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New Numbers Show College Is a Learning-Free Environment

Nearly half of the college students in a new study showed no significant gains in learning after their first two years. That's not the worst of it.


A new report entitled Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses backs up the point made by our excellent essay "College Is Only Good for Helping Rich People Get Richer": College students are not learning. In fact, the report found, after surveying and examining the transcripts of 3,000 college students, that 45 percent of students showed no significant gains in learning after their first two years and 36 percent showed little change after they graduated.

This chart shows how college students are spending their time (and their parents money) instead of learning:



You could well argue that there are intangible things that you learn in college that aren't academic, such as how to live in small spaces with people you don't like very much, exactly how much you can drink without throwing up, and the minutiae of your state's date rape laws. And surely some other, legitimate non-academic items, as well. But at the cost, you really should be emerging an academic superstar. It was not too long ago that people graduated from college knowing Greek and Latin and German and a whole host of other pieces of knowledge. We are not, as a race, getting stupider as we evolve. It must simply be that we are not trying very hard any more.

Some other takeaways from the study:

•35% of students report spending five or fewer hours per week studying alone. Yet, despite an "ever-growing emphasis" on study groups and collaborative projects, students who study in groups tend to have lower gains in learning.

•50% said they never took a class in a typical semester where they wrote more than 20 pages;

•32% never took a course in a typical semester where they read more than 40 pages per week.

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This was not my experience in college. I spent a lot of time incredibly stressed while writing many pages and reading alone. What about you?



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