NYT: Is College a Waste?

Only in Middle School.  Click to see.

In the quest to make us all look worthless and stupid, the New York Times is continuing to  investigate the merits of an American college education. Apparently, we have too much free time and learn nothing half the time.  We also don’t read or write enough.  (Are we doing anything right?)

The NYT asked a bunch of experts what they thought, and my reading is that a liberal arts education is the way to go.  There seems to be agreement that college should be more engaging, with smaller class sizes and intense work loads, attracting students who aren’t just there to find a job.  Sounds familiar to me.  But here’s what the experts say:

The President of Bard

  • “All many of them [college students] know is rote learning, and fear of mediocre standardized tests and grades.”
  • “Colleges and universities should help raise standards in high schools, concentrate on fashioning distinct, rigorous and engaging undergraduate programs of study, and reward teaching.”

Oberlin College Dean of Arts and Sciences

  • “Students who take traditional liberal arts and science courses fare better in terms of the increase in skills measured by the Collegiate Learning Assessment than students who take undergraduate course in more pre-professional fields; and courses demanding more work from students (for example, courses with larger quantities of reading or writing required) tend to raise learning more.”

Former Dean of Temple University College of Education

  • “there is a relevance problem as well as a priorities problem.”
  • “The typical college classroom is a stand and deliver environment that does not foster engagement, interaction or exchange.”

Columbia University Chair of Religion

  • “When there is pressure to teach large classes to help the bottom line, the wisest policy is to assign little reading or writing and to grade easily.”

UC Santa Barbara Econ Professor

  • “the conclusion is hard to avoid: things have been made much easier…If colleges no longer require this kind of effort, how could students hope to acquire these skills and how could colleges hope to instill them?”

UConn Sociology Professor

  • “The 325 students who now populate my classroom have told me essentially the same thing. “Why are you here?” I ask them. “To get a better job,” they tell me.”

George Leaf

  • “Professors who would rather devote their time to their own career-advancing research projects often strike an implicit deal with their students: don’t expect much of my time and I’ll keep the course easy and the grades high.”
  • “It has been accurately said that college is the new high school; the way we are going, soon it will be the new middle school.”

[Image from Buzzfeed] [NYT]

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9 thoughts on “NYT: Is College a Waste?

  1. Guest


    The only “real”, no-bull shit college courses here are in the science and math field.
    Other Liberal Arts courses? Fuck no… That can explain why NSM majors at Wes have average GPAs of 3.0 – 3.2 while those in humanities and arts have 3.5-3.7.

    1. Mwahahaha

      people who are good at humanities come to wes and get good grades. people who are good at sciences don’t….

      (probably just as much truth in my statement as yours.)

      1. HA (Humanities)

        hardly. far more truth in the first statement. people who are in sciences also typically take both humanities and science classes, while humanities people typically pigeonhole their academic experience at wesleyan.

      2. Guest

        5 Lowest Grade Point Averages

        Chemistry 2.78 GPA
        Math 2.90 GPA
        Economics 2.95 GPA
        Psychology 2.98 GPA
        Biology 3.02 GPA

        5 Highest Grade Point Averages

        Education 3.36 GPA
        Language 3.34 GPA
        English 3.33 GPA
        Music 3.30 GPA
        Religion 3.22 GPA

    2. Guest

      even though science majors have lower GPA’s, the technical skills they gain prepare them better for a future job, or a future graduate school. Ever wonder why the GRE test subjects are almost exclusively in the sciences? don’t worry NSM majors: despite having slightly lower grades, your major inherently places you in good hands

    3. joder

      oh, fuck off. everything you just said runs contrary to the idea of a liberal arts degree. you can’t rein in 40 years of grade inflation as well in more qualitative majors. besides, undergrad GPA isn’t the best indicator of what you’ve learned, or even how you’ll fare in your field or the job market.

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