‘Adrift’ after college

People who didn’t learn much in college don’t do well as graduates, concludes a follow-up report by the authors of the controversial Academically Adrift study. Graduates who scored in the bottom quintile on the Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA), a test of thinking skills, were more likely to be unemployed and living with their parents, compared to graduates in the top quintile, reports the Chronicle of Higher Education in ‘Adrift’ in Adulthood.

Thirty-six percent of undergraduates showed no gains in “critical thinking, complex reasoning and written communication skills,” concluded sociologists Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa in the earlier study, which became a book. Arum and Roksa surveyed more than 900 of the “Adrift” students to see how they fared after college.

The students scoring in the bottom quintile were three times more likely than those in the top quintile to be unemployed (9.6 percent compared with 3.1 percent), twice as likely to be living at home with parents (35 percent compared with 18 percent), and significantly more likely to have amassed credit-card debt (51 percent compared with 37 percent).

Top-quintile students also were more likely to say they follow the news and discuss politics.

That suggests “the general higher-order skills” tested by the CLA are “real and meaningful,” Arum said.

Though business majors didn’t show much growth on the CLA — and didn’t spend much time studying in college — they were the most likely to find full-time jobs. “Perhaps it’s going to catch up to them down the road,” Arum said.

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  1. They shouldn’t have gone to college in the first place. Everyone knows it, and no one will admit it.

    See the Marc Tucker article on career and technical ed.