Beware of falling standards in higher education

By Ellen Barczak, Columnist

“Weed-out” classes are nearly universally despised. It’s a huge accomplishment to be admitted into college as it is. Staying in college, however, is a different story.

Contrary to popular opinion, weed-out classes are beneficial. I don’t think they’re mean or unfair; they lead to higher quality education and contribute to the credibility of a university.

Freshman year, I took MATH 220: Calculus I during my first semester, as required by my major. The average on the first exam was a 49%. There was no curve either. About one-third of the class dropped and were forced to rethink their majors.

College shouldn’t be easy. I don’t really believe in the legitimacy of classes that are “easy A’s” either. I don’t even believe in the educational value of online classes.

I genuinely feel that as enrollment in universities all over the world increases, the standard of education is decreasing.

College is being dumbed down.

We live in a world where a bachelor’s degree in business from the University of Phoenix online is technically equivalent to the same degree from the Gies College of Business at the University of Illinois. Any student who has taken an online class will tell you these degrees are not equivalent in any way, shape or form.

A quality education consists of challenging courses that demand excellence while simultaneously providing students with the resources necessary for success. The success of a student should not depend on the course being “easy” or “hard”; rather, success in a course should depend on one’s work ethic and ability to take advantage of the resources provided.

Calculus was a bear of a course. Surviving in that class meant spending 15-20 hours of your own time grinding out the homework. However, help was available on a daily basis, and the instructor made clear what was necessary to succeed.

Not everyone is meant for college; universities, consequently, should not try to become something different or try to compromise their standards to accommodate those who would likely be more successful in a nonacademic setting.

Online classes are the harbingers of the educational apocalypse. They do not demand excellence; they demand half-hearted, pathetic little module posts to which one must compose even more half-hearted responses. They’re a joke, and everyone knows it.

As I’ve written before, general education courses matter. The University has clearly jumped onto the “who cares about Gen-eds” bandwagon with the takeover of online classes in this portion of a college education.

I don’t care if online courses are cheaper; they discredit and delegitimize the University and reduce an institution that prides itself on learning to a $30,000-a-year hoop-jumping activity.

Students: Work hard, go to class, do what you’re supposed to do and stop pointing fingers at professors for your own shortcomings.

University officials: Hire proper professors, take ICES forms and student feedback seriously and never stop demanding excellence, no matter the cost.

Students and the University must work together to maintain the legitimacy of a college education.

Ellen is a sophomore in LAS.

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