Students & Parents | General Education

Some colleges fail in general education

NPR   |  August 16, 2010 by Amy Scott

STEVE CHIOTAKIS: It’s a big week for colleges and universities all across the country. U.S. News and World Report publishes its annual rankings tomorrow. Meanwhile, a different sort of scorecard is out today. And the results might surprise you. Harvard got a D. Yale and Brown flunked.

From the Marketplace Education Desk at WYPR in Baltimore, Amy Scott explains.

AMY SCOTT: The American Council of Trustees and Alumni graded more than 700 colleges and universities according to the courses they require outside a student’s major. More than half of private colleges got a D or F for requiring two subjects or fewer.

Anne Neal is the group’s president.

ANNE NEAL: Colleges and universities have essentially allowed their general education to become anything goes. And we think that that is doing students a disservice, that they deserve more than a do-it-yourself kit for $30-, $40-, $50,000 a year.

Neal says employers complain that college graduates can’t write well or do basic math.

Debra Humphreys is with the Association of American Colleges and Universities. She says making all students take American Lit 101 won’t solve anything.

DEBRA HUMPHREYS: We are hearing from employers that they want more from college graduates. But I would not say that we’re hearing that they want a more traditional, old-fashioned kind of core curriculum.

She says bosses want workers who can communicate and solve problems. Skills, she says, they can learn in many kinds of courses.

I’m Amy Scott for Marketplace.


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