Tell the Truth About Colleges, writes Thomas Toch of Education Sector in The Atlantic. The truth is that some college students aren’t getting much of an education.
Only about half of all college entrants earn degrees within six years. And many who do aren’t learning much: one study indicates, for instance, that only 38 percent of graduating college students can successfully compare the viewpoints of two newspaper editorials.
Tuition keeps going up, but there’s no evidence students are learning more.
We need to shed more light on how well colleges are educating their students—to help prospective students make better decisions, and to exert pressure on the whole system to provide better value for money.
Toch wants the Obama administration to offer stimulus dollars in exchange for colleges agreeing to release results of surveys of student learning.
For many non-technical students, the first two years in college repeat the last two years of a good high school, writes Abraham Miller, a retired political science professor, on Pajamas Media. Well-prepared students could complete college in a year or two, he estimates.
Early in my teaching career, I had a student from one of the state’s best high schools. She was bright, but hardly exceptional. I found she was taking more than a full class load and holding down a full-time job. I was amazed. She told me that her classes at a suburban high school were more demanding than their repetition at the university. She chose classes where attendance wasn’t mandatory. Was she recycling her high school term papers? Of course; so was everyone else from her class.
Engineering programs require hard work, he writes. Talented and motivated students will get a real education.
But if your kid is rather average, had trouble in high school, has no real interests, and is touring schools because “they’re scenic,” maybe you should consider what you really are buying for that tuition money.
. . . I would suggest that you keep your child at home and send her to a good community college, where she will spend the two years of high school repetition acquiring the skills she needs. And if she doesn’t, the financial burden will not keep you in a permanent state of indentured servitude.
Miller wants national examinations that would let self-educated people qualify for a degree — or show whether college attendees actually have a college education. Not going to happen, of course.