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Article about the effect of adjuncts on higher education


chiguirre
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I don't think I even considered the food quality in my university choice, and I don't know anyone that did. I find that idea pretty odd for most people with no really special dietary restrictions. I did find it annoying when I thought the contractor was actually not living up to their contract which I had paid for, but that seems to be a bit different to me.  If the food was actually going to make someone sick and had bugs, that would qualify as a problem IMO.  (Although, I was admittedly charmed by the dress code for formal meals.  But I think because it seemed to speak to a perception of the institution as an academic community.)

 

I think people get a bit muddled sometimes about what they are supposed to be looking at when considering a school.  High school students can understand meal plans and wifi in rooms so they focus on that rather than on real academic questions.  And since many universities are being run as businesses, they are willing to take advantage of that.

 

 

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I do think that one major thing people look for in universities is reputation.  If/when universities start to graduate idiots, people will notice and the schools reputation will suffer.    When the reputation goes down, the quality of their applicants and those that attend will go down.  Unless of course the standards go down across the board, which might be happening.  

 

It might be that the adjuncts can do a fine job teaching.   But, it seems to me that if universities aren't spending the money on real education, then the real education will suffer.  

 

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I just returned from work and had to laugh to myself as the conversation in the adjunct office was all about student retention and how thankful some of the adjuncts are that they have only had a few students drop this semester. The remaining conversation was about sending out failing notices and figuring out how to keep the borderline students from failing so 'the numbers' will look good.

 

That's the focus: keeping the numbers up for retention rates. Not teaching. Not education.

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The remaining conversation was about sending out failing notices and figuring out how to keep the borderline students from failing so 'the numbers' will look good.

 

That's the focus: keeping the numbers up for retention rates. Not teaching. Not education.

 

... and there we have it.

 

Which brings me to another of my rabbit trails: a data-driven culture. Our desire to measure things that don't come in measurable units. We are like Descartes with his "Cogito ergo." It worked for Euclid so just maybe it work work for everything else...

 

Before you know it, you are measuring student "success" which always makes me giggle when I see the measurement. I find myself imagining what it would be like to name a success unit. You know, if you really wanted to nail it down. Inch, meters, tons - all pretty randomly simple in form and name. Would a success unit be a Buffet or a Theresa? An Einstein or a Gandhi? OK, OK, so that's too hard. Let's just make it a percentage. Our student success rate is 74% or maybe we have a 68% Freshman retention rate. What does that even mean? In the end, it means that we were able to convince 68% of the new kids from the fall to buy our product again. 

 

That's all it really means. And it might mean something more if that just happened as a result of the quality of the product, but we all know that's not the case anymore. As soon as you start really looking at something, do you change the nature of it?

 

Maybe physics and quantum mechanics illuminate more than we thought...

 

Peace,

Janice

 

Enjoy your little people

Enjoy your journey

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I do think that one major thing people look for in universities is reputation.  If/when universities start to graduate idiots, people will notice and the schools reputation will suffer.    When the reputation goes down, the quality of their applicants and those that attend will go down.  Unless of course the standards go down across the board, which might be happening.  

 

It might be that the adjuncts can do a fine job teaching.   But, it seems to me that if universities aren't spending the money on real education, then the real education will suffer.  

 

I think maybe it is across the board, or so much so that the effect is the same.

 

Though - it might be that it actually happened the other way around.

 

I'm not sure how to put this without it sounding hopelessly elitist, though that is surely NOT how I mean it - but I think there is really a connection with the increase in the % of the population that is attending university.  There seems at one time to have been an idea that this would result in a more educated population, in the broad sense of the word education.

 

I'm not sure that has happened, and I wonder if it wasn't an inevitability.  I have no doubt there were people before that who did not have access but would have really done well with the opportunity to go to university.  But it seems to me like a large group are people who were always more interested in practical education and have attended university mainly because that is now the place for that kind of education.  Not because they are especially looking to become educated in a larger sense.

 

I would not call such people idiots as a group, but I think it has meant that they public perception of what the university is supposed to do, the kinds of students it should turn out, has changed for many or even most people.  We think it makes perfect sense for a university to produce a technically competent engineer who knows nothing about literature or how the political system works.

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We think it makes perfect sense for a university to produce a technically competent engineer who knows nothing about literature or how the political system works.

 

Hmm.  It's tough to get through an engineering program in 4 years.  Would you rather (a) produce incompetent engineers, (b) lengthen the years in college so that the engineers can study literature and politics as well, or © something else?

 

 

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We think it makes perfect sense for a university to produce a technically competent engineer who knows nothing about literature or how the political system works.

 

And yet we get many who are upset that medical doctors have to get a 4 year degree in something before they are accepted to medical school.  "Why don't we copy other countries and just let them go to med school???"

 

No one can know everything.  Few care to know about everything.  Our minds aren't equipped to be experts on all subjects (even if some think they, personally, are).

 

I'm ok with everyone getting a basic education - perhaps to 8th or 9th grade (though this would include politics) - and after that letting folks go where they like, when they like.  For engineers and doctors, they would need more high school education first, of course.  For farmers?  Not necessarily.  It's an option, not a forced attempt to get them to learn Chemistry.

 

I also actually like our country's system for doctors in wanting that 4 year degree first, just because I want to know anyone touching my body has enough intelligence to handle a 4 year degree of their choosing.  I don't care if it's Literature or Engineering though (or anything else).

