Thursday, June 12, 2014

So What is A- Work?




By Professor Doom

 

HEY I HAVE CAME UP WITH A MAJOR PROBLEM AND I NEDD YOUR HELP PLEZ….MY MOTHER WAS DIGNOSED WITH CANCER AND IM DA ONLY CHILD AT HOME AND I HAVE BEE MISSIN ALL MY SCHOOL AND I WAS WONDER WOULD YU BE KINDA ENUFF TEW HELP ME REPLACE ALL MY MISSIN GRADES AND ASSIGMETS PLEZ!!!



--actual e-mail from a second year student at my college, yes, it was in all capital letters. While I strongly suspect this student wasn’t really interested in education, the fact remains: she was in her 4th semester of “progress” in college level work, sucking up loan and grant money all the while.

 

     I’ve mentioned before how the average grade on college campus is A-, and I’ve mentioned how easy it would be to fix it without influencing graduation rates in the slightest, giving employers a way to judge the merits of a college graduate without looking at the now bogus GPA.

     In my last essay, I addressed the bogus courses for athletes scam at UNC. I came to UNC’s defense, pointing out that other campuses also have bogus courses for athletes, and that such was hardly a secret. The NCAA agreed, and won’t punish UNC for getting an “unfair advantage”.

     Accreditation, of course, doesn’t care about bogus courses and aren’t even a factor here.

     UNC doubled down, however, and said that their bogus courses weren’t just for athletes, that, in fact, that their classes were bogus for all students. While I find this a very questionable defense, I again feel the need to connect the dots.

     The average grade on campus today is A-. This inflation is due to many factors. There’s immense pressure from admin to pass students no matter what. The primary definition of good teaching today is student evaluations, and evaluations are higher the easier the grading.  Admin forces faculty to lower standards; the good students still get A’s, while the weaker student grades have no place to go but up (it’s rather like if you reduced the definition of “perfect fitness” from “50 push-ups”  to “1 push-up”—suddenly everyone would be perfectly fit).

     So, the average grade is A-, and that’s for legitimate courses. For bogus courses the average grade, of course, is A, the best it can be. There’s not a lot of room in between the two, so it’s worth looking at how a student gets that A- in a legitimate course.

 

      Let’s take a look at an actual essay from an A- student athlete at UNC:

On the evening of December Rosa Parks decided that she was going to sit in the  white people section on the bus in Montgomery, Alabama. During this time blacks had to give up there seats to whites when more whites got on the bus. Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat. Her and the bus driver began to talk and the conversation went like this. “Let me have those front seats” said the driver. She didn’t get up and told the driver that she was tired of giving her seat to white people. “I’m going to have you arrested,” said the driver. “You may do that,” Rosa Parks responded. Two white policemen came in and Rosa Parks asked them “why do you all push us around?” The police officer replied and said “I don’t know, but the law is the law and you’re under arrest.

--ok, this may be a draft…but it’s still an example of the writing skill of a student athlete at UNC. He’s at least a high school graduate, and probably has a number of hours of college credit already at the time he wrote the essay.

     The above paragraph was part of a larger assignment, and much apology has been made that perhaps it was draft work. I have my doubts about it being a draft, I’ve seen many an essay or e-mail from a student, and I’d call that a fairly decent writing sample, one that a student would not bother to rewrite. Note that under Microsoft Word, there is nothing underlined in red. “Nothing underlined in red” is pretty much the definition of good writing for a student nowadays.

     Seriously, the above writing (from a legitimate course, by the way, not one of the bogus courses) would merit an A- from many courses I’ve seen offered on campus. Considering how most college papers are probably bogus anyway, I can see a faculty member being so thrilled at the student actually submitting his own work to grant extra credit (I’ve seen some classes where the grading is on a 100 point scale, but students can get up to 50 points of extra credit—real tough to not get an A there, I promise you). An A- is very defensible for this work, nowadays.

     So, I have to concede UNC is correct; their academics in general is the problem, and it is not simply restricted to the athletes. That said, they’re no worse than many an institution.

     Student athletes supposedly get an education in exchange for the many thousands of dollars’ worth of entertainment they offer their schools, but it’s fairly clear they get no education, at least at the top schools…instead, they get a slim of chance of “making it big” in the pros of sportsball (and hey, “sportsball” is underlined in red in Word). On the other hand, the “normal” students just get into debt (with an average closing in on $30,000).

While both groups get degrees with awesome GPAs, neither is getting much of an education. This is why most employers give competency tests to college graduates before hiring them—the real world has caught on to the fraud of higher education and knows that most degrees are meaningless.

The students are getting horribly exploited by this system to the point of being trapped into a lifetime of debt slavery, and yet, amazingly, a case could be made that the “student athletes” are getting even more exploited.

I’ll look at that case soon, but next I must examine an essay by a $650,000 a year administrator justifying what’s going on in higher education. It’ll be fun, I promise.