What Will They Learn

, Kristin Theresa Jaroma, Leave a comment

Exploring the respected notion of higher “general education” in America, the American Counsel of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) set WhatWillTheyLearn.com in motion, a project aimed at evaluating major public and private colleges and universities on seven key areas of knowledge; English composition, foreign language, literature, U.S. government or history, economics, mathematics, and the sciences.

ACTA, an independent and non-profit organization, upholds to the standards of “academic freedom, excellence, and accountability” of America’s schools while releasing accurate rankings. Such a task is especially important during this time of rising tuition costs and economic uncertainty.

This online, college ranking guide is currently covering over 700 educational institutions nationwide, and providing useful information that cuts through the verbiage of college curricula right through to the crucial point of what students are expected to learn, and if they are being equipped to become thoughtful, learned members of our nation.

These particular seven courses of study are designed for grounding students in a well-rounded education, while at the same time, equipping the mind with necessary tools that will allow individuals to successfully participate and contribute to the global marketplace.

However, a closer and more in-depth look is revealing that colleges today are “failing to deliver,” and the students are receiving diplomas at the expense of “great gaps in their knowledge.”

Administrators and teachers together need to determine what ought to be taught to all entering students in their institution, so as to avoid students being enrolled in a mismatched, incoherent list of courses. However, this is not incompatible with the freedoms of choice and options. Pre-determined core requirements ensure the fundamentals are covered while leaving room for choice of electives in areas of personal interest and relativity to majors.

General, broad-based knowledge is important, which is the ideal goal of an institution’s core curriculum. It ensures that students are exposed to core subject matter, built upon a foundation of logical thinking and reasoning skills, which gradually shape a starting-out student into an educated person.

Employers and businesses fear that if colleges do not begin to safeguard higher academic principles, the lacking of a firm educational background in college graduates will eventually harm the United States’ “competitiveness and innovation.”

Today’s workforce demands necessitates that colleges must provide a “challenging, context-rich, and coherent” education. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that an American worker on average holds nearly 11 different working positions from age 18 to 42. A solid education will provide the flexibility needed to adjust to a changing global economy.

The ranking reports of ACTA assist in the college decision process so to enable families to find an institution whose curriculum criteria of general education has not fallen to “anything goes.”

If students begin to place more importance on the quality of the education a college is providing, rather than its reputation, they will enable themselves to walk out proficient in reading and writing, generally knowledgeable in basic mathematics and economics to thrive in the job market, communicate effectively, and posses a working understanding of American governmental principles to become informed and influential citizens.

Kristin Theresa Jaroma is an intern at the American Journalism Center, a training program run by Accuracy in Media and Accuracy in Academia.

If you would like to comment on this article, e-mail mal.kline@academia.org.