Huffington Post correspondent Jeff Selingo (via Joanne Jacobs) has encountered a few corporate college recruiters who, while conceding their employers' failure to develop their human resources, are less than happy with the applicant pool.
[A]ll of the recruiters told me they were surprised by the number of applicants they encounter who clearly were not ready to go to college in the first place, yet possess a degree.

"The focus on access and completion has come at a real cost," one recruiter told me (he didn't want his company identified because he's not allowed to speak on its behalf). "We're encouraging students to go to college who should be considering other options, and then we're pushing them through once there."
The pushing-on-through apparently has a signal: poor writing skills.
That's where many of the recruiters were quick to let colleges off the hook, for the most part. Students are supposed to learn to write in elementary and secondary school. They're not forgetting how to write in college. It's clear they're not learning basic grammar, usage, and style in K-12.
Do I see indirect support for the Cold Spring Shops proposal that colleges send high schools a bill for the remedial education (developmental should not mean teaching eighth grade material) their lack of effort imposes on college faculty?  If I had wanted to teach special education, I would have sought a special education certificate, not a Ph.D. in economics.  I also suspect that the introduction of oppression studies into freshman composition to the exclusion of writing doesn't develop writing skills.

The correspondent also suggests that the nonaggression pact between professors and students is not working in the students' favor.  On one hand,
The recruiters complained about professors who clearly gave grades that were not deserved, allowed assignments to be skipped, and simply didn't demand much from their students. The lack of academic rigor might please students and their parents while in college, but it's doing a disservice to students when they graduate and have similar expectations in the workplace.
On the other,
Speaking of expectations, many of today's younger workers want everything now and have a sense of entitlement.
The recruiters lay some of that off on indulgent parents, but if one gets an A just for showing up, the first time the boss (pointy-haired drone or not) insists that a deadline be met, it is going to come as a nasty surprise.
Colleges and professors need to uphold their standards and encourage more rigor in the classroom, knowing the short-term consequences might be unhappy students but the long-term benefits will be better-prepared graduates.
The offices are closed to conserve energy. Perhaps that will give me time to post an essay I wrote twenty years ago, in which I suggested it would be better if students were unhappy with demanding professors.  Why not use the protections academic freedom and tenure give to deliver university level content?

1 comment:

Dr. Tufte said...

Well ... I for one was denied promotion based on bad teaching evaluations.

Yet, I have a reputation as a good teacher, and I don't have any problems with attendance even though I don't require it.

But ... the customers aren't happy.