According to this piece from Academe Today, too many people are going to college. The author erroneously states that remedial education began in the 1980s. However, Remedial education actually began much earlier. Harvard certainly had remedial education in the 19th century as the doors to higher education were opened to immigrants and graduates of the "new" public high schools. I'm sure the case was made then, as it is now, that these students are being done a disservice by allowing them to think they can attain a degree.
If the job of education is merely to provide a skilled workforce, then, perhaps, there should be something in addition to college or university beyond the trade schools. Of course, the same business leaders who complain about a shortage of skilled workers, often set barriers to promotion by making a college degree the entrance requirement.
In our teaching experience, haven't we all encountered the student who did not apply his/herself in high school or for whatever reason didn't get a firm grounding in high school, but had the intelligence, the desire, and the will to get an education? Those students benefit from some remedial support and go on to become excellent students and productive members of the workforce. I believe the real issue is a sense of elitism, that higher education is only for a chosen few. What if the division between the highly educated and the skilled workforce became too great? The benefits of a liberal arts education are to expand the thinking of students; to encourage them to think outside the box of a narrow discipline or skill.
No one wants to encourage a student who has no ability whatsoever, but should one be so quick to judge?
These are just a few thoughts from a first generation college student who didn't need remedial studies but has dedicated her life to helping others overcome barriers to higher education.
Assistant Director, Learning Center
Rogers State University
1701 W. Will Rogers Blvd.
Claremore, OK 74017
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From: Norman Stahl [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
Sent: Monday, August 14, 2000 8:58 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Another piece from Academe Today for you to consider
>MAGAZINES & JOURNALS
>A glance at the summer issue of "American Outlook":
>Too many people go to college
>The swelling number of college-bound high-school seniors does
>"serious damage to industry, students, and higher education
>itself," writes William R. Beaver, a professor of social science
>at Robert Morris College. Enrollment rates have risen
>phenomenally over the past century, writes Mr. Beaver, with 70
>percent of all high-school graduates going on to college. And
>while increased college attendance seems a safe goal to
>politicians, he disagrees that it's for the best. As the last of
>the baby boomers entered college in the 1980's, institutions
>became fearful of not filling their classes, Mr. Beaver says,
>and responded with massive publicity campaigns, lower standards,
>and scholarships -- all to attract "less-qualified students."
>Many of those students couldn't handle the work, he maintains,
>so colleges introduced remedial courses and began inflating
>grades. The result: "Higher education became less of a haven
>for the elite and the academically qualified and more of an
>expected destination for almost everyone." That change has had a
>"detrimental impact on industry," writes Mr. Beaver, who quotes
>a corporate recruiter noting the shortage of skilled workers.
>Mr. Beaver writes that parents and high-school guidance
>counselors just can't get over the notion that a college degree
>is the way to success, and, therefore, often encourage students
>-- who actually might find higher pay scales as skilled
>industrial workers -- to go to college. Such students waste
>time, he says, and hurt academe. Mr. Beaver warns: "For a
>college education to have meaning, it must be distinctive and
>limited to those with the ability and motivation to pursue it."
>The article is not available online, but more information about
>the magazine may be found at
Norman A. Stahl
Professor and Chair
Northern Illinois University
DeKalb, IL 60115
Phone: (815) 753-9032
FAX: (815) 753-8563
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