Trustees | General Education

Why college students study less

WASHINGTON POST   |  May 26, 2012 by Letter to the Editor: Michael Poliakoff

The National Assessment of Adult Literacy revealed that many college graduates have a limited grasp of arithmetic and critical reading skills after four expensive years of college. Why? Post reporter Daniel de Vise noted that the average college student spends 27 hours a week on academics—about the same as full-day kindergartners. This is not just because students work for income. Think low standards and inflated grades.

Twelve of Virginia’s 15 public universities fail to meet state guidelines for weekly hours of classroom use. Many college classrooms are deserted on Fridays, and the party’s on.

Who is to blame? Fish rot from the head down. How hard would it be for university trustees to direct that as many classes will be scheduled on Friday afternoon as on Tuesday morning? To have tests on Fridays and ratchet back the party culture? How hard would it be to publish the percentage of A’s, B’s, C’s, D’s and F’s that each instructor gives and to make grading standards an issue in faculty evaluation?

A serious academic culture requires serious leadership. Students deserve no less.

Michael Poliakoff is vice president of policy at the American Council of Trustees and Alumni.


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