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Hmm.  It's tough to get through an engineering program in 4 years.  Would you rather (a) produce incompetent engineers, (b) lengthen the years in college so that the engineers can study literature and politics as well, or © something else?

 

d) give the students a quality high school education that teaches every college bound student literature, two foreign languages, math through calculus, three basic sciences - and then use university to specialize. 12 years should suffice for a broad general education that enable the young person to be an informed citizen who is able to make well founded choices in life.

 

As it is, I'd rather have engineers who spent more years in school and can write good English and are informed about the world, as opposed to engineers who are ignorant of global issues and cannot put together a decent paragraph.

 

ETA: The engineering majors at our college are required to take two semesters of composition: general argumentation, and research  writing. DS  is currently taking comp 1 and is appalled with how little interest students approach a class that is trying to teach them a foundational skill. I am advisor for our department, and it irritates me to hear my advisees gripe about the gen ed requirements. Yes, even if you are a physicist, you should be at least somewhat informed about literature. And what irritates me most is that some are almost boasting how they find reading boring and cannot stay awake reading actual literature... pride in ignorance is not something I will ever be able to understand.

And honestly, seeing the weak high school standards, I don't think the gen ed requirements of most colleges are nearly enough to produce what I would consider generally well educated graduates.

Edited by regentrude
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But is the answer to make everyone take what should remedial high school classes while in college?    

Won't it be better to have high school graduates be educated?   

 

I agree with Creekland.  It used to be that a High School education meant something.  Now it only means that you showed up more often than not.  I fear that a college degree is going the same way.  

 

Universities could better screen the applicants.  For example, they could require a genuine test before admission.   Theoretically they could get an idea of the applicant's writing ability by looking at what was actually written in the writing portion, instead of ignoring it as I've heard most do.   

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d) give the students a quality high school education that teaches every college bound student literature, two foreign languages, math through calculus, three basic sciences - and then use university to specialize. 12 years should suffice for a broad general education that enable the young person to be an informed citizen who is able to make well founded choices in life.

 

Based upon our exchange students (both IRL and what they tell me about education in their countries), this happens for all students... nowhere.  

 

Sure, one can get credits in all the above if they are college bound, but from what I've seen IRL and what they tell me happens, only the top kids actually accomplish it all well - just like in this country (except for the languages part - the US definitely doesn't put any support behind learning languages).  When the German exchange student who lived with us came here she was supposedly ready for Calculus, but yet she had never seen a Trig function.  They were in the back of her book (she thought), but they never got that far in class.  (She had also never studied planets or weather or similar things that are common here.)

 

She did fine in math (because I was able to help her with some of those things), but only ended up with a 3 on the AP Calc test - partially due to as poor of a foundation as other kids getting 3s.

 

One other thing she mentioned was kids sitting next to each other collaborating for the written tests.  "You study the first half and I'll study the second."  At her school, this was common.  She's not the only one who shared such things with me.

 

Kids are kids everywhere.

 

The closest I've seen to a "sort of" solid education was our Chinese student. He knew math very solidly and went on into engineering.  The one thing he seemed to be lacking (overall) to me was the ability to think independently.  His education was strong on memorizing, but weak on independent thought.  He was only a data point of one though, so it could have been just him.  (I don't really think so based on what he told me about his school, but we've had German exchange students annually, sometimes more than one.  He was our only Chinese exchange student.)

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Yes, I think it is entirely possible to produce really educated engineers and doctors without somehow causing problems.  There was at one time an expectation that professionals of all types would have that kind of general education, and while some was from the pre-university years, it was by no means only those years. 

 

There is a good reason doctors, lawyers, academics, and other people with similar careers were seen as people who needed to be educated, and not just people practicing a technical trade.  Those are all careers where people are likely to be community leaders, and are likely to be in a position to make decisions about and need to consider issues beyond the technical requirements of their trades.

 

I regularly hear people say that questions about things like scientific questions or medical controversies should be mainly answered by those who are technically proficient in those subjects.  But do we really want to look to someone who knows the mechanics of the body for especially useful thoughts on the likely consequences or ethics of difficult questions?  Do we engineers or even architects who don't know any history to be giving direction about things like building policy or city planning?  Is someone like that really the best person to help an individual with his or her problem?

 

It's been my experience as well that someone with a poor general education is generally less competent at their specialization - different ways of thinking and disciplines are not so separate as people sometimes think.  It's important to have some perspective about where your area of expertise sits in the world of knowledge more generally.

 

I also just don't accept that it is so impossible to accomplish this, even with rather poor high schools.  I attended a liberal arts college where all students, no matter what they went on to, spent their first year getting a solid general education and writing skills.  They might not have come out as experts, but they did have a very good sense of what the breadth of human ideas and history had produced, their world was larger in that sense, and they could write and express themselves clearly.

 

I don't have much time for people complaining about general ed requirements or giving them lip service.

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Based upon our exchange students (both IRL and what they tell me about education in their countries), this happens for all students... nowhere.  

 

Sure, one can get credits in all the above if they are college bound, but from what I've seen IRL and what they tell me happens, only the top kids actually accomplish it all well - just like in this country (except for the languages part - the US definitely doesn't put any support behind learning languages).  When the German exchange student who lived with us came here she was supposedly ready for Calculus, but yet she had never seen a Trig function.  They were in the back of her book (she thought), but they never got that far in class.  (She had also never studied planets or weather or similar things that are common here.)

 

She did fine in math (because I was able to help her with some of those things), but only ended up with a 3 on the AP Calc test - partially due to as poor of a foundation as other kids getting 3s.

