Public Universities Doing A Poor Job

Sep 22, 09 Public Universities Doing A Poor Job
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Every society and civilization relies on the transference of information in order grow, expand, and innovate.  The acquisition, synthesis, and transmission of knowledge has helped many formerly third world countries begin competing with Western nations economically and militarily.

Since the vulnerabilities of our financial system have been exposed, many experts have called for a return to building technologically innovative products in order to create real and sustained economic expansion.  However, there is a crisis within our educational system because American public universities are failing to educate students.  This crisis will have dire consequences if it is not rectified soon.

According to an article in the New York Times, top educators are concerned about the ability of public universities to adequately educate students and prepare them to enter an increasingly competitive workforce.  Out of the total number of students that enroll in a college or university, approximately half graduate.  These dismal numbers are a result of the undue emphasis the federal government and universities place on enrollment and not on completion.

There are other systemic problems with the university structure.  The author of The Times’ article highlights a situation known as under-matching.  This situation occurs when high school students with excellent educational credentials do not attend the best colleges.

Instead, they choose to attend a less selective school, with less rigorous acceptance standards, for various reasons such as location or cost.

As a result, they are more likely to drop out because they attend a university with high dropout rates.  Another problem stems from lowered expectations.  Many students no longer see a problem with taking more than four years to graduate.  Unfortunately, many of them end up not graduating at all.

Universities have no incentive to reverse these trends.  Large freshman classes are cheaper than upper class seminars.  It will be up the nation’s public school system to better prepare students for college.  The federal government must work to lower tuition costs.  States must work to create a stronger community college system in order to serve students who would rather pursue an associate’s degree.

These steps will help begin to correct the toll our nation’s endemic resistance to intellectual pursuits has taken on our country.  Unless we work to strengthen our educational institutions, we will not be able to keep pace with the new emerging economies and our future as a second-rate power will be set.

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