In their seminal book Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses, the authors Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa analyzed data for more than 2300 students and concluded that the undergraduate students are not learning much in the first two years of college. Their critical thinking, complex reasoning, and writing skills do not show a significant improvement for almost 50% of students as measured by the CLA (Collegiate Learning Assessment). They have presented several reasons including lower socio-economic status of some families, low expectations of instructors, lower standards of teaching and assessment, and on-campus activities.
Another major factor for the low performance in college is that their schools didn’t prepare them well for college. The academic requirements progressively get rigorous in college and critical thinking, reasoning, and writing skills become very important in every field of study. In the article Destined to Fail on The Pope Center for Higher Education Policy, the author presents evidence that the schools are not preparing their students for success in college as indicated by the ACT and SAT scores of high school seniors.
I’m not a big fan of ACT, SAT, or any standardized test, but ACT, in their benchmark studies, have identified certain test areas (english composition, algebra, and biology) on which a good score is an indicator of their success in similar courses in college. Sounds plausible.
“The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 2.2 million freshmen started college in the United States last fall. If recent trends continue, more than a third of them will not have a diploma six years later—and few of those will ever complete college.”
This is a shocking statistic. The preparation for college should start in schools, which is not happening. There could be myriad of reasons, but as the blue collar jobs vanish, it is of utmost importance that we prepare our kids in school so that they succeed in college and life.