College degrees too easy to get these days

degrees easier to get these days

Schools make it easier to get degrees than in times past

On-line degrees have same value as traditional degrees

There are thousands of accredited colleges and universities across the United States, as well as lots that are unaccredited.  There are state schools, religious schools and for-profit institutions.  Most of them offer distance learning degrees, commonly known as “on line.”

This fact does not diminish the degree or the institution, given that it is equally as hard, if not harder, to obtain a certificate through on line programs as it is through the traditional brick and mortar classrooms.  Unfortunately, there appears to have been a “dumbing down” of many of America’s higher education programs at all levels and this is flooding the job market with unqualified people carrying sheepskins.

While there are any number of reasons for this one of the most glaring is the amount of money that is poured into athletics, as well as lowering the bar for admission, so as to increase enrollment which increases profit.  The federally subsidized student loan programs can be a boon or a bust, given that some students find themselves saddled with outrageous bills, often in the five and six digits, and still don’t have a degree.

Read this latest summary of a study by two university professors:

It’s a hot question these days: Is college worth it? But writing for the Los Angeles Times, Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa don’t beat the same old “expensive! bad job market!” angle into the ground. Instead they wonder if it’s worth it because it’s just becoming so darn easy to graduate. Arum and Roksa, sociology professors at NYU and UVa, respectively, tracked thousands of students at more than two dozen schools, and what they found smells pretty academic lite: In an average semester, 32% of kids had no classes that required reading more than 40 pages a week; 36% studied solo for just five hours, or less, a week. And a third—shockingly—showed no substantial gains in critical thinking, complex reasoning, and writing ability after their four years.

Such gains require “academic engagement; simply hanging out on a college campus for multiple years isn’t enough. Yet at many institutions, that seems to be sufficient to earn a degree.” Universities provide a roster of easy programs, and hand out high grades like candy. Those who studied alone five or fewer hours per week “had an average cumulative GPA of 3.16.” The problem is that this is what matters most to schools: “admission yields, graduation rates, faculty research productivity, pharmaceutical patents, deluxe dormitory rooms, elaborate student centers, and state-of-the-art athletic facilities complete with luxury boxes.” And so students get shafted, entering that bad job market unprepared—with little more than “a paper diploma and an expanded roster of Facebook friends.”

Do you think it is easier to get a college degree these days?  If so, or if not,  please leave us a comment.

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Posted by on June 3, 2011. Filed under Commentary. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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One Response to College degrees too easy to get these days

  1. lazersedge

    June 3, 2011 at 5:33 am

    Carol, I think the climate on campuses in this day and time cannot be laid solely at the feet of the Department of Athletics. You also have to consider the number of students who are taught by Teaching Assistants because faculty are bust doing research, publishing, and writing grants. I know this because I retired from your alma mater 8 years ago because I was tired of playing the game. No one on any major university campus keeps their job, gets promoted, or gets raises because the are good professors. They get that because the produce research, publications, and most of all, grants.
    The other side of this equation is the students who go to college and instead of showing up with the intent of being intellectually challenged they are usually ill prepared and are generally wanting to spread their wings and enjoy their freedom from mommy and daddy for the first time in their lives. If they truly wanted to learn they can because there are plenty of good solid courses they can take instead of tennis and bowling. A large portion of freshmen do not know how to study and writing a formal paper is like asking them to speak Swahilli.
    The final piece to this puzzle is that the study you cited has questionable criteria for their data analysis. In many cases they are using a system called Class Level Assessments (CLA) which do not necessarily represent a true analysis of ones comprehension of a subject. Like any other standardized test it measures what you don’t know rather than what you know. Additionally, the authors of that study placed a lot of weight on how much out of class work and reading the students were assigned and had to do. When I was an undergraduate (late 1960’s) it was tough and time consuming because everything was at the library unless you had Cliff Notes. Today, students can hope on the internet and find anything they want in minutes if not seconds. Assign me a topic to read and I can have a good grasp on it in 30 minutes rather than the two to three hours it used to take.
    I will agree with you on one thing. The college degree is not worth much these days because everyone is getting them so they are not as valuable as the once were.