 

One other thing she mentioned was kids sitting next to each other collaborating for the written tests.  "You study the first half and I'll study the second."  At her school, this was common.  She's not the only one who shared such things with me.

 

Kids are kids everywhere.

 

The closest I've seen to a "sort of" solid education was our Chinese student. He knew math very solidly and went on into engineering.  The one thing he seemed to be lacking (overall) to me was the ability to think independently.  His education was strong on memorizing, but weak on independent thought.  He was only a data point of one though, so it could have been just him.  (I don't really think so based on what he told me about his school, but we've had German exchange students annually, sometimes more than one.  He was our only Chinese exchange student.)

 

I don't really know what all kids have to do with it, if we are talking about kids that are getting a university degree.  Anyone who is capable of getting a degree in engineering or medicine should be capable of a broad general education.

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Based upon our exchange students (both IRL and what they tell me about education in their countries), this happens for all students... nowhere.  

 

but it could - if my small, economically weak, communist home country managed to give me that kind of education in a public school (with the caveat that, for political reasons, our history education was biased - but we were aware of it), I don't see why a stinking rich country like the US cannot have better schools.

 

And  -off topic- I believe I might have asked you before: from which Bundesland (ie state) was your German exchange student with the pitiful math education? Education is a state matter in Germany, and there are significant differences. There is a reason we cannot agree on a standardized-for-the-entire-country high school final exam, since the weak states balk at the requirements of the strong states and the strong states don't want their abitur watered down by the low standards of the red states. But I digress....

Edited by regentrude
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Another option might be just taking an upfront position that some areas of expertise are really trades, and stop giving people university degrees for them.  You can find the world's greatest chef or mason, who is an expert, even an innovator or genius, but we don't generally give degrees in those specializations and they don't tend to come from universities.  Your chef or mason might be well educated but that isn't likely to be related to is or her technical education.

 

A university degree has been seen as elite education because it is about more than that, the expectation is for an educated graduate.

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Universities could better screen the applicants.  For example, they could require a genuine test before admission.   Theoretically they could get an idea of the applicant's writing ability by looking at what was actually written in the writing portion, instead of ignoring it as I've heard most do.   

 

Then many colleges wouldn't have any qualified applicants.  There are too many colleges and already we are seeing some of them fail.  This is probably a good thing.  

 

Since a college education in general isn't always a marker of an educated person, we strain for admission to name schools because that ostensibly means you met some minimum level achievement.  

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<snip>

 

Universities could better screen the applicants.  For example, they could require a genuine test before admission.   Theoretically they could get an idea of the applicant's writing ability by looking at what was actually written in the writing portion, instead of ignoring it as I've heard most do.   

 

Isn't this the reason behind the ACT, SAT, and the SAT subject tests? These tests are supposed to give an accurate representation of an applicant's basic ability and readiness; that's why every high school junior takes the ACT. Yet people balk at these tests, call them unfair, and try to get out of taking them. Many college's and universities are now making such tests optional citing a disparity in an applicant's ability to test and the unfairness of the tests themselves.

 

What would better screening techniques look like? Would they be universal?

 

I also don't want to sound elitist but I agree that there needs to be a benchmark for individuals interested in pursuing higher education. Hypothetically speaking, should a person with a 14 or 15 on the ACT be expected to take a full load of undergraduate courses and maintain the minimum academic standards? Most students with low ACT scores don't have that ability but we push them to enroll in community colleges, state unis, etc and then wonder why they struggle. So we create multiple offices for a variety of student support services because, by golly, everyone needs to go to college and everyone needs a diploma. To tie it back to the original post, perhaps the issue isn't with over worked and underpaid adjuncts, perhaps the issue is that we are attempting to educate students who simply do not have the wherewithall, ability, or desire to work at a collegiate level.

 

I think there is a big difference between making higher education available to everyone who wants it and making everyone believe they need to have a college education.

Edited by Scoutermom
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Isn't this the reason behind the ACT, SAT, and the SAT subject tests? These tests are supposed to give an accurate representation of an applicant's basic ability and readiness; that's why every high school junior takes the ACT. Yet people balk at these tests, call them unfair, and try to get out of taking them. Many college's and universities are now making such tests optional citing a disparity in an applicant's ability to test and the unfairness of the tests themselves.

 

What would better screening techniques look like? Would they be universal?

 

I also don't want to sound elitist but I agree that there needs to be a benchmark for individuals interested in pursuing higher education. Hypothetically speaking, should a person with a 14 or 15 on the ACT be expected to take a full load of undergraduate courses and maintain the minimum academic standards? Most students with low ACT scores don't have that ability but we push them to enroll in community colleges, state unis, etc and then wonder why they struggle. So we create multiple offices for a variety of student support services because, by golly, everyone needs to go to college and everyone needs a diploma. To tie it back to the original post, perhaps the issue isn't with over worked and underpaid adjuncts, perhaps the issue is that we are attempting to educate students who simply do not have the wherewithall, ability, or desire to work at a collegiate level.

 

I think there is a big difference between making higher education available to everyone who wants it and making everyone believe they need to have a college education.

best post award for this topic  :iagree:

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I don't really know what all kids have to do with it, if we are talking about kids that are getting a university degree.  Anyone who is capable of getting a degree in engineering or medicine should be capable of a broad general education.

 

I was talking about all college bound students - mentioned at the beginning of my second paragraph.

 

but it could - if my small, economically weak, communist home country managed to give me that kind of education in a public school (with the caveat that, for political reasons, our history education was biased - but we were aware of it), I don't see why a stinking rich country like the US cannot have better schools.

