Gray expectations

College success requires academic preparation — and understanding academic expectations.

In Teaching across the cultural divide, a foreign-born student with poor writing skills threatens to give the adjunct a bad online rating unless she gets an A.

About Joanne


  1. The college instructor’s “Teaching Across The Cultural Divide” story is a scarily common one, and one I’ve experienced far too many times to count… The sad truth is, some people just aren’t meant for academic work, period. Not University, not community college, not anything that requires deep thought and writing and organizing data and good record keeping. Some people are just meant to be “average Joes” or “average Janes”…

  2. They should be prepared for college expectations while they are still in HS; the term college-prep used to encompass both the academic material and the non-academic material. The latter includes study skills (note-taking, outlining, summarizing, research methods, citations, paper formats, plagiarism avoidance, etc) and learning that college students are responsible for knowing what courses they are required to take and in what order, what deadlines exist about declaring majors/minors and seeking academic help when it’s needed. One would like to think that that would be an area for guidance counselors to make a big impact, but all the ones I’ve known were worse than useless in anything related to academics; their interest was all in the emotional-counseling area.

    Yes, the issue is exacerbated by the sheer numbers of college students who don’t belong there, whether they’re unprepared or unmotivated, or both.

  3. I’d keep a copy of the exchange between the foreign born student and adjunct, and let the schools admission office know…suspension or expulsion would be warranted in such a case, IMO.

  4. Not these days! The student bring in money. The instructor drains away money. So, in any conflict these days, the student wins. Even if the student has NO concept of what it means to be in an academic setting, what cheating is or how it’s defined, what the roles of teacher and student are supposed to be, that you have to meet your teacher halfway and work hard to achieve any learning, etc.

    What makes me sad is that about 70% of the general population of humans on Earth is exactly like that foreign student in the story above. Only 30% should ever be in college in the first place. But the problem is, there aren’t enough of the 70% type jobs to go around for the 70% anymore! Computers and robots and logistics are replacing many of those jobs… Forever. So, what will the 70% do then?

    • Roger Sweeny says:

      At least 70% of the available jobs don’t require a college education.

      1. There are lots and lots of jobs that don’t require much training. For example, the number of people employed by nursing homes and assisted living places is tremendous–and will only go up. However, since most anyone who is willing to work hard can do the jobs, they also don’t pay well.

      2. Lots of jobs which say “college degree required” don’t actually require a college degree to do the job. You don’t need a degree in “hospitality” to run the front desk of a motel. However, hiring on the basis of useless degrees is legal and socially acceptable. And to be fair, degrees do signal a certain intelligence, conscientiousness, and conformity (HT: Bryan Caplan).

      • Good points… I remember reading in another thread on this site about how employers use a Bachelor’s degree as a measuring stick, because using IQ tests or other such tests is considered discrimination…

        • The Duke Power SC decision has had lots of (probably-hopefully) unintended consequences. As I understand it, Duke Power used a screening test to determine who would be able to complete their training program(s) successfully and do the job; essentially an ability/aptitude test. People with enough “g” (IQ) can be successfully trained to do many things. Thanks to that decision, HS grads who formerly would have passed the test, and been hired and trained now must get a college degree; because the original test didn’t produce equal results across racial/ethnic groups. The original test has been replaced, at great expense, by a college degree – which also is not equally distributed across racial/ethnic lines (particularly if difficulty of major is considered). So, it all ends at the same place, but costs XX times more…aah, progress.