We’re a sneaky bunch of bastards.
The entering freshmen at universities across the nation over the past couple of years have looked exceedingly bright and seemed to be wizards at learning anything you put in front of them. This year’s crop, following the upward trend, have the highest percentage of A averages ever recorded,
However, this same class reported a record-setting new low in amount of time spent studying their last year of high school.
Maybe that explains why the national average for dropping out of college is sitting right now just above 50 percent. The obvious question here is: How the hell did these maniacs get such good grades in high school?
As one student said to the L.A. Times, they “were not interested in understanding the material; they just wanted to jump through the hoops to get the biscuit.” This helps some, but doesn’t entirely explain the situation. Getting straight A’s should require at least a little bit of learning.
I guess the hoops are just set a little bit low. Looking back to my personal experiences in those dreamy teenage days, I recall putting forth little to no effort whatsoever and somehow escaping with a GPA of 3.6. But that’s not straight A’s, either.
The correlation between my actual learning experience and my GPA is near nonexistent. There is more of a trick to getting A’s. Doing exactly as you’re told. Show originality, but don’t take excessive personal liberties. Show understanding of the material, but in the given format.
And, of course, argue your grades. If you can, get your parents to tell your teachers that you really do need the scholarships and that you really did put a lot of effort into the class. And remind the teacher that getting anything less than an A could, in fact, ruin your entire life, because then you’ll never get into college, never make any money and die a poor lonely soul in some back alley with a hypodermic hanging out of your mainline.
Teachers respond to this. Look at grade inflation. They feel bad doing such a terrible thing as preventing a child’s one and only chance at success: college. So they toss off the top grades for everybody in the class, giving extra upward nudges for good effort, or for being a nice kid or having a particularly pathetic story as to why they need the grade.
So in that lull of memorization when absolutely necessary, flipping our excuses and learning tricks to doing well on standardized tests, it seems that people are getting great grades and learning something very close to nothing at all.
Then they get to college. Some people find the transition easy. Those who did well in high school because they were borderline OCD cases already developed the study habits it takes to excel in a university. Those who scammed the system into giving them A’s, well, they’re either communication majors or finding out the hard way that they really didn’t ever learn how to learn.
That last category, again, makes up roughly 50 percent of all college students across the country, excepting those that leave for financial or personal reasons. This represents an enormous failure of the very basis of education in this country: standardized tests.
They tell you how smart you are, they tell Bush how good schools are, they tell universities whether you have potential or not, they seem to be able to answer all the questions. Except this one: Why are people who are so obviously well-prepared to go on to some institution of higher learning failing so miserably once they get there? Maybe we should make a standardized test that can tell us that.
Daily Nexus assistant opinion editor Cory Anthony knows a lot about higher learning, if you know what I mean.