Aspiring Adults Adrift: Tentative Transitions of College Graduates by Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa

5. A Way Forward

  • This book makes a strong case that large numbers of students pass through higher education experiencing few curricular demands, investing little in academic endeavors, and demonstrating only limited learning. On the average, students spend about half as much time studying as they did in 1960. The message for students is, if you spend excessive time partying, take easy courses, and don’t study much, you are much more likely to end up living at home and being unemployed or under employed.
  • Institutions are to blame as they have focused on the preferences of the undergraduates rather on what should be done to develop young adults. They have failed to impose rigorous academic standards while leaving social behavior unregulated. Academic failure is rare and cheating has increased. The authors have no problem with the idea of self-directed learning, but institutions need to enforce standards to assure that this type of learning pays off with knowledge and skills.
  • Part of the problem is that other than the CLA, there are no subject-specific assessments that colleges or governments can use to determine how much students from a given program have learned. As a result, things like income of graduates are used to judge schools, which the authors see as a flawed metric. They would rather see schools confer degrees based on demonstrated competencies rather than credit hours. They also suggest that transcripts contain the student’s grade and the average grade for the students in the class. In any case, faculty and administration have a moral responsibility to doing something about the findings of this key study. Doug: Do what you can to share this work with people you know who are in position to do something.
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