 

And  -off topic- I believe I might have asked you before: from which Bundesland (ie state) was your German exchange student with the pitiful math education? Education is a state matter in Germany, and there are significant differences. There is a reason we cannot agree on a standardized-for-the-entire-country high school final exam, since the weak states balk at the requirements of the strong states and the strong states don't want their abitur watered down by the low standards of the red states. But I digress....

 

The exchange student who lived with us was from Lower Saxony.  We've had exchange students at our school from many different states.  As with our own local kids, some have been really talented and learned/processed things well.  Others were more average - for our college bound kids.  None have compared to our non-college bound, but that's to be expected for exchange students, esp coming from Germany where others are out of school by what is our senior year.

 

I've come to decide that all countries have a range of schools - the US included.  I went to a private high school for one year that was right up there with the top of top schools I suspect.  My other three years of high school were at a really good public high school in a small city located in a very rural area.  Kids from my graduating class went to impressive schools and are doing impressive things.  (Of course, this public school also had the full range of students, some of whom didn't go to college - the private school only had top kids.)  I've worked for 16 years at an average school.  There's a huge difference between top and average.  I can only imagine what below average looks like (shudder).

 

In the real world, I think this happens pretty much everywhere just like the ability (and desire) to learn is a bell curve.  In an ideal world, all kids would be able to get an education according to their ability (and desires), but we live in the real world.

 

I'm glad the US has community colleges and remedial classes available so kids who didn't get a college prep education (due to location or desire) are able to catch up later if they want to.

 

That said, I also don't mind that my superb level engineering hubby didn't have to take any History classes while in college.  He did have to take Urban Planning, etc, since he's Civil Engineering, but no, I don't think ALL college grads need oodles of Gen Eds.  I'm not a Lit person myself, so am glad I got by with one semester of English (AP'd out of the other).  Middle son goes to a college without Gen Eds.  That's one of the perks of his school that we both really like.  My other two have chosen LACs, so they have Gen Eds.  They might have a broader education (that is useful), but it comes at the expense of being able to study more of what they really like.  I'm glad students in the US get a choice.  We let our guys make their own choices.

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Nothing to do with adjuncts, but a quick "Business Report" on NBC News this morning stated that working class white males with just a high school education saw their income fall 9% over the past 20 years.  During the same time period white college educated men saw their income rise 23%.  Someone with more time ought to be able to google and come up with a link with that report and/or data so we can see more about it all.

 

There's no big surprise that so many are pushing to get college degrees.  Now if only we can figure out how to get interested students college ready.

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Isn't this the reason behind the ACT, SAT, and the SAT subject tests? These tests are supposed to give an accurate representation of an applicant's basic ability and readiness; that's why every high school junior takes the ACT. Yet people balk at these tests, call them unfair, and try to get out of taking them. Many college's and universities are now making such tests optional citing a disparity in an applicant's ability to test and the unfairness of the tests themselves.

 

What would better screening techniques look like? Would they be universal?

 

I also don't want to sound elitist but I agree that there needs to be a benchmark for individuals interested in pursuing higher education. Hypothetically speaking, should a person with a 14 or 15 on the ACT be expected to take a full load of undergraduate courses and maintain the minimum academic standards? Most students with low ACT scores don't have that ability but we push them to enroll in community colleges, state unis, etc and then wonder why they struggle. So we create multiple offices for a variety of student support services because, by golly, everyone needs to go to college and everyone needs a diploma. To tie it back to the original post, perhaps the issue isn't with over worked and underpaid adjuncts, perhaps the issue is that we are attempting to educate students who simply do not have the wherewithall, ability, or desire to work at a collegiate level.

 

I think there is a big difference between making higher education available to everyone who wants it and making everyone believe they need to have a college education.

 

Yes, totally, about making everyone think they need college education.

 

I do think there is a link between the question of adjuncts and the problems of whether universities are actually producing educated people.

 

For me, both speak to the transformation in understanding of what a university is and does, and the question of how and why we fund and support them.  And in our case, I would say that understanding hasn't been improved, it's been degraded and left a real hole in our cultural institutions.

 

Historically the main purpose of the university was for scholars to have a place, and resources, to work - to think about the big questions.  That's why society, through government or the church, supported universities, and why faculty members have been given certain kinds of privileges like tenure, and why their work has been subject to particular kinds of traditions and practices.  The idea wasn't just to benefit these people privately but for their scholarship to serve humanity as a whole, the idea being that knowledge and wisdom are good things in themselves, a high calling.

 

The teaching of students was secondary in the sense that there wasn't a point if the primary social function wasn't happening.  Faculty taught students to create new scholars, but also in order to begin to disseminate their new ideas to society at a wider level - people who would not become scholars but would be leaders in society or have other important roles could benefit from the work of the university.

 

It was after the war that universities were flooded suddenly with a lot more people, and there were a number of reasons for that, not all bad.  And then particularly in the 60s there was a move by many governments to try and get a very large % of the population to go to university.  Partly I think as a back-door way to erase class distinctions but largely because they thought it would improve the economy.  And that is what people were told - get a university education, make more money, have more economic stability, get a job working at a desk instead of using your body, improve your social status. 

 

Universities jumped at this, too, because they believed in education for all but also I think because they thought that this would be a great source of funding.  Well, that has turned out to be a devil's bargain.

