College is too damned easy

We recently tracked several thousand students as they moved through and graduated from a diverse set of more than two dozen colleges and universities, and we found consistent evidence that many students were not being appropriately challenged. In a typical semester, 50% of students did not take a single course requiring more than 20 pages of writing, 32% did not have any classes that required reading more than 40 pages per week, and 36% reported studying alone five or fewer hours per week…

In much of higher education, the problem is in part that undergraduate education is no longer a top priority. Instead of focusing on undergraduates and what they are learning, schools have come to care more about such things as admission yields, graduation rates, faculty research productivity, pharmaceutical patents, deluxe dormitory rooms, elaborate student centers and state-of-the-art athletic facilities complete with luxury boxes. Many institutions favor priorities that can be boasted about in alumni magazines and admission brochures or that can help boost their scores in college rankings. Colleges have abandoned responsibility for shaping students’ academic development and instead have come to embrace a service model that caters to satisfying students’ expressed desires.