Are Students Really Being Educated?
My associates in the financial service industry acknowledge that college graduates from United States universities are generally unprepared for entry-level professional positions. They have particularly noticed a drop in basic skills. Students who were once hired from accredited second-tier universities can no longer be relied upon to meet even minimal standards in many professional entry-level positions. (Note: I refer to top-tier as only one to two dozen colleges across the nation. These are Ivies and several select colleges such as MIT and Johns Hopkins.)
A business executive may hire a graduate from what he believes is a top-performing business school that also boasts a nationally ranked football team into a marketing or customer service assignment. (Colleges that sport nationally ranked teams are characteristic of second-tier schools.) He must spend valuable time coaching and monitoring the new employee as the graduate lacks the most basic core skills. But executives today just do not have the time to do this in a time-stressed high-pressured corporate environment.
The situation is far worse than you might imagine. The results of my interviews with business people in many corporations conclude that students cannot function effectively in their chosen fields of study. Also, they often are severely deficient in written language and reasoning skills required to make incisive judgments and decisions. The standards have sunk so low that many students from second-tier universities cannot write a paragraph without making a major spelling or grammatical mistake.
Yet the universities continue to accept the students in far greater numbers than in past decades, and offer little effective remedial help for students in need. And what is most distressing is that, as a result of grade inflation, almost every student can graduate from an accredited college today while receiving little or no help from their universities to rectify severe learning problems.
Full-time professors have their PhD but little real-life experience in their field of study. Consequently, at the end of four years, students have little acquired knowledge and cannot think critically in their chosen career field. Professors, especially those who have tenure and are almost impossible to relieve, show little concern with their own job performance and have relatively little incentive to instruct to high standards.
You don’t have to take my word alone for any of this. In one of the few honest and broad-based surveys of businesses conducted by an academic association, the Association of American Colleges and Universities in January of 2007 disclosed that two-thirds of the employers surveyed said that college graduates lack the skills to succeed in today’s economic environment. In fact, more than 70 percent said colleges just weren’t doing the job of emphasizing critical and analytical reasoning as well as creativity and innovation. These are just the things that colleges hang their hats on when trumpeting the value of a college education. Think of how really bad this is.
So what can an executive do? She will hire only from top-tier schools that recruit their incoming freshmen from the very top of their high school classes. If her field is highly specialized, she may even go outside the country and recruit students from Asia, India or Argentina (hotbeds of Information Technology) where professors have experience in their fields. The students from these schools will have the knowledge, the tenacity, and, hopefully, the appetite to get the job done professionally.
With few job prospects, most graduates are coming out of college with nothing to show for their four years. They don’t even receive an education.