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New Study Shows College Students Academically Adrift

New Study Shows College Students “Academically Adrift”

As bright-eyed eighteen year-olds, we pack up boxes of our clothes and other possessions, load it into our wood paneled hatchback station wagons, wave goodbye to ma’ and pa’, and head off to college. Once we get there, we expand our minds and learn to think critically, while we kick the hacky sack around and discuss Immanuel Kant. Right? Apparently, college students as a whole essentially learn how to cook Ramen Noodles (delicious) and learn how to make $400 last for an entire month (not a bad skill).

This is according to a widespread and thorough study that showed forty-five percent of students “demonstrated no significant gains in critical thinking, analytical reasoning, and written communications during the first two years of college.” Well, maybe two years just wasn’t enough time to git’ smart and learn to read goodly? Nope. Even after 4 years, a whopping 36% showed absolutely no significant change.

They also found that 32 percent of the students whom they followed did not, in a typical semester, take “any courses with more than 40 pages of reading per week” and that 50 percent “did not take a single course in which they wrote more than 20 pages over the course of the semester.” (I don’t know what classes these were, but I sure wasn’t able to find them at my undergraduate university).

Predictably, this has restarted debate about whether the cost of college is worth it, yada yada yada…

These arguments are closely related to the debate about the high cost of law school and the over-saturated market for lawyers. Again, my problem with these types of studies is that they overgeneralize the idea of “college” (or “law school”). There are hundreds of different universities out there, and the quality of the professors and the level of competition within each student body differs widely.

Of course college is worth it, and if your name doesn’t rhyme with Zark Muckerberg, chances are trying to hit the job market without a Bachelors degree will not have a happy ending. If nothing else, at least you will learn some social skills and the value of shower sandals. So stay in school kids. I’m glad we had this talk.