Low expectations

Community colleges expect little of their students, concludes the Community College Survey of Student Engagement. “No one rises to low expectations,” says Vincent Tinto, a Syracuse University education professor and advisory board member. From USA Today:

. . . 67% of full-time students said they spent 10 or fewer hours preparing for class in an average week, and 24% said they always came to class prepared. Among full-time students, 29% said they had written four or fewer papers of any length during the current school year.

“Students aren’t going to learn to write well at that rate,” survey director Kay McClenney says.

When her organization asks students in focus groups about their academic experiences, she says, “one of the more poignant things we hear, and we hear it relatively often, is: ‘They don’t expect enough of me.’ “

About 36 percent of community college students complete a degree of some kind within six years.

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  1. “No one rises to low expectations.”

    Nicely put.

  2. This ties in nicely with a post I put on my blog today about the University of California system’s plan to *lower* academic standards so more “lower income” students, who probably don’t have the support system necessary to help them get into a UC under current standards, can gain admission to a UC campus.

  3. That reminds me of this great statement: “the soft bigotry of low expectations”…

    It didn’t take long for me to realize in college that the classes I did best in were the most difficult; the classes I did worst in were the “easy” ones.

    I think part of the problem is the idea that poor kids go to community colleges; and that either poor kids aren’t as bright, or it’s assumed that they’ve had poor quality education and can’t succeed when challenged. Either way, the problem is an attitude among educators that economically successful people produce bright (or at least tutored) children. I think this goes against one of the basic principles of our country: that intelligence, creativity and drive can spring from anywhere. The liberal illuminati don’t give any favors by assuming that hardships equal a capacity for less excellence.

  4. I taught one semester at a community college when I was in grad school. While I don’t deny there are good community colleges out there, this one was not one of them. I got in “trouble” for making my tests “too hard” – not “in trouble” with the students only, “in trouble” with the administration. I was called in for a come-to-Jesus talk, where I was basically told, lower your standards or don’t plan on coming back next semester.

    Well, I’d already made that decision so it was pretty easy to stand firm.

    Community college SHOULD be an inexpensive option for students to get their Gen Ed classes taken care of in a smaller setting, not a second-tier “college experience” for people who really aren’t prepared/motivated for college. Unfortunately, that’s what a lot of them tend to be.

  5. Ahaa…free-linking so here I go! I think we are in need for a global internet-university. Think about all the energy we save if we got rid of all those university building spread out over the planet. All the vehicles “needed” now for transport of molecules to and from the universities are not needed anymore. Naomi Klein talks about support your local this and that……..now here is your change guys…stay at home lectures from all over the world. Exams for most studies are not needed anymore and again we are saving a lot of energy there. Just train the loops in your brains more efficient, without the clumsy old school methodology.

  6. My daughter attends a community college, for a number of reasons, one of them economic. One of the big bonuses of the community college is the diversity in the student body–sorely missing in most of the “regular” colleges that we looked at, even the large state university. Not only is their and economic and racial mix that is missing elsewhere, but there is a different age mix. There are a number of mature (by which I means something in addition to “older”) students–who have a work history and ethic. They have lives off campus. It is interesting to me that the large university has had an enormous problem with drinking and associated problems (vandalism, fires, riots), that they have frequently viewed with a “well, what can you do, they’re college students” attitude. Meanwhile, we have about four or five other colleges in town (a business university, an arts college, the community college, several smaller private universities) that just don’t seem to have those problems.

    I would say that the community college is frequently the place to find students who are ready and motivated for college–as opposed to it being just the next stop on some pre-ordained track set by parental expectations.

  7. Having been awarded two degrees from our local community college (where I teach sometimes as an adjunct), I’ve often said that you’ll get out of education what you put into it. Where instructors have high expectations for students, they’ll do quite well (in addition, the community college is probably the best bargain in post high school education a person can get for the money you spend).

  8. I could have saved them whatever they spent on that study.

  9. I really don’t think college is the place for people who have trouble constructing sentences, but if you read through freshman English papers, you’ll find that letting students submit essays that aren’t written in controlled environments is not a useful way to filter applicants. Yes, there needs to be a high expectation for students to rise to, but that expectation needs to be set by admissions for 4-year schools.

  10. Chynell S. says:

    I have taken a few community college courses over the summer while attending a larger university in the fall and spring. There was a lot of disorganization at the community college but when it came to expectations-I found myself to be challenged by the course work. I have taken similar classes at the university and have found that in some instances the community college courses had much higher expectations. I agree with Bill, it depends on the instructor. What is the difference if an instructor is knowledgeable about the subject area and knows how to motivate students to learn and works at a community college versus an unmotivated, careless instructor at a larger university? The students at the community college would clearly benefit more. It also depends on the student. From personal experience, students who I have known to attend a community college, other than to save money, went because they didn’t feel like they could do well at a university. It is just a generalization that society has on community colleges that has some truth to it, but there are many exceptions. I think there is a general stereotype being backed by a few statistics.