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Why Aren’t We Learning In College?

Submitted by on January 21, 2011 – 11:53 am3 Comments
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“Man, I love college / And I love drinking / I love women / Man, I love college”—Asher Roth

A new study shows less than half of college students show significant improvement in skills such as critical thinking, reading, and writing as a result of a college education.

The numbers are staggering. During the first two years of higher learning, about 45% of respondents had shown absolutely no progress in their these skills. Over the next two years, only 36% indicated significant growth in these areas.

This study is certainly cause for concern, especially when one considers the ever-increasing costs of college tuition. We’re paying more money than ever for an education that helps us a great deal less than any generation seems to have ever known.

So where does the blame go?

Most of it should sit squarely on the shoulders of the students themselves. Yes, I said it. Students set their own schedules. Many have poor study habits and spend most of their study time within a group instead of going over things they don’t understand with a study group and then spending time alone studying.

For many college students, learning is the least of their concerns. The study shows students spend 51% of their time socializing, leaving a minority share of their time for studying or reading. This is a reality I come to grips with everyday. I dare anyone to go to a college campus and attempt to find a true intellectual exchange taking place. Outside of the classroom, it’s not as easy as one might think.

Today’s student looks at college as one big party—isn’t that how college is depicted in mainstream media? We as students tend to seek high GPAs over actual learned skills and material, a practice we develop in lower levels of schooling. Finally, we tell ourselves it’s not what we know, but who we know that will get us hired. With that mantra in mind, we set out to meet as many people as we can with academic performance and intellectual development as distant afterthoughts.

Bottom line: No one can make this generation take learning seriously. What the facts and figures show is that we have a tendency to be undisciplined. There’s nothing wrong with being social or having a “balance.” The problem is our balance has shifted from what we learned last year to what we did last night.

There’s a big world out there, beyond the walls of the residence halls. If college is supposed to prepare us for it but we spend our time doing all but preparing, I have to wonder if we’re wasting valuable time.

Source: California’s Children

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