Who Should Go to College?

Glenn Ricketts

That question seems to be on the minds of many higher education watchers these days, and there's an interesting round-table discussion of it over at today's Chronicle of Higher Education. Ashley Thorne also took the measure of it last week when she cited a slew of articles whose authors think too many current college students don't belong there. That's undoubtedly true, but why is it true? From where I'm looking in, not only should many students not matriculate in colleges, they should never have been given their high school dilplomas either. Unfortunately, self-esteem based pedagogy, legions of special education support staff, litigation-minded parents and the presence of a community college in the vicinity, with its open admissions policies, all load the odds heavily in favor of turning out lots of dismally unprepared students. As the numbers of such students increase and the colleges they attend view them as customers to be kept satisfied, the pressure to dilute educational standards continues to work its way upward. As a result, we have one huge mess, from K-12 through the entire collegiate experience. How about this: instead of asking who should attend college, why not consider what educators at that level should demand of all students, irrespective of any other considerations?

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