Skip to comments.Pennsylvania's college drop-out rate traced to high schools
Posted on 03/14/2010 9:24:44 AM PDT by Saije
When Mahala Muzopappa began taking classes at Westmoreland County Community College last year, she realized she was not ready for college-level math.
Though she had earned As and Bs at Apollo-Ridge High School, Muzopappa, 19, struggled in her college algebra class, relying on a peer tutoring program to pass.
"I didn't feel prepared," the photography major said. "It took a whole semester for me to catch up."
Kristen Jeannette, a sophomore at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, ended up on academic probation during her freshman year.
"The adjustment -- it's so hard," said Jeannette, 19, who took a college-prep course at Riverside High School in Ellwood City. "They teach a whole different way here. No one's going to spoon-feed you anymore."
While more Pennsylvanians than ever before are beginning post-secondary education, many are struggling with college-level work.
Muzopappa and Jeannette now are thriving in college, but others never catch up.
Less than two-thirds of students who enroll in a four-year college in Pennsylvania will earn a bachelor's degree within six years, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Among students pursuing an associate degree, only one in three will graduate within three years.
"There's a lot of room for improvement," said Michael Race, spokesman for the Pennsylvania Department of Education. "We have a lot of people who are not completing college."
This month, the department announced that the commonwealth joined Complete College America, an alliance with 16 other states, in an effort to raise college graduation rates by 2020.
The alliance will require Pennsylvania to set goals for increasing graduation rates and to take a hard look at why it is so difficult for many students to earn a degree, Race said.
(Excerpt) Read more at pittsburghlive.com ...
This has been going on for decades. COlleges have had math placement tests for entering freshmen for years to see if they need remedial math for the kids to learn what they should have learned in high school.
The the college profs HATE it.
English isn’t much better.
My kids are appalled at what most college students write like, even those who are English or writing majors. And my son is appalled at what his English writing prof handed out as examples of acceptable technical writing.
Someone needs to tell some of these professors that you don’t end a sentence with a preposition.
Community college is for those who can’t afford a four year college and don’t want to go into debt paying the confiscatory university tuition rates for the entire four years. More and more kids are doing it and I applaud them for it. I learned more in my two semesters of English Comp at JC than kids who took American Thought and Language (ATL) for Freshman English at MSU. It was an indoctriation class.
Perhaps I should have been more clear. I worked during school as well. What many students are doing these days is working a full time job and going to school - often while trying to take as close to a full time credit load as possible.
My experience with this is that students aren’t working to pay tuition, but working to maintain a lifestyle - car, cell, partying, apartment rather than dorm - that they want. I think it is misguided. Working 20 hours a week in a regular student job shouldn’t stop someone from graduating in 4 years.
“I took 8 myself. But then I also worked, and I owe nothing, so.”
6.5 years after high-school myself for my BS. Another 6 for my MS. Of course I was working full time as an engineer during the last 2 years of my BSCoE (Computer Engineering). I had a great opportunity to work for a local company that I couldn’t pass up. I guess I was doing something right.
I was done with the coursework for my MSEE in 3 years (again, working full time), but I caught a bad case of “Everything but Thesis” syndrome. The silver lining there was that when my work was done, I was actually able to demonstrate it working the way I wanted it to work due to larger FPGAs being available at far lower costs than when I started (that’s my excuse anyway) :-)! I wanted to work with floating point structures in hardware as opposed to fixed point as I had little “real life” experience with that stuff.
I also started out at a Community College. I switched my major three times as I kind-of knew what I wanted to do, but had no idea what I wanted to do coming out of high school. I had excellent math teachers, an outstanding Spanish teacher, and two excellent English teachers (though my writing skills could use some improvement :-) ). I was kind of stuck as I didn’t know if I wanted learn more foreign languages, go the computer science route, switch to electrical engineering, etc. Turned out CoE was a perfect blend of stuff I *wanted* to learn.
I also have a friend who shares a similar story. He runs a great business down in Florida doing translation services for a list of companies too long to mention. It’s amazing what knowing languages of the Middle East can do for you these days.
So, this whole assumption of “inept” when one mentions that they took longer than 4 years to finish a degree is nonsense at best. Don’t judge a book by its cover. My University is a state school, but, for what its worth, I have had no complaints about my work and, quite frankly, I love what I do for a living.
