Across the country, college students are starting classes, but that does not mean they are receiving an education.
The American Council for Trustees and Alumni’s latest report and website What Will They Learn reveals that most colleges and universities are not providing students a well-rounded education. Of the 719 colleges and universities analyzed in this report, only 16 institutions of higher education (that is, 2% of colleges) provide a coherent, content-rich general education or core curriculum. These few “A” rated schools require students to take courses in composition, literature, a foreign language, U.S. government or history, economics, mathematics, and natural or physical science. The course most ignored in core curriculum is the US government/history requirement: only 19% of the 700 require it (compared to science, which 85% of colleges require).
Just because a college is expensive or elite, does not mean that a content-rich education is available. Of the 178 colleges who charge more than $30,000, only two colleges receive an “A.” In contrast, the average cost of an “A” ranked school is $16,000. And, interestingly, six of the highest ranked schools are located not in the Northeast but in Texas.
As What Will They Learn describes, a coherent, content-rich core curriculum is not achieved by simply amassing 120 credit hours over eight semesters. A core curriculum exposes students to subjects they might otherwise avoid and builds the analytical and critical-thinking skills that are essential to being an educated person. Moreover, a good core curriculum fosters an “intellectual community in which students share the focus and excitement of discovery and learning.” Beyond the university, an education founded upon a solid core curriculum better prepares young men and women for the ever-changing challenges and needs of the modern workforce.
Before enrolling in “Amphibious Warfare” or “Philosophy and History of Recreation,” check out the benefits of a core curriculum. And for the 81% of current students who lack a good education in U.S. government or history, may I recommend a book or two?