College life today has much to do with fun, food and frivolities—time out from the real world where success demands one’s time, attention, effort and competitive ability. Five or six years at the academy offers mostly respite from serious thinking, hard work and learning to be a fully educated person—often at the expense of others. Of course, some students take learning seriously, but the greater student body takes the low road offered by our universities to increase the body count.
Most ratings of colleges base criteria on faculty degrees, money spent, class sizes and other factors irrelevant to a good college education. A StarNews article recently cited the University of North Carolina at Wilmington named in a top 50 “best value” public school by the Princeton Review and the top 100 “best value” schools listed in Kiplinger’s Personal Finance. I don’t know what criteria were used to arrive at “best value,” but very likely a solid core curriculum of “general education”* wasn’t in the lineup.
According to the StarNews, an online database (RateMyProfessors.com) by students ranked UNCW 14th on a list of 25 top universities. The information at this site includes “student feedback.” One can easily guess what’s most important to students. Criteria included: “reputation, location, career opportunities, campus food, clubs and events, social activities and whether or not the student is happy with the decision to attend.” However, opportunity for academic learning should be the most important criterion.
A Pope Center for Higher Education Policy (popecenter.org) survey ranked 48 of North Carolina’s 54 accredited colleges and universities on general education requirements and graded them A to F. Catalogs were reviewed to identify schools that require composition, economics, foreign language, literature, mathematics, science and U. S. history or government. Only Wingate University received a grade of A. One third of the schools received a C grade, including UNCW. Eleven received a D.
Most of us would agree with the often touted mantra: “importance of education.” However, when nearly half of our institutions of “higher” learning have academic ratings of mediocre or poor, we must wonder about the real “value” of the money being spent at them?
Students and parents can get assistance to select a college on the Pope Center’s new interactive website NCCollegeFinder.org.
* (Jenna Ashley Robinson in the Carolina Journal defines the term as helping students “develop a spirit of inquiry, logical thinking, and a regard for the proper evaluation of evidence.”)Read full article » No Comments »