We Are Raising a Nation of Fools


Forget yesterday's depressing stats on New York's inability to prepare its high school graduates for the future. As it turns out, even if graduates were college-ready, they wouldn't learn much when they got there. Although college enrollment rates have reached historic levels, a recent study shows that more than a third of students showed no improvement in critical-thinking skills. The co-authors of the book Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses followed 2,300 students at 24 universities over the course of four years. Part of the reason for the lack of learning — or lack of skills that help you derive meaning from the information in front of you — is a "decrease in academic rigor." Their study showed 35 percent of students studying five hours per week or less. (Wait, is no one taking Adderall anymore?) Fifty percent also said none of their courses required twenty pages of writing. One possible reason for that? The primary evaluation of faculty performances comes from student evaluations, which tend to reflect the grade students think they'll receive. Co-author and NYU professor Richard Arum told NPR:

"If you go out and talk to college freshmen today, they tell you something very interesting. Many of them will say the following: 'I thought college and university was going to be harder than high school, and my gosh, it turned out it's easier.'"

Yikes. That probably sounds like a real danger to society — to the five people left who are able to form a thought.

A Lack Of Rigor Leaves Students 'Adrift' In College [NPR]