College not all it’s cracked up to be for high school graduates

In a previous post we looked at research about how public schools don’t prepare kids for college. However, it’s not just before college that’s the problem. After public school kids arrive at college there are some problems as well, beyond the remedial classes discussed in the last post.

Three of every four students in one survey (pdf) told surveyors that they thought college would provide them with substantial support to help them cope with academics, non-academic responsibilities and help them enrich their social life. In other words, these students expect some major hand-holding through college. Over 50% said college did no such thing.

Many students who start college never finish. Research shows that just half of students who enroll in college end up with a bachelor’s degree. This creates a financial issue too as one study (pdf) shows that college dropouts amount to $4.5 billion in lost earnings and taxes to state and federal governments across the nation.

One recent study of more than 2,300 undergraduate college students found that around 45% failed to demonstrate any significant improvement in learning during the first two years of college. A book based on the research, Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses, and its accompanying report, specifically notes that 36% of students showcased no significant gains in critical thinking, complex reasoning and written communication over all four years of college and that 1/3 of all college students never took a class requiring them to read even 40 pages per week. The report goes on to show that most students who did experience grade improvements over high school, did so only modestly.

+ Why universities are failing

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