Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Are you starting college this fall?

OK. Are you "college-ready?"

The executive summary of this article above: Only 37% of New York high schoolers were.

Whereas, statistically, more than 60% and even 70% will attempt college.

It's hard to tell any All-American kid that college is not for them, that they are not going to succeed in college work and either shouldn't start or should hone their skills in community college, when traditional first-year, first time college is often the earliest of life's battles with the system of rewards and employment we have unwittingly created in society.

But after years of college teaching, I wish more folks would follow Matthew Crawford's advice in Shop Class and Soulcraft.

Not only is it probably not going to make a poorly prepared student happy in life, nor make society better-run or a better place to live in, but if a family pressurizes a non-academic kid into college, it's also then really expensive to take a PhD-qualified college teacher, who is capable of teaching advanced science and math, or who can help a student learn to write the best English prose for pleasure or business, and use that very highly qualified person to fix reading, writing, and figuring skills at the most basic level.

Your tax dollars at work, folks. Not to mention enough debt to buy a house.

It makes no sense. If the idea is to set a young person up in life, but if that youth is not interested in books or ideas, then buy them a house.

Or a good set of tools.

Yet it happens every year.

Tens, even hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt ensue for the student and the parents, with little or no prospect of a job at the end, because employers are wise at this point to academic grade inflation and can figure out from transcripts, references and interviews who has actually mastered the material of a college education.

The days when all The Bachelor Justin Hoffman needed was a sport coat and a diploma to be taken seriously as a candidate for leadership in society are well and truly over.

I also wish students and parents would remember that a BS degree is a Bachelor of Science degree, and that if the student is not reading and comprehending ordinary science literature, primary papers, secondary books and tertiary textbooks, with full-on math and statistics, by the end of their third year of college, then they are not actually making the grade as a Bachelor of Science, nor, therefore are they spending their money wisely.

They also should be able to structure a basic research or applied science problem, and at least the introductory inquiry into that problem, with little help from their professors.

One high point of teaching at Unity College is the larger and larger number of non-traditional students and transfer students we are getting each year. The success rate for these students is much greater, and the friction required to make them face up to college-level material is much less. Much larger numbers succeed.

This is simply because most transfer students, by definition students that have already attempted some college somewhere else, by this key point in their lives, actually want to learn, and are not being forced by their parents or "the system" to be there.

Amen for that.

Now we're on the same page, the student and I.

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