How Colleges Are Ripping Off a Generation of Ill-Prepared Students

The 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress stated that of the nation’s 12th-graders only 37% tested proficient or better in reading and only 25% in math. But the graduation rate is 80%. That is awful. It is dishonest.

Moreover, 70% of high schools students go on to college. Best case 33% of HS grads going entering college are not proficient in reading and 45% are not in math. While this is—well, should be—a national scandal, the universities are complicit. Universities know that their students are not prepared for secondary education. But not admitting unqualified students is not an option because the universities must keep biggering and biggering, just like the Once-ler.

Consider this paragraph.

During a recent University of North Carolina scandal, a learning specialist hired to help athletes found that during the period from 2004 to 2012, 60 percent of the 183 members of the football and basketball teams read between fourth- and eighth-grade levels. About 10 percent read below a third-grade level. Keep in mind that all of these athletes both graduated from high school and were admitted to college.

That means only 30% could read at 9th grade or better. Likely those 30% were overwhelming bench warmers. If the above numbers were prorated by playing time, I suspect the percentage would plummet to single digits. That is unconscionable behavior. But this it not limited to just athletes. It effects all students because the college degree is being dumbed down and becoming worth less.

According to Richard Vedder, distinguished emeritus professor of economics at Ohio University and the director of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, in 2012 there were 115,000 janitors, 16,000 parking lot attendants, 83,000 bartenders, and about 35,000 taxi drivers with a bachelor’s degree.

Read the whole thing. I’ll end echoing the author’s conclusion. BTW, the author is the brilliant Walter Williams.

I’m not sure about what can be done about education. But the first step toward any solution is for the American people to be aware of academic fraud at every level of education.


Rising cost of higher ed

Mark Perry, professor of Economics and AEI scholar, posted this graph on AEI. It clearly shows the crazy increase in the cost of college. In addition, collective student loan debt is greater than $1.5 trillion dollars (cite). This cannot continue and, as Herbert Stein said. “If something cannot go on forever, it will stop.” There is an education bubble. I hope that Universities are preparing for it. Based on the number of new construction projects and other initiatives at NCSU, it appear our administration has its head in the sand.

Why Aren’t College Students Learning Anything?

In this article, Brad Polumbo (currently a student at UMass) notes the following

In his book Academically Adrift, sociologist Richard Arum of New York University reports that 45 percent of undergraduate students show little advancement in their ability to think critically, reason, or write well after their first two years of college.

As a professor this is embarrassing. I don’t know if this statistics applies to my university or my discipline. But I think it is a problem. I don’t have any great insights. However, it seems that universities and professors are the ones that set these lower expectations. I have no doubt that if we challenged and encouraged our students, they would embrace the opportunity. Not everyone of them. But college never was for everyone. Maybe that is one of the problem. In our culture college is assumed to be necessary and useful to all. That wasn’t the case last generation and it certainly isn’t true.