Published On: Tue, Oct 31st, 2017

New college education study: graduates getting ‘random, unconnected courses’ ‘gaps in their basic skills and knowledge’

A recent national survey found that a “genuine, well-rounded college education” is a thing of the past at many colleges and universities, finding that most studnets are left with a “thin and patchy education.”

The American Council of Trustees and Alumni evaluated more than 1,100 colleges and universities based on their requirements in seven “key areas of knowledge”: composition, literature, foreign language, U.S. history, economics, mathematics and science. The results showed that 66.5 percent of the schools required only three or fewer of those subjects.

This leads to a “thin and patchy education,” the report states.

photo/ Michael Jarmoluk via pixabay.com

“Students may have dozens or even hundreds of courses from which to choose, many of them highly specialized niche courses,” it states. “Once distribution requirements become too loose, students almost inevitably graduate with an odd list of random, unconnected courses and, all too often, serious gaps in their basic skills and knowledge.”

The results include that fewer than 18 percent of colleges and universities require a foundational course in U.S. government or history, and only about 3 percent of the institutions require students to take a basic economics class.

Despite promising a “well-rounded” liberal arts education in course catalogues, on college websites, and to visiting parents and prospective students, “on the whole, higher education has abandoned a coherent content-rich general education curriculum,” the report states.

The survey included every four-year public university with a stated liberal arts mission in addition to hundreds of private institutions.

Based on its A-F rating system, only 2.2 percent (24 total) of the evaluated schools received an A; 11.5 percent (127) schools received an F.

Eric Bledsoe, vice president of curricular improvement and academic outreach at ACTA, told The College Fix that college educations today have stumbled in their core mission.

“There is a correlation between schools that score high and clarity in their core requirements,” Bledsoe said.

The “A-List” includes prestigious schools like Baylor University and Pepperdine University, but also less prominent names like Bluefield College, the University of Dallas, and Thomas Aquinas College.

Not one Ivy League school received an A.


An article in Times Higher Education suggests that the trend to reduce or broaden core requirements may be linked to an effort to increase diversity.

The article cites Alverno College in Wisconsin, a women’s institution that “rates highly for diversity” and “has been offering degrees in non-traditional formats for more than 40 years, making them accessible to working women.”

In the “What Will They Learn?” survey, Alverno received an F.

According to Bledsoe, ACTA believes a strong core curriculum need not overrule those other important goals in higher education.

“Academic excellence [and] an integrated liberal arts general education program ensures preparedness for a dynamic job market but [also] for lifelong learning,” he told The College Fix. “The trend to focus just on jobs [and the] education of the soul or intellectual development go hand in hand … they are not opposed.”

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About the Author

- Writer and Co-Founder of The Global Dispatch, Brandon has been covering news, offering commentary for years, beginning professionally in 2003 on Crazed Fanboy before expanding into other blogs and sites. Appearing on several radio shows, Brandon has hosted Dispatch Radio, written his first novel (The Rise of the Templar) and completed the three years Global University program in Ministerial Studies to be a pastor. To Contact Brandon email [email protected] ATTN: BRANDON

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