What's the Value of Freshman Composition Courses?

George Leef

There are no doubt some freshman composition courses where the students have to do a lot of serious writing and that writing is subjected to careful scrutiny by the professor. That kind of course seems to be a vanishing breed, though. The norm today is probably closer to the course described here by the Pope Center's intern, Ashley Russell. Her composition course at the University of North Carolina was, she says, a waste of time. Would students who wanted to improve their writing buy a course like this in a stand-alone, free market transaction? I don't think so. The waste of time and money occurs because universities sell bundles of courses and many students focus on the end result -- the degree. And our heavy reliance on third-party funding for college further erodes the connection between the value of the service and compensation for the work. Adam Smith once noted that when professors were paid directly by students, they did a much better job than when paid by the school. If we want more educational benefit for the time and money spent, don't we need to get back to such arrangements?

  • Share

Most Commented

May 15, 2015

1.

Where Did We Get the Idea That Only White People Can Be Racist?

A look at the double standard that has arisen regarding racism, illustrated recently by the reaction to a black professor's biased comments on Twitter....

December 22, 2020

2.

From John David to David Acevedo: Why I’m Leaving Behind My NAS Pseudonym for Good

In this piece, NAS Communications & Research Associate David Acevedo, formerly known as John David, recounts why he chose to write pseudonymously and why he has decided to go public...

February 17, 2021

3.

New ACLU Head Has a Civil Rights Problem Back Home

Deborah Archer is the new president of the American Civil Liberties Union, but she doesn't exactly have a history of protecting civil rights at her other workplace, NYU Law....

Most Read

May 15, 2015

1.

Where Did We Get the Idea That Only White People Can Be Racist?

A look at the double standard that has arisen regarding racism, illustrated recently by the reaction to a black professor's biased comments on Twitter....

February 17, 2021

2.

How Many Confucius Institutes Are in the United States?

UPDATED 2/17/2021: We're keeping track of all Confucius Institutes in the United States, including those that remain open, those that closed, and those that have announced their clo...

March 2, 2021

3.

Tracking "Cancel Culture" in Higher Education

UPDATED 3/2/21: A repository of 128 administrators, professors, and students who have been "canceled" for expressing views deemed unacceptable by higher education ideologue...