted to a 4-year college. The community colleges have some excellent teachers who are experienced with bringing such students up to speed. They can do the job not only more cost-efficiently, but just plain better than the four-year schools can.

  6. Um, Steve, I think we’re actually in agreement here :-). Requiring core academic courses for university seems eminently reasonable to me for the reasons I discussed in my first post.

    Speedwell, I think the standards for Indiana have to be set for Indianans. Presumably the out-of-state students would either have some sort of exemption, or choose a community college for a year to get the missing courses.

  7. Steve LaBonne says:

    Tom, I know you ended up in agreement with Indiana, but you seemed kind of distressed by what you perceived as a downside for some of the kids- I just wanted to point out that there really isn’t a downside, since no opportunities will actually be foreclosed. If any of these kids without the core courses really would have prospered at the 4-year school (which, based on the underprepared students I’ve taught, seems to me very unlikely), they’ll also prosper at a community college and be A-1 transfer applicants. So don’t worry, be happy- the kids are all right. 😉

  8. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Gee, no more 500 student classes in dumbbell english?
    I have come to believe that universities should only accept upper divison transfers. Of course that would play hell with football teams.

  9. Doug Sundseth says:

    As someone who has attended community college, a public 4-year university, and a private 4-year university, I find it notable that only in the first case are the instructors primarily hired to teach.

    This is not to say that I didn’t learn at the 4-year schools, but the average teaching ability of the instructors at the community college was higher than that of the professors at either of the other schools.

  10. Steve LaBonne says:

    Absolutely agree. There are many outstanding community college instructors who are the unsung- and underpaid- heroes of the higher education system.

  11. College, yes. HS diploma, no. Does everyone who is not planning on attending college need two years of algebra and a year of geometry? Heck, I’m a research chemist and rarely need to use math beyond Algebra I.

  12. Richard Brandshaft says:

    What is “upper-level mathematics”? That was not a rhetorical question. For what it means to me, the requirement is unfair. Calculus and beyond just isn’t for everyone. (Much beyond wasn’t for me either.)

    This connects with the last topic: basic numeracy as applied to public affairs wasn’t part of the ciriculum in my distant youth. Is it now?

  13. I was rather dismissive of “junior colleges” based on some fill-in courses I took in the late 1970s (hadn’t done any math since 1969 and was going back to a degree program that required statistics & calculus–yikes!) then got to know some folks at De Anza and Canada. Very impressive teaching and thinking going on there.

    Blog resources:

    In some ways I don’t understand the position, as most local public and private schools march through the University of California required prerequisites. But then again, my daughter will be a 4th-generation college-goer (the degree of understanding that gives is incalculable).
    2-Year Colleges Face an Identity Crisis–They play a central role in job training and access to higher education, but their public image suffers (At Community College English, we invite faculty from all higher education institutions to discuss the theory and practice of teaching writing and literature at the two-year college) (I’m wondering tonight about connections between the changing face of the economy and the changing face of higher education. Howard Tinberg writes, “With a student body roughly split between those who intend to transfer to four-year institutions and those who plan to go directly into the workplace, and with a faculty whose background reflects both academic training and workplace experience, the community college cannot afford to ignore the critical question, What kinds of knowledge do we want our students to leave us with? [. . .] )

    I’ll stop now, not because I’ve exhausted the subject, but because it is time to go play.

  14. How is the Indiana requirement different than the following?
    (a description of the UC requirements, and how they may be satisfied).