Skip to content
Culture & Religion

Colleges Handicap Students By Appealing To Their Emotions Rather Than Their Intellect

Instead of preparing students for the intellectual rigors of life and career, colleges place too much of a focus on keeping them happy. The relative lack of success among recent graduating classes is a consequence of this approach.

Here are some shuddering statistics about 2009 college graduates, from Vox:

“A study of more than 1,000 members of that graduating class from 25 selective colleges found that two years after graduation, one-quarter of them were still living at home. Thirteen percent had jobs that didn’t require any college education. Most were still getting some kind of financial help from their parents.”

Those stats come from a book called Academically Adrift written by sociologists Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa. The pair recently penned a follow-up called Aspiring Adults Adrift, for which they re-interviewed the students from the initial survey. Their conclusion is that a sizable number of these graduates were intellectually unprepared for the rigors of life and career upon completion of their studies. As Vox notes, Arum and Roksa blame the schools:

“[These] colleges were paying too much attention to keeping students happy and too little attention to developing their critical thinking, reasoning, and writing skills.”

While graduating in the middle of a recession did the class of 2009 no favors, they were already set up to struggle by their schools’ lackluster standards and curricula. It’s an interesting theory, and one many recent grads will probably nod their heads to and say, “sounds about right.” For instance, I remember academics being something of an afterthought at my alma mater. If 25% of students strove to satisfy their studious ambitions, the other 75% were wrapped up in the superficialities of campus life. The school went with their wallets and supported the latter.

It’s really a matter of economics, marketing, and brand. Books and lectures don’t make students happy. School-sanctioned booze and inflatable games do. Prioritizing the latter over the former is an ethical dilemma at best, but it’s the reality many colleges have created.

Take a look at the full article and interview at Vox

Photo credit: Poznyakov / Shutterstock


Up Next