 

In practice though, it's turned out poorly for the universities as institutions and really impinged their ability to fulfill their primary function - the pursuit of knowledge and wisdom.  The fact that it took almost a page for anyone to point out that a real problem with widespread use of adjuncts is that they are not actually doing a big part of the job that a faculty member does (research type work) is symptomatic of that.  We treat them, and fund them, both at a society level and as individuals, as a means to a fairly simple economic end.

 

There have always been ways that people band together for what amounts to job training - apprentices, on the job training, trade and technical schools.  What we've done is turn the university into just another variation of that, and we've increasingly lost the idea that it might be really important to have a segment of society with a different kind of education or whose job is to focus on that kind of education.  And we've made it very hard for many universities to provide that because we fund them as economic producers which creates a conflict of interest.

 

So - we have people graduating with a degree who just aren't educated.  We have many people who want to be scholars but can only get part time teaching work and don't actually get to do any scholarship.  We have students who don't see why it matters. We have universities that have lots of money to fund things that seem likely to produce economic advantage (especially for private sources) but little money to actually give a wider education.  And that are so desperate for students that they will organize their institutions simply to attract them, whether or not it undermines their educational function (they need to keep the money coming in to support all that infrastructure they've built.)

 

 

I tend to agree that more testing isn't the answer - it doesn't seem to really make a difference in improving the quality of students.  FWIW here in Canada it isn't usual to have people use standardized tests for university admissions and it doesn't seem to affect the quality of the students.

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The exchange student who lived with us was from Lower Saxony.  We've had exchange students at our school from many different states.  As with our own local kids, some have been really talented and learned/processed things well.  Others were more average - for our college bound kids.  None have compared to our non-college bound, but that's to be expected for exchange students, esp coming from Germany where others are out of school by what is our senior year.

 

I've come to decide that all countries have a range of schools - the US included. ...

In the real world, I think this happens pretty much everywhere just like the ability (and desire) to learn is a bell curve. 

 

There will always be underperforming students, bad teachers, bad schools , but I see a crucial difference in a system that makes it possible for "high schools" not even having to offer upper level subjects.

Yes, not all students in Germany will thoroughly master calculus, and not every teacher will teach if efficiently, but every high school is required to teach calculus and physics, and every college bound student has to take the high school exit exam in several subjects.

In my classes here, I see students whose schools did not even offer calculus or physics at all, or where those subjects were taught by teachers without qualifications -it is pitiful that this is allowed. (But we recently discussed this in another thread)

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.

 

There's no big surprise that so many are pushing to get college degrees. Now if only we can figure out how to get interested students college ready.

The elites have defined the path here. Full inclusion, graduate high school in 3 if you dont have the means to afterschool, homeschool, or transport your 16 yr old to the CC instead of having your kid sit in study hall or art for 5 periods of 12th grade. At the CC, take the courses that used to be offered in 11th and 12th, or plunge right into college lite. You will find out later that its really a 2:3 program, because the lite classes arent going to transfer in to your major at the U.

We are seeing disasters amongst those friends of our sons that were not afterschooled. One kid that went straight to Jesuit college flunked out...went to the CC Honors program next and has a 4.0 as the courses are taught at the (old) 8th grade level. Mom didnt realize how dumbed down high school was compared to older sib, who had no trouble going directly to U and on to law school.. Another got in to VA Tech, was mathematically eliminated from passing anything by Thanksgiving. Packed up, struggled at the CC and is now in a less challenging major. The desire is there, but they cannot access the prep...it simply doesnt exist at public school for the student who finds gen ed too easy. Some of these young men are enlisting, straight out of high school, and realizing the real world values achievement.

Edited by Heigh Ho
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Isn't this the reason behind the ACT, SAT, and the SAT subject tests? These tests are supposed to give an accurate representation of an applicant's basic ability and readiness; that's why every high school junior takes the ACT. Yet people balk at these tests, call them unfair, and try to get out of taking them. Many college's and universities are now making such tests optional citing a disparity in an applicant's ability to test and the unfairness of the tests themselves.

 

What would better screening techniques look like? Would they be universal?

 

I also don't want to sound elitist but I agree that there needs to be a benchmark for individuals interested in pursuing higher education. Hypothetically speaking, should a person with a 14 or 15 on the ACT be expected to take a full load of undergraduate courses and maintain the minimum academic standards? Most students with low ACT scores don't have that ability but we push them to enroll in community colleges, state unis, etc and then wonder why they struggle. So we create multiple offices for a variety of student support services because, by golly, everyone needs to go to college and everyone needs a diploma. To tie it back to the original post, perhaps the issue isn't with over worked and underpaid adjuncts, perhaps the issue is that we are attempting to educate students who simply do not have the wherewithall, ability, or desire to work at a collegiate level.

 

I think there is a big difference between making higher education available to everyone who wants it and making everyone believe they need to have a college education.

 

 

Yes, theoretically that is what they are supposed to do, but they are so dumbed down they are worthless.   That is one reason I mentioned actually looking at the writing part of the test.   Not the score from the test, but the actual writing.   Colleges don't have any trouble identifying those who need to go to remedial classes.   Accepting kids into a 4-year university that need remedial classes seems like a lie.   Parents think that that their kid is doing fine because they got good grades and got into a good school.   The high school can show stats that X percentage of their kids went onto college.   The public thinks that everything is peachy and that their local school is a 'good' one.  When in reality many of the kids aren't ready for college.   

