Setting the bar too low is no way to reach higher

Photo by joelogon on flickr and used under CC license

Heard a radio story about Hispanics and college last year that chapped my hide. Seems there’s some concern because there more starting school than ever before, but few are finishing. The story made reference to the need to get more of them to complete college because we won’t have enough trained workers if we don’t.

College administrators interviewed made mention of trying to eliminate obstacles for students. Like parking. Because if parking is difficult, students just don’t come back. Really? I mean, really? A student interviewed mentioned that he never took more than one class at a time because he would slack off on more than that. Really? Another couldn’t find the building where her class was and just never went. Really?

Just what kind of “trained” worker are you turning out if they can’t manage to deal with the parking situation on campus? Jumping a few hurdles shouldn’t be part of what it takes to get a degree? Learning to navigate the registration system, managing different expectations from different managers (e.g. professors), asking the right kind of questions to get where you need to go – all relevant life skills for just about any job. Any great job, that is.

Coddling students like that is no way to build a valuable work force. It makes the college’s graduation rate look better (oooo, grading performance on the wrong metric!), but creates just more cogs for the machine. Actually, something worse than cogs. At least a cog does some work as it moves around. These “workers” will just be lumps who can’t figure anything out on their own, can only do one thing at a time and never add value to anything they do. Bah.

That bar’s just one blade of grass away from being on the ground.

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