Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Higher Education Scam

Finally, the business community is catching on.

Job applicants from America’s colleges and universities present resumes filled with excellent grades. Unfortunately, employers quickly discover that these graduates are radically unprepared for the business world. Their grades were ginned up artificially to ensure that they not feel bad.

Douglas Belkin reports:

Only one in four employers think that two- and four-year colleges are doing a good job preparing students for the global economy, according to a 2010 survey conducted for the Association of American Colleges and Universities.

The solution is an exit test. Graduating seniors will now be offered the option of taking a new test, the College Learning Assessment that will measure what they have learned, objectively.

It resembles the Graduate Record Exam, the test students take if they want to attend graduate school in the humanities and social sciences. Thus, it feels slightly redundant.

Taking the test is voluntary, but those who do well at it will be able to include it in their resumes. In a highly competitive job market, the more employers give a preference to students who do well on the CLA, the more universities will be forced to teach more serious subject matter.

Belkin tells the story:

Next spring, seniors at about 200 U.S. colleges will take a new test that could prove more important to their future than final exams: an SAT-like assessment that aims to cut through grade-point averages and judge students' real value to employers.

A new test for college seniors that aims to be the SAT for prospective employers is the latest blow to the monopoly long-held by colleges and universities on what it means to be well-educated. Doug Belkin and Michael Poliakoff, American Council of Trustees and Alumni V.P. of Policy, discuss on Lunch Break. Photo: AP.

The test, called the Collegiate Learning Assessment, "provides an objective, benchmarked report card for critical thinking skills," said David Pate, dean of the School of Arts and Sciences at St. John Fisher College, a small liberal-arts school near Rochester, N.Y. "The students will be able to use it to go out and market themselves."

The test is part of a movement to find new ways to assess the skills of graduates. Employers say grades can be misleading and that they have grown skeptical of college credentials.

"For too long, colleges and universities have said to the American public, to students and their parents, 'Trust us, we're professional. If we say that you're learning and we give you a diploma it means you're prepared,' " said Michael Poliakoff, vice president of policy for the American Council of Trustees and Alumni. "But that's not true."

Obviously, the American educational system, infected as it is with political correctness and identity politics is no longer preparing students for the real world. Surely, this is one reason that companies feel obliged to move jobs overseas.

Now, the business world is striking back. We will see how it all works out.

Yet, even without the test more and more college students know that degrees in the Humanities, and especially in politically correct studies are a ticket to the unemployment line. More and more of them are trying their hand at STEM subjects and business and finance majors.

The result: the politically correct dimwits who colonized Humanities departments are discovering that no one wants to take their classes any more. They have effectively been “hoist with [their] own petard.”

Speaking of education, The Los Angeles Times has just offered a chilling expose of the downside of affirmative action at the University of California, Berkeley.

Heather MacDonald offers an excellent commentary on the story of Kashawn Campbell. Having graduated first in his class in a Los Angeles inner city school, Campbell was admitted to Berkeley. There he found that that he could not do the work. It wasn't even close.

Campbell’s is sad story indeed. It confirms s point that Thomas Sowell and many others have been making for years. Affirmative action policies produce what What Stuart Taylor called a mismatch.  Putting underprepared minority students in college programs where they cannot do the work might appeal to liberal idealism, but it ends up hurting the students.

The LA Times reports:

He [Campbell] had barely passed an introductory science course. In College Writing 1A, his essays — pockmarked with misplaced words and odd phrases — were so weak that he would have to take the class again.

He had never felt this kind of failure, nor felt this insecure. The second term was just days away and he had a 1.7 GPA. If he didn't improve his grades by school year's end, he would flunk out.

Campbell has a good attitude. He works hard. He is determined to succeed. Yet, he is simply too far behind his classmates to do the required work. His experience with his English comp tutor is poignant and sad.

The experience is demoralizing. It is traumatic. One admires Campbell’s perseverance, but still, one needs to ask why the system needlessly traumatizing young members of minority groups. In truth, this has been going on for decades. Why has it taken so long for the major media to draw back the curtain on what is really happening to these affirmative action applicants.

Keep in mind, Campbell was the best in his high school class. Imagine what the rest of the class was like.

At is happened, Campbell did not flunk out. He got excellent grades in his classes in African-American studies and these pulled his GPA over the 2.0 threshold.

Perhaps he will major in African-American studies and even earn a degree. But, how much will Campbell have learned during his years at Berkeley? How demoralized will he be by the time he graduates? What will an everyday employer see when he looks at Campbell’s academic record?


Ari said...

A couple of thoughts:

1) I doubt a college exit exam will survive legal challenges due to the high probability that it will have a "disparate impact" on certain favored groups. Groups already favored by affirmative action. The test makers or the employers who use the tests will be sued and use of them will stop forthwith. See: Griggs v. Duke Power. It will be repeated.

2) The book "Mismatch" is an excellent expose on how affirmative action works and on how it affects its victims (its victims being its supposed beneficiaries). Suffice it to say that the reality is pretty darn awful.

3) Opponents of affirmative action are going about it all wrong when they sue colleges for having preferences on behalf of white rejects. They ought to sue on behalf of black/hispanic admittees who would have succeeded elsewhere but were admitted to colleges whose demands were too tough for their level of preparation. Having a nice class action or mass tort against colleges is just what the doctor ordered.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Great points... thank you.

n.n said...

Self-esteem without merit. The successive failures in the late 90s was a shining example of its consequences.

Sam L. said...

And who/what business needs or has use for an African-American Studies grad?

Anonymous said...

Sam: A non-profit victim advocacy institute or foundation whose sole purpose is identity politics on behalf of an aggrieved class defining itself by a immutable characteristic such as race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, disability, etc. Scream loud enough about said issues and watch the money roll in. Repeat.

But a competitive, for-profit business that wants to win? No, tey had no eyed or use or such people.


Anonymous said...

Standardized tests are relatively easy to pass if one learns how to study effectively. If the material on the test is somewhat objective measure, and teachers could learn how to prepare students for the tests, then there is some benefit to be gained. However education has been in decline despite the rise of standardized tests.