Friday, September 15, 2006

Low Graduation Rates Raising Questions

The NY Times is running a story today (reg. required) about dropping graduation rates at universities across the country. The focus of the story is on African-Americans, but is clearly applicable to all groups.

Our own 6-year graduation rate is around 43%, if I remember correctly.

These stories always present complicated emotions, because they ignore the question of quality, as if graduation is more important than actually learning something. As we have often discussed on this campus, raising enrollment and graduation rates can most easily be fixed by lowering standards.

That is a path that we shouldn't go down, but it always lurks under the surface in a topic like this.

4 comments:

lammers said...

I am not troubled by "low" graduation rates. Call me elitest, but I do not believe university is for everyone. For whatever reason (preparation, interest, temperment, motivation, etc.), some people are unwilling or unable to do what it takes to earn a baccalaureate degree. They are as misplaced in a university as I would be running a business. There are plenty of ways to be successful and happy in this world that do not require a bachelor's degree.

But how does one KNOW that at the onset? How is an 17- or 18-year-old about to graduate high school know whether he or she is a good match for university? The best way to find out is to give it a try. Go for a year; see if it "clicks." While not everyone desearves to *graduate* college, everyone DOES deserve to give it a shot and see if it is right for them.

I emphatically do *not* think automatically of those who leave college as "failures." They were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Anonymous said...

I would have to agree with lammers. college is not for everyone and everyone does not have to have a B.S. or B.A. degree to be happy. i have several friends who quit school for various reasons along the way.
standards should be high. writing a check and getting a degree is for tech school (no offense intended but personal experience)

Lake Winneblogo said...

This, however, is the problem. How are we going to define the role of college in our society?

Politicians and Chancellors define success by the number of degrees produced. Wells was in the Northwestern again this weekend, pushing his theme that we need more graduates in NW Wisconsin. Now that is unarguably true, but we don't need more people holding worthless diplomas.

If we reduce the number of college graduates by increasing our standards, where does that leave our institution? But if we continue to let quality drop, what kind of graduates will we produce?

nemesis said...

lake winneblogo said:
>>Wells was in the Northwestern again this weekend, pushing his theme that we need more graduates in NW Wisconsin.<<

yeah and he was in again this morning. a pic of him dancing the hoochie-coo with a scantily clad dancer ...