 

Imagine a world in which those that aren't ready for college aren't accepted, at least into a 4-year university.   There wouldn't be that huge waste of money and debt for those who will flunk.   The public could see which high schools are actually educating their students.  You know how people look at the rating that their local schools have received?  Imagine one based on college's assessment of the college readiness of the graduates?    It would be easy with datamining for the state universities to determine how good of job each high school is doing at preparing their kids for college and how meaningful the grades.   

 

My niece had a 4.0+ GPA from a Dallas High School.   I could tell she wasn't getting an education, but her mother and grandmother kept saying "But she is getting all A's"  She got into A&M and flunked out.   She admits she was totally unprepared.  She never had to study, ever and she isn't smart enough to explain that.  

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There will always be underperforming students, bad teachers, bad schools , but I see a crucial difference in a system that makes it possible for "high schools" not even having to offer upper level subjects.

Yes, not all students in Germany will thoroughly master calculus, and not every teacher will teach if efficiently, but every high school is required to teach calculus and physics, and every college bound student has to take the high school exit exam in several subjects.

In my classes here, I see students whose schools did not even offer calculus or physics at all, or where those subjects were taught by teachers without qualifications -it is pitiful that this is allowed. (But we recently discussed this in another thread)

 

I'm totally with you there.

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Yes, theoretically that is what they are supposed to do, but they are so dumbed down they are worthless.

I don't think the ACT or SAT are dumbed down. I do have issues with the ACT science section as it doesn't indicate science proficiency but I think the tests themselves are valid. They are a good indicator of basic ability. High ACT and SAT scores are indicative of better academic performance than lower scores. In order to achieve a top score, a student must know their stuff. No one can guess on the ACT and score in the 30's.  

 

That is one reason I mentioned actually looking at the writing part of the test.   Not the score from the test, but the actual writing.  I am unsure whether or not the writing portion of either of these tests is a good sole indicator of college readiness.  Being able to write an extemporaneous timed essay should not be the benchmark which colleges use to determine readiness.  It's too subjective. I hate to think of all the students who are slow or anxious writers who would automatically be eliminated.

 

Colleges don't have any trouble identifying those who need to go to remedial classes.   Accepting kids into a 4-year university that need remedial classes seems like a lie.   Parents think that that their kid is doing fine because they got good grades and got into a good school.   The high school can show stats that X percentage of their kids went onto college.   The public thinks that everything is peachy and that their local school is a 'good' one.  When in reality many of the kids aren't ready for college.   I agree with all of this.

 

Imagine a world in which those that aren't ready for college aren't accepted, at least into a 4-year university.   There wouldn't be that huge waste of money and debt for those who will flunk.   The public could see which high schools are actually educating their students.  You know how people look at the rating that their local schools have received?  Imagine one based on college's assessment of the college readiness of the graduates?    It would be easy with datamining for the state universities to determine how good of job each high school is doing at preparing their kids for college and how meaningful the grades.   

Unless each high school offers the same program, I don't think this would work. Our local high school (rural small city) just doesn't have the resources  as the larger, wealthier schools in the bigger cities. The college prep readiness would be drastically lower for our students than those in other areas. We also have a large transient population. These students are (unfortunately) notorious for low test scores, low GPAs, high absenteeism, etc. If colleges were to look at the student body as a whole, college readiness would be dismal. I would hate to think that those students who are ready would be viewed as anything but based upon the ranking of the high school.

 

My niece had a 4.0+ GPA from a Dallas High School.   I could tell she wasn't getting an education, but her mother and grandmother kept saying "But she is getting all A's"  She got into A&M and flunked out.   She admits she was totally unprepared.  She never had to study, ever and she isn't smart enough to explain that.  

Your niece's experience isn't unique. Many top students with perfect GPAs are failing when they enter college. My guess, though, is that your niece did not have corresponding scores on the ACT or the SAT. That disparity - top high school GPAs and low ACT/SAT scores- has been noted for many years. It's one of the main arguments for how poorly public schools are performing, grade inflation, and the overall ill-preparedness of high school students for post-secondary education. The problem here isn't with how colleges screen applicants, it's with the high schools, the high school counselors, and the overall public school system. 

 

As an adjunct who teaches DC courses, I have this conversation with students and high school counselors every year. The student graduating as valedictorian with a 4.0 GPA (because DC courses are weighted and inflate the final GPA) and with an ACT of 21 or 22 is going to struggle. It's not unusual for me to lose the top 3-5 students at one local high school after their first exam. The students who are used to getting good grades without studying freak out when they earn a B, C or lower on my tests. I've dealt with tears, irate parents, and an interview with my dean as a result of students who are used to As but who do not read the text, complete the homework, or know how to study. My class has become more of a how-to class than an actual college class.  It's heartbreaking but those students who stick it out leave with at least some idea of what college will be like.

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Your niece's experience isn't unique. Many top students with perfect GPAs are failing when they enter college. My guess, though, is that your niece did not have corresponding scores on the ACT or the SAT. That disparity - top high school GPAs and low ACT/SAT scores- has been noted for many years. It's one of the main arguments for how poorly public schools are performing, grade inflation, and the overall ill-preparedness of high school students for post-secondary education. The problem here isn't with how colleges screen applicants, it's with the high schools, the high school counselors, and the overall public school system. 

 

As an adjunct who teaches DC courses, I have this conversation with students and high school counselors every year. The student graduating as valedictorian with a 4.0 GPA (because DC courses are weighted and inflate the final GPA) and with an ACT of 21 or 22 is going to struggle. It's not unusual for me to lose the top 3-5 students at one local high school after their first exam. The students who are used to getting good grades without studying freak out when they earn a B, C or lower on my tests. I've dealt with tears, irate parents, and an interview with my dean as a result of students who are used to As but who do not read the text, complete the homework, or know how to study. My class has become more of a how-to class than an actual college class.  It's heartbreaking but those students who stick it out leave with at least some idea of what college will be like.