Now, having spewed all of the above, I know at least 4 people that have screwed the system big-time with Community Colleges. What they would do is max out a student loan seeing that getting accepted is not a problem and everyone is entitled to loans. They would stop going to class after a week or two. In two of those cases, they were able to repeat this “trick” FIVE times. Yes, FIVE.
The maximum loan back then was $8500 a year. That’s one hell of a nice side income in your late teens/early 20s for doing no work. I’ll bet some real money that this was never paid back.
I’ve also heard that tuition at the Community College I attended has tripled since the early 1990s. I guess a lot of people caught on to this scheme.
They should have a “fail twice and you’re out” rule for student loans. I actually think they do, but it is never enforced. If you fail two consecutive semesters, you are ineligible for student loans until you pay back what you owe. That’ll filter out a TON of garbage that abuses the existing system. I am not saying the existing system is a good one ... I’m just pointing out one thing that can be done to stop that nonsense.
Most degrees require some math/science electives for a well rounded education.
“Community college is for those who can’t make it in a four year university”
Or for those who don’t want to pay $50,000 plus for a college education.
If you go to community college for two years, then transfer to a four year college, your degree is from the four year college, and you’ve saved at least $30,000. Plus interest.
That’s what we did. Little Marie2 graduated from UCLA with about $20,000 in student debt and a very nice degree.
Reminds me of a joke that I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t appreciate!
I’m currently teaching a student on a home-bound situation.She was expelled for discipline problems, but because she has an IEP, the county is required to teach her, and that’s where I come in for 10 hours a week.
This 15 year old has a litany of problems, least of which is a total adversion to work. When things get hard, especially in math, she gives up and shuts down. We are struggling to get through Algebra slope concepts. Progress is slow beyond description
She reads at a 4th grade level and is resistant to going any further.
It’s not totally her fault, she has a 79 IQ
The kicker? She is convinced she will go to college - convinced
The other kicker? She will probably get into one, but won’t last long
Most all high schools, even small schools, now days have AP and dual credit classes. These cost even less than community college so high school students can get their first year and more knocked out so there’s no need for a community college pit stop. Passing the SAT or ACT with a medium writing score gives them one semester of freshman English. Taking AP tests, SAT subject tests and CLEP tests will either give them credit for their basics or will allow them into higher levels. High school students can also take dirt cheap online classes. Taking 2 years of high school foreign language will exempt them from taking it in college. With all that’s available there is no excuse not to graduate from high school without at least one year of college credit under their belt. If worked right, a kid from our little podunk high school could have upwards of 70 hours college credit by graduation.
Look on any college forum and anytime there’s concern over passing a 4 year university class, someone always recommends the easier local community college.
The traditional high school experience leaves many youths depressed and chronically indecisive.
I’d argue that it starts before that. A lot of kids are falling behind where they should be well before that. For them the problem starts in elementary school and gets worse every year after that.
“The saddest part is, todays college-level is yesterdays junior high school-level. “
And a college degree essentially means as much as a high school one 25 years ago. A lot of the jobs that now require you to have a college degree were done by people with high school diplomas 25 years ago. That is a good thing because a lot of universities these days turn out kids who aren’t close to educated.
well yeah, the first year of college is like 13th grade for many of the kids these days.
It is also for those who live at home, work, and go to school and the same time. It is a tremendous savings and can keep a young adult from being burdened with tens of thousands of dollars of debt.
Community colleges also offer many trade courses, for instance, truck driving school or air conditioning repair. Many of the graduates of these short term courses go on to making good salaries and good careers in the trades. Community colleges are a great blessing for those who are laid off from work and need to move quickly into at new career.
My own homeschoolers started out in community college at the ages of 13, 12, and 13. They would not have been emotionally or socially ready for the university environment at those ages. Two later went on to university and earn B.S. degrees in math at the age of 18. Many institutionalized high schoolers and high school age homeschoolers use the community colleges as it is perfect fit for these very bright kids at their young ages.
OTOH, many of those students simply aren’t college material.
I absolutely agree! I believe that Charles Murray has suggested that only the top 10% of the bell curve should go to college. The rest would be far better served with training in the trades.
I am in complete agreement- that is how Germany has pretty much been doing it all along.
The sad thing is many of these students are burdened by heavy debt for courses that are of little value to them either personally or professionally.
One more thing:
I’d bet my entire 401K that those who graduate in the hard sciences, math, and engineering **are** in the top 10% or higher of IQ.
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