Sunday, November 06, 2011

Two articles on the problems of College/University in the USA

The new York Review of Books has an excellent article which surveys recent books about our universities. As the parent of a soon-to-be-college-age child I am getting increasingly interested in this. I liked this balanced article which doesn't leap to conclusions about the obvious problems with the university system in the USA.

All this to pay for an education that—as we have already seen—means little, intellectually, to many of those who are courting debtors’ prison to pay for it. The unkindest cut of all, of course, is that those who drop out must still carry the full burden of the loans that so many of them have taken out—even though they will, in all probability, earn less and fare worse in hard times than graduates. Yet even unemployment among graduates has been rising—as have rates of student loan default.
Meanwhile the NYT has an article on why Science and Engineering degrees are too hard. Unfortunately it seems that those subjects that are useful after you leave college actually require more work:
The latest research also suggests that there could be more subtle problems at work, like the proliferation of grade inflation in the humanities and social sciences, which provides another incentive for students to leave STEM majors. It is no surprise that grades are lower in math and science, where the answers are clear-cut and there are no bonus points for flair. Professors also say they are strict because science and engineering courses build on one another, and a student who fails to absorb the key lessons in one class will flounder in the next.

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