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Students critique value of first two years of college

February 12, 2011

By Erin Grable, Staff Writer

Unlike the USA Today article, 79 percent of YHC students do not believe that the first two years of college are pointless and show small gains. Photo by Kathleen Layton

With the cost of college tuition on the rise, some people have questioned whether the first two years of college is worth the cost or a waste of time. An article from USA Today helped shed some light on this pressing concern among college students and their parents.

According to an article from Yahoo Shine website, colleges charge as much as $50,000 per year. With an investment this large, the thought that the first two years could teach students “next-to-nothing” may bring students and parents to rethink their decision about college.

An article from USA Today revealed from a new report that practically half of the nation’s undergraduates in their first two years of college do not display any improvements in learning. The explanation of these findings falls back on the colleges themselves for only offering academics as an option.

The report is based on the book Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses, by lead author Richard Arum, a New York University professor.

The discoveries are based off of the following:  transcripts and surveys of more than 3,000 full-time traditional-age students on 29 campuses nationwide, along with their results on the Collegiate Learning Assessment or CLA. The CLA is a standardized test that gauges students’ critical thinking, analytic reasoning and writing skills.

In this study, it was discovered that professors are more concerned with their own research as an instructor rather than teaching their students.

The results reveal that “45% of students showed no significant gains in learning” after two years in college. After four years, 36% of students “showed little change.” Also, “students also spent 50% less time studying compared with students a few decades ago, the research shows.”

Other factors of research show that truth behind the numbers of students who do study, do not study and those who do not study enough.

In the article, a reported “35% of students report spending five or fewer hours per week studying alone.” However, regardless of the “ever-growing emphasis” on partner projects and study groups the students that study with groups have a tendency to have poorer gains in learning.

50% said they never took a class in a typical semester where they wrote more than 20 pages; 32% never took a course in a typical semester where they read more than 40 pages per week.

The article tells that 50% of students admitted they never took a class “in a typical semester” that required them to write more than 20 pages in a single semester. Also, 32% of students never took a class in a “typical semester” where they read more than 40 pages per week in a single semester.

“These are really kind of shocking, disturbing numbers, said Arum, a New York University professor and author. “Students are able to navigate through the system quite well with little effort.”

The Department of Education and Congress have searched for ways to hold colleges and universities responsible for student learning, but researchers state that “federal intervention would be counterproductive.”

According to the article, the Department of Education and Congress have searched for ways to hold colleges and universities responsible for student learning. However, researchers state that “federal intervention would be counterproductive.”

With Young Harris College having a long tradition as a two-year school, the first two years have typically been especially important to students.  To compare the article results to YHC, 100 people were asked “do you think the first two years of college are pointless?”

According to the poll results of various YHC students on campus, 79% percent of students do not believe that the first two years of college are pointless and show small gains.

“The first two years are a part of the transition from high school and learning new responsibilities, said Matt Wilmer a sophomore from Conyers. “They are about finding your niche on campus and learning how to balance social life and academics.”

The majority of the students who answered no still had the same response that it is all a learning experience and we have to do it. Although some students thought otherwise.

“I feel like we have already taken a lot of these core classes in high school, said Hayden Verner a freshman from Athens. “A lot [of classes] do not even go towards students specific majors.”

One student surveyed for the poll, believed that the responsibility lies within the student, not the institution.

“The reason that some people may think the first two years of college are pointless is because they do not take it seriously, said sophomore Jordan Rudd from Buford. “The college is responsible for student learning but it is our responsibility to do what we will with it.”

 

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