 

I am also observing bright students who did very well at high school and have good test scores struggling when they get to college because their high school never challenged them. They never encountered a situation where they did not understand the material immediately, and when they are confronted with concepts in physics that do not make sense to them right away, they think they are stupid and not cut out for their major. I have great sympathy for these students, because I was in that position myself in the first semester. Many high schools short  change the strongest students by not giving them the gift of challenge and struggle (this is one of the main reasons I home school). Those students are college ready; they have the necessary math skills, are smart, and able to succeed, but they need encouragement and help developing study skills and adapting to the level of material and pace of college. Often it takes a few months for them to find their footing, find a study group, figure out what to do. The blame lies firmly with the high school that made them coast below their potential.

 

ETA: I was struggling as a freshman in the very same course that I am now teaching. I did not know how to study when I did not understand something  besides going over the notes and book over and over again. I put in insane amounts of time and worked my butt of - only to get nowhere. I got a D on my first physics test and was on the verge of dropping out because I translated this into being too stupid to be a physics major. Finally I found a study group and figured out how to learn - and from that day on, I made straight A's.

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The elites have defined the path here. Full inclusion, graduate high school in 3 if you dont have the means to afterschool, homeschool, or transport your 16 yr old to the CC instead of having your kid sit in study hall or art for 5 periods of 12th grade. At the CC, take the courses that used to be offered in 11th and 12th, or plunge right into college lite. You will find out later that its really a 2:3 program, because the lite classes arent going to transfer in to your major at the U.

We are seeing disasters amongst those friends of our sons that were not afterschooled. One kid that went straight to Jesuit college flunked out...went to the CC Honors program next and has a 4.0 as the courses are taught at the (old) 8th grade level. Mom didnt realize how dumbed down high school was compared to older sib, who had no trouble going directly to U and on to law school.. Another got in to VA Tech, was mathematically eliminated from passing anything by Thanksgiving. Packed up, struggled at the CC and is now in a less challenging major. The desire is there, but they cannot access the prep...it simply doesnt exist at public school for the student who finds gen ed too easy. Some of these young men are enlisting, straight out of high school, and realizing the real world values achievement.

This is so sad!

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I am also observing bright students who did very well at high school and have good test scores struggling when they get to college because their high school never challenged them. They never encountered a situation where they did not understand the material immediately, and when they are confronted with concepts in physics that do not make sense to them right away, they think they are stupid and not cut out for their major. I have great sympathy for these students, because I was in that position myself in the first semester. Many high schools short  change the strongest students by not giving them the gift of challenge and struggle (this is one of the main reasons I home school). Those students are college ready; they have the necessary math skills, are smart, and able to succeed, but they need encouragement and help developing study skills and adapting to the level of material and pace of college. Often it takes a few months for them to find their footing, find a study group, figure out what to do. The blame lies firmly with the high school that made them coast below their potential.

 

ETA: I was struggling as a freshman in the very same course that I am now teaching. I did not know how to study when I did not understand something  besides going over the notes and book over and over again. I put in insane amounts of time and worked my butt of - only to get nowhere. I got a D on my first physics test and was on the verge of dropping out because I translated this into being too stupid to be a physics major. Finally I found a study group and figured out how to learn - and from that day on, I made straight A's.

 

This sort of happened to me.  Valedictorian, 4.0, high test scores.  But I was a big fish in a medium sized midwestern city from an underrepresented state.  And I was a small fish at my name college.  My friends who attended Stuyvesant and Hotchkiss (schools I'd never heard of before college) were amazed that college was less work than high school.  

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Nothing to do with adjuncts, but a quick "Business Report" on NBC News this morning stated that working class white males with just a high school education saw their income fall 9% over the past 20 years.  During the same time period white college educated men saw their income rise 23%.  Someone with more time ought to be able to google and come up with a link with that report and/or data so we can see more about it all.

 

There's no big surprise that so many are pushing to get college degrees.  Now if only we can figure out how to get interested students college ready.

I think I found it! Yay me!!

 

http://money.cnn.com/2016/10/05/news/economy/working-class-men-income/index.html?iid=hp-stack-dom

 

Interesting read. I wonder how much of this is based on the changes in job requirements. Many employers now require a college degree for jobs that were high school diploma only 25 years ago. There are also fewer employers hiring FT employees. I know people who have to piecemeal part time jobs in order to make a minimal living (and some of these are educated with Master's degrees - look back at the adjunct article).

 

I think what our conversation is telling us is that there are problems with our economy, education system, and social attitudes. This is not going to be an easy fix.

 

Aside: did anyone see this week's episode of La & Order:SVU? It was about mom's who slept with a supposed admissions rep at an elite school to help their children receive admissions. 

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I think I found it! Yay me!!

 

http://money.cnn.com/2016/10/05/news/economy/working-class-men-income/index.html?iid=hp-stack-dom

 

Interesting read. I wonder how much of this is based on the changes in job requirements. Many employers now require a college degree for jobs that were high school diploma only 25 years ago. There are also fewer employers hiring FT employees. I know people who have to piecemeal part time jobs in order to make a minimal living (and some of these are educated with Master's degrees - look back at the adjunct article).

