Urban university entrants not graduating

Education Sector talks specifically about DC universities.

“[I]t’s clear that a great many students are entering urban universities and never completing a degree.”

The reason for this, at least partially, is the lack of preparedness on the part of the students.

These catastrophic failure rates are certainly not all the universities’ fault. The latest UDC schedule of classes shows the fallout of the K–12 district’s historical failure. The math department is offering:

16 sections of “Basic Mathematics”
13 sections of “Introductory Algebra”
9 sections of “General College Math I”
7 sections of “General College Math II”
4 sections of “Intermediate Algebra”
2 sections each of “Pre Calc with Trig I,” “Pre Calc with Trig II,” “Calculus I,” “Calculus II,” and “Calculus III”
1 section each of “Differential Equations,” “Number Theory,” “Linear Algebra,” “Advanced Calculus,” etc.

Any number of high schools in the DC metropolitan area offer proportionately more advanced math. Overall, nearly 70 percent of incoming UDC freshmen need some remediation.

The article offers an explanation for the disparity between HS graduation rates and U graduation rates.

Beyond specific problems of preparation, funding, administration and teaching, the terrible success rates at urban universities reflect the fundamental difference in the way K–12 and college students are viewed. The underlying premise of any conversation about elementary and secondary education is that the schools bear significant responsibility for student success. But the moment a student walks off their high school graduation stage, they are magically transformed in the public eye into a fully actualized adult who bears 100 percent of the burden for any and all educational outcomes that subsequently occur—or don’t occur.

It sounds to me as if Kevin Carey, the author, is arguing that colleges should be responsible for student success, but K-12 has dealt with student success by social promotion. If they hadn’t, then those students coming into college wouldn’t need remediation. I do not think that social promotion in college is the answer.

Students need to know that they know how to do things.

All because of the strange and dangerous idea that educational institutions bear little responsibility for how much their students learn or whether those students earn degrees.

Educational institutions of higher learning should not be responsible for students “learning” when they don’t come to class, don’t do the homework, and won’t do the projects. I am all for working with students who want to learn. (I spent two hours a week outside of class with a single student when I was a part-time adjunct helping her improve her writing.)

I think Carey wants to turn our colleges into the same coddling babysitter system that the high schools are now. I am against that.

Perhaps we should start changing colleges to tech schools where the students are taught practical skills with less of an emphasis on academic information. I am not saying that they shouldn’t be able to learn if they want to. I am saying that they ought to have an alternative to an academic, white collar career, if they want one.

If my a/c repair person can’t write an English paragraph, I don’t care. If my office manager can’t, I am concerned.

Joanne Jacobs suggests that universities “take a hit” by sending the students to community colleges. Thanks a lot, Joanne.

I am not saying the students who want to learn shouldn’t come to my classes. I work out of class a lot with my students. But I don’t want students who think they should get an A because they are paying for the classes (especially when as a taxpayer I am paying more of their tuition than they are). I want students who are willing to work because they want the degree.

Perhaps if we started actually requiring our students in K-12 to come to class (She quotes a NY Times article which explains that NY elementary students miss a month of class.), if we gave them the grades they earned instead of protecting their egos, and we called for personal accountability earlier, we could make a turn around in our K-12 as well as our college classes.

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