The New York Times has a piece on community colleges, and their "eager but unready" students. It caught my eye as I'm teaching a couple of history classes at a nearby community college this fall. After some students basically walked out after a simple map quiz last week (not a 'pop' quiz, mind you) I'm not sure that 'eager' is really the proper term for them.
Why do students react this way? Because many of them simply aren't ready for college, according to the article:
The efforts, educators say, have not cut back on the thousands of students who lack basic skills. Instead, the colleges have clustered those students in community colleges, where their chances of succeeding are low and where taxpayers pay a second time to bring them up to college level.
The phenomenon has educators struggling with fundamental questions about access to education, standards and equal opportunity.
Michael W. Kirst, a Stanford professor who was a co-author of a report on the gap between aspirations and college attainment, said that 73 percent of students entering community colleges hoped to earn four-year degrees, but that only 22 percent had done so after six years.
“You can get into school,” Professor Kirst said. “That’s not a problem. But you can’t succeed.’’
Prof. Kirst seems to cast as an issue with the community colleges, which somehow prevent these sincere students from succeeding. I wonder how many community college classes he's taught.
Community colleges are great for older students who are trying to go back and improve their lot in life, and for financially restricted students who can get a good start on a college education. And there really are some students who goofed off in high school and realize that they'd better get serious. But quite frankly, not everyone is capable of college work, and no amount of sociological hand wringing is going to change that.