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Trustees | General Education

What Will They Learn? 2020-2021

A Survey of Core Requirements at Our Nation's Colleges and Universities
September 28, 2020 by ACTA Download PDF Press Release

In this 12th edition of its flagship annual survey of college general education curricula, What Will They Learn?, ACTA shines a light on the wide disparity in academic standards at institutions of higher learning across the country. What Will They Learn? reviews the core curricula of over 1,100 four-year public and private institutions to determine the rigor of each school’s general education program. Ratings are based on how many of the following seven core subjects are included in the curriculum: Composition, Literature, Foreign Language (intermediate-level), U.S. Government or History, Economics, Mathematics, and Natural Science. Grades are awarded on an “A” through “F” scale, depending on how many of the seven core subjects institutions require. This year, 365 schools earned an “A” or “B” grade, while over 400 received a “D” or “F.” Too many colleges and universities continue to offer unstructured and chaotic curricula, causing students to sort through a plethora of course options in the name of “choice” and “self-discovery.” What Will They Learn? 2020-2021 and its interactive companion website WhatWillTheyLearn.com can help orient students, parents, and trustees as they consider what educational quality looks like in 21st century America.

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Launched in 1995, we are the only organization that works with alumni, donors, trustees, and education leaders across the United States to support liberal arts education, uphold high academic standards, safeguard the free exchange of ideas on campus, and ensure that the next generation receives an intellectually rich, high-quality college education at an affordable price.

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