The dumbing down of college for the uninterested
Published: Wednesday, March 6, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, March 6, 2013 02:03
We go to college to learn, to grow, and to gain experience that will help us function in the world and in a career.
In the past decade or so, however, a college education has shifted from being about learning and challenge to being about earning a degree, and the quality of education has suffered.
Institutions of higher education have turned into high-priced diploma factories where student can earn degrees without really learning anything.
A study by the National Survey of Student Engagement revealed that an average college student in 1961 dedicated about 24 hours a week to academics outside of class, while the average student in 2003 only dedicated 14.
Critics can grouch that this is due to the laziness and privilege of younger generations, but really the blame
lies with universities and on society.
No matter how much we complain, college quite simply isn’t all that challenging.
There are so many college classes that encourage, more than anything, completion of work over actually learning.
Classes about complicated subjects like philosophy, literature, or political theory gear themselves towards students who have no interest in deeply understanding these things.
They focus more on practical application (how does this relate to your life?) and broad surface-level memorization, than on serious theory or in-depth research.
This is a result of many factors. The ever-rising cost of college is a hot topic that nothing has really been done about.
Absurdly high tuition combined with overly extensive GenEd requirements forces many students to work full time in college while taking five or six classes at once, most of which are not in subjects that interest them or relate to their career plans.
If a class doesn’t feel interesting or relevant, a busy student is less likely to put
substantial effort into it.
Sure, there is value in a balanced education, but that is really what high school should be for.
College should be a time for students to focus on gaining in-depth knowledge about topics they care about instead of spending thousands of dollars on courses that they don’t value.
Cramming classes full of students who are only taking them to fulfill a requirement devalues the topic to students who are truly interested in it.
Students’ reasons for attending college are diverse.
Walk into a given room on Auraria campus, and you’ll find people who’ve returned to college after years in the workforce, 18-year-olds who are in college because it’s what they’re supposed to do, and non-degree seekers attempting to broaden their minds and experiences.
Unfortunately, most careers do require degrees, and poor education is better than no education.
It’s unlikely that universities will change their structures; the burden lies on the students to prioritize actual education over robotic grade seeking.