 

I think what our conversation is telling us is that there are problems with our economy, education system, and social attitudes. This is not going to be an easy fix.

 

Aside: did anyone see this week's episode of La & Order:SVU? It was about mom's who slept with a supposed admissions rep at an elite school to help their children receive admissions. 

 

I'll have to read the article later due to needing to get out and mow our lawn now, but thanks a TON for finding it.  I'm curious.  The points you've made are some that came to my mind without reading it - esp so many places requiring "a" degree even if one is not needed for the actual job.

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Ok, I lied.  My computer had it pulled up so I scanned it quickly, then opted to read it (quickly).  This caught my mind:

 

The results varied greatly by age. The youngest group of working class white men, who were 25 to 26 in 1996, saw their incomes rise by 19%, from $32,677 to $38,803, over the 18-year period. However, their college educated peers enjoyed a 133% explosion in their incomes, from $40,487 to $94,252.

 

as did the part about all older men losing some income, but I wish they had left out those who willingly left the work force (or cut back) to get better figures there.

 

It'll give me something to think about while mowing the lawn, but again, reports like this make it no surprise that there's such a push for college for practically all.  

 

Of course, it doesn't mean all will see the same income levels if they have that diploma - the populace just likes to think it does.

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Creekland - I noted the same things you did. The article raises more questions than it answers. I would like to see the actual data and interpret the results myself.

 

I still find the difference in the income "down the road" amazing.

 

$6000 increase over 18 years for working class = roughly $333 per year.

 

$54,000 increase over 18 years for college educated is not only $3000 per year, it's also more of a raise than the working class is earning at that time.

 

If these truly are the numbers of a large all-encompassing population rather than a small sample of "happens to be successful college educated men," that's pretty _____ - not sure which word to put in there... "Impressive?"  "Frightening?"  "Jaw dropping?"  I could make a case for any of them.

 

Then too... my college educated hubby started making more per year than that working class average at the end of 18 years.  I don't, but I also don't work full time and don't desire to.  If I were to start (in my field), I'd expect to be making more though.

 

Other than paying off college loans (which we did within 5 years), I'm not all that comfortable with such a disparity in wages.  I've known that already, but seeing it in this type of print is still... whatever that word choice ought to have been.

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I know I read something a year ago maybe, that amongst demographic groups here in Canada, young men with high-school education were now considered the most economically vulnerable, more so even than young single mothers.  I suspect there are similarities in other places as well with regard to that particular group, and that very likely affects the overall statistical picture for those without university education.

 

To me, though, the idea that many jobs that have no real need for a degree now "require" one is also a social problem - it means a significant amount of time and money being used for a qualification that is in real terms unnecessary, and so the degree also begins to become distanced from a real educational experience.

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I think the reason many jobs require a college degree that really doesn't need it, is that a high school diploma really doesn't say much.   Companies want people that can work hard, be smart enough to figure things out, stick-to-it-ness etc.    They can't tell that from the high school diploma, but they can from a college degree.   Back when people could drop out at 8th grade knowing grammar and Algebra, a High School Diploma meant something.  

 

In high school I had a friend that was an exchange student from Sweden.   She was on the Engineering track.  High School took one more year than ours, and you could get a job as an Engineering Tech out of high school.  

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I know I read something a year ago maybe, that amongst demographic groups here in Canada, young men with high-school education were now considered the most economically vulnerable, more so even than young single mothers.  

 

I'm pretty sure here it's still high school drop outs.  It's very, very tough for them to find decent jobs unless they have family supporting them (farming or something).  This assumes one doesn't count illegal drug dealing as a job.  There are literally kids in high school who will brag about this being their choice and dropping out as soon as they can.   :sad:  These aren't our smartest students.  By the time they are bragging they pretty much always have had experience with the legal system, so I don't think it works out the way they envision in their mind.  They tell me they make good money though. 

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I'm pretty sure here it's still high school drop outs.  It's very, very tough for them to find decent jobs unless they have family supporting them (farming or something).  This assumes one doesn't count illegal drug dealing as a job.  There are literally kids in high school who will brag about this being their choice and dropping out as soon as they can.   :sad:  These aren't our smartest students.  By the time they are bragging they pretty much always have had experience with the legal system, so I don't think it works out the way they envision in their mind.  They tell me they make good money though. 

 

Yes, actually I think you might be right - I think maybe it was young men who were working in unskilled labour jobs, rather than level of education.  The unskilled jobs young men have traditionally taken are not the same ones young women have, and the latter are now easier to find and better paid.

 

However, I would want to be careful about taking the category of "not college educated" and including "only able to work in unskilled labour" which I think is in many ways a different sort of thing, and isn't just about education.

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Just as an aside, I think its interesting that farming has been mentioned twice as something which requires no post-secondary education.  I don't think it does absolutly require it, but at least around here there is a whole campus of a large university that is dedicated to agricultural education offering a variety of degrees and diplomas.

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Just as an aside, I think its interesting that farming has been mentioned twice as something which requires no post-secondary education.  I don't think it does absolutly require it, but at least around here there is a whole campus of a large university that is dedicated to agricultural education offering a variety of degrees and diplomas.

 

There are some around here who opt to get agricultural degrees - many times they want to head into research or public policy or various organizations using that degree.  Those who want to just take over the family farm might take classes or read publications learning about that research, etc, but they don't usually opt for degrees.

 

It's pretty similar with construction.  There are those who want higher level jobs still dealing with construction.  They'll head off to get degrees.  Those just wanting to pound nails generally do not.

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