A new book confirms the glaringly obvious: Students don’t learn much from college text books.
According to the recently released, “Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses,” students that continue their education at an institution of higher learning, aren’t learning anything more than how to tap a keg and master the mid-day nap.
The book is comprised of data taken from surveys, transcripts, and test results from 2,300 college students on 29 college campuses. The depressing (though completely non-shocking) results show that 45% of students didn’t learn anything over the course of their first two years of college, and 36% of college students didn’t learn anything in their entire college career.
The authors of “Academically Adrift” are either making a bold and valiant effort to spark a change in the education system, or letting recent college graduates know just how stupid they are for volunteering to be a member of Sallie Mae’s army of lunch money-giving bitches for the next twenty years.
Surveys complied for the book show that most teachers are too entrenched in their own research to care much about their classes or students; and most students are too rooted in their binge drinking and sleeping habits to care about academics.
The most hilarious and sadly accurate statistic shows that the survey’s students spend 75% of their time socializing and sleeping, while dedicating only 16% of their precious time to studying and attending class.
“How much are students actually learning in contemporary higher education? The answer for many undergraduates, we have concluded, is not much,” write the authors, Richard Arum, professor of sociology and education at New York University, and Josipa Roksa, assistant professor of sociology at the University of Virginia. For many undergraduates, they write, “drifting through college without a clear sense of purpose is readily apparent.”
The students that participated in the study also graduated with an extremely respectable average GPA of 3.2, which either shows college students aren’t being challenged or they’re wicked smart.
I personally had a roommate who achieved Dean’s List senior year, after skipping random weeks of class to nurse hangovers, sleep, play Call of Duty, drink and nap. It was strangely impressive.
The authors are entirely correct about the fact the majority of contemporary college students don’t have a clear direction of what they want to do with their lives. This couldn’t have been more obvious over the course of the past year, with 20-somethings getting a lot of attention for their career indecisiveness, blasé attitude and idealistic pursuit of their desired but improbable careers.
Now we have a study, complete with numbers, quotes, and excessive data, proving students know weekly drink specials better than Managerial Accounting. However it is refreshing to note that the study gives some acknowledgment to uninspired teachers.
What’s depressing about “Academically Adrift” is the paradox that the book presents. The data shows that nearly half of the college students aren’t learning anything of academic merit while pursuing their degree, and to compound the problem they don’t know what to do after college. Yet, if they don’t go to college and pursue a degree they will be shunned in the working community, even though they might possess just as much, or more knowledge than the average college graduate.
The truth is college is much more than a place of higher learning. The four years young men and women spend away from home with a veiled sense of independence is an important learning experience in itself. The experience of college can’t be measured solely in a students aptitude in Calculus. Sometimes those four years bring with it a necessary lesson in common sense, maturity and responsibility.
Granted it shouldn’t be the only lesson a student learns, especially with school’s exceedingly outrageous tuition and fees, and the crushing debt that follows.
But until something changes dramatically in the education system, or in the attitudes of 20-somethings, this book will just become a reminder of a huge problem that has no solution in sight.