Students Know Less After 4 College Years


[From The New York Sun]

By Annie Karni

Students at many of the country’s most prestigious colleges and universities are graduating with less knowledge of American history, government, and economics than they had as incoming freshmen, with Harvard University seniors scoring a “D+” average on a 60-question multiple-choice exam about civic literacy.

According to a report released yesterday by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, the average college senior at the 50 colleges and universities polled did not earn a passing grade.

“At the most expensive colleges, they actually graduate knowing less,” the executive director of the Jack Miller Center at the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, Michael Ratliff, said. “Colleges and universities are not directing students to the courses that would educate them. We want to know whether after getting $300 billion to do their work, universities are actually educating their students.”

At universities such as Princeton, Yale, Cornell, Duke, and Berkeley, seniors scored lower on the test, available here, than freshmen, living proof of the broadening relevancy of the old Harvard adage that the university is a storehouse of knowledge because “the freshmen bring so much and the seniors take away so little.”

The average foreign student studying in an American college learned nothing about the country’s history and its civic institutions, according to the study.

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2 responses »

  1. Roland, you should at least have a look at the questions. They really are not difficult. It’s disturbing so many students in elite institutions did not know these basic bits of information.

    Here are a few examples:

    The Puritans:
    A. opposed all wars on moral grounds.
    B. stressed the sinfulness of all humanity.
    C. believed in complete religious freedom.
    D. colonized Utah under the leadership of Brigham Young.
    E. were Catholic missionaries escaping religious persecution.

    The Constitution of the United States established what form of government?
    A. Direct democracy
    B. Populism
    C. Indirect democracy
    D. Oligarchy
    E. Aristocracy

    In 1933 Franklin Delano Roosevelt proposed a series of government programs that became known as:
    A. The Great Society.
    B. The Square Deal.
    C. The New Deal.
    D. The New Frontier.
    E. Supply-side economics

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