USA TODAY recently published an article on the failings of higher education in the U.S. I know you’re thinking this is about unrealistic standards colleges have toward their students, or possibly the prohibitive costs, redundant course requirements, bureaucratic nonsense, TAs, the tenure system, teachers that can’t teach, or even the saturation of unmotivated and unprepared students. Good news– researchers say you’re wrong. Bad news–you’re…probably right. Shit. Anyway, the article posits that college is actually too easy, and kids now need a challenge. Wait, what?
“There is a net effect related to selectivity that is powerful,” says Princeton University president emeritus William Bowen, lead author of Crossing the Finish Line: Completing College at America’s Public Universities, out today. While everybody does better at stronger schools, “the difference in outcomes … is greater for minorities than for other people,” he says.
First off, this is a classic example of correlation not equaling causation. I don’t plan on reading the book, but sheesh, if that’s what you’re publicizing, I can’t imagine it’s a pithy read.
Part of having your diploma in hand is to show employers that you’re able to stick through a commitment, deal with a bunch of crap along the way, and the realization that things are bigger than you, so it’s important not to be so self-important. There seems to be a sense of entitlement here. If one wants to find a challenge, there are no shortage of challenges out in the world today. To say college isn’t/wasn’t challenging enough strikes me as childish. It sounds like the individual then was either too lazy or too stupid, and frankly, either distinction speaks poorly to their character.
If you’re not challenged enough through the courses themselves, you should have no problem meeting the most minimal requirements and graduating. If that’s genuinely not challenging enough (and it’s great if that’s the case, though I suspect there are fewer geniuses in this study than those purporting to be), go beyond the classroom and/or take different courses you’re interested in and would be challenging. This all sounds like a convenient excuse to dismiss one’s failures while maintaining a superior, smug sense of oneself.