By Professor Doom
It’s been a while
since I’ve looked at a community college’s course listings, to see if they’re
actually operating lawfully, and honestly offering higher education to their
community. Having reviewed questionable CC’s in Louisiana, California, and New York, I guess
it’s time to look at another state.
Today we’re going
to look at Blinn College, in Texas. Looking at their website, it looks like a
great, great, school. The line about “top transfer school in the country” is a
flag, however. By billing itself as a transfer school, the school need not
concern itself with graduates, or with being good at anything. “We’re a
transfer institution,” rationalizes the administrators, “so we really can’t
focus on anything.” I’ve seen it enough times.
A look at
the official stats sure tells the tale. Their ontime graduation rate is
4.1%I’d criticize this, but that seriously is pretty good for community
colleges. If the public honestly knew that getting a 2 year degree in 2 years
doesn’t happen for over 95% of degreeseeking students even at the good schools, would they start asking for a change?
It’s very misleading to call what community colleges offer a “2 year degree”
when getting a degree in that time period is highly unlikely. Calling them
3year degrees won’t help, as the official stats for 3 year completion are
hardly stellar—6.2%.
Taxpayers are
told community colleges are much cheaper, but this too is a lie. Even great
schools like Blinn still cost the taxpayer around $60,000 per degree—Austin
Community College runs over $107,000 per degree (again, just looking at
official stats released by the colleges themselves here), so once again Blinn
does look good on the curve but…I really wish the public were better informed
about what a ripoff these places are. I repeat: I’m not making up these
numbers, administration at these places know what they’re doing because they
collect and submit these numbers. With average university tuition around
$25,000 a year, I just don’t see how a 2 year degree costing $60,000 is much of
a savings. Again, if taxpayers only knew what the real costs were, I bet
there’d be more questions asked.
Blinn is a big
enough CC to have its own major sportsball programs, with the usual scandals:
As a graduate of the Bryan campus, and a current
distance student at SHSU, I am appalled that a member of the Brenham staff was
able to do homework: i.e.
discussion postings and quizzes for any student on campus, much less an
athlete.
honest,
UNC isn’t alone in doing this sort of thing. Blinn has several subcampuses,
Bryan is the largest.
I haven’t
actually crunched the numbers here, but it’s clear that taxpayers would be far
better off to just tear these places down. Past that point, if they left the
ruins to molder as mosquito breeding grounds, the health costs for treating
mosquitoborne illnesses would, probably, still result in a net benefit to the
taxpayers, over paying for these places.
the Poo Bah was just covering up a
cheating scandal by a star sportsball player, so hardly counts. Hey, this is
one of the rare cases where the Poo Bah actually gets involved in the
operations of the school. Allegedly. What’s neat about this is the Poo Bah got his contract extended, even
after months of criticism over his reorganization plan, a faculty senate vote
of no confidence and the recent alleged cheating scandal involving a Blinn
football player.
Blinn sure has had its share of scandals,
but let’s talk about academics. Community colleges regularly engage in a level
of fraud that, again, if people really understood it, they would close down
these schools.
As always, the school generally puts its
fraud online, so let’s look at the Fall offerings. Naturally, I’ll focus on the math
classes. Here’s the very first one:

Associated Term: Fall
2016
Registration Dates: Apr 04, 2016 to Aug 30, 2016 Levels: Undergraduate Brenham Campus Campus Lecture Schedule Type Traditional Instructional Method 3.000 Credits View Catalog Entry 
Hmm, prealgebra. Now, most students begin
to learn algebra in the 9^{th} grade. It’s illegal to offer pre9^{th}
grade level coursework in college, as per Federal law. Maybe the name is misleading? Let’s
take a look at the catalog:
the study
of fundamental operations of arithmetic on the rational number system,
including an emphasis of signed number arithmetic, solving simple linear
equations, and percent applications…
So, we’re looking at how to multiply, add,
subtract, and divide numbers, as well as an “emphasis” on “signed number
arithmetic”—that long phrase just means students are told about subtraction,
and the concept of negative numbers. Uh…that was the 6^{th} to 7^{th}
grade for me, and I suspect most of my readers recall about the same. Once
again, it takes all of thirty seconds for anyone who cares to know, to see with
his own eyes the violations of Federal law here.
Look, a course like this has its place
for struggling students but…there are 27 sections of this course, 27 sections
filled with students having a track record of failing this material for 6
straight years in the public school system (in courses already paid for by
taxpayers). Perhaps 15% of the students on campus are in this course in any
given semester, as an estimate.
Next up is:
Associated Term: Fall
2016
Registration Dates: Apr 04, 2016 to Aug 30, 2016 Levels: Undergraduate Attributes: Exclude Crse from 6 Drop Count Brenham Campus Campus Lecture Schedule Type Traditional Instructional Method 3.000 Credits View Catalog Entry 
A review of the catalog shows this course
is basically the 7^{th} to 8^{th} grade. How many taxpayers
would be ok with supporting this school if they knew that only the better
students take the 8^{th} grade material? There are 29 sections here, so
another 15% of the campus is in these courses.
What’s next? Here we go:
Associated Term: Fall
2016
Registration Dates: Apr 04, 2016 to Aug 30, 2016 Levels: Undergraduate Attributes: Exclude Crse from 3peat Count, Exclude Crse from 6 Drop Count Brenham Campus Campus Lecture Schedule Type Traditional Instructional Method 3.000 Credits View Catalog Entry 
Hey, we’re almost at the 9^{th}
grade here. I trust the reader now understands why so few students actually
graduate in 2 years…most students will spend over a year trapped in courses
like this. Another 22 sections, so over 10% of the campus.
Keep this in mind: close to half the
campus here is in prehigh school coursework. How does anyone accept that these places are about higher education?
Finally, we get to “college” algebra, the
algebra many students take in the 10^{th} grade, or perhaps the 9^{th}
if they were solid students. It’s even called College Algebra at Blinn, and it
has 29 sections.
Actually the College Algebra at Blinn is
a watered down version of the algebra most people take in high school. The real
“college” algebra course is:
Associated Term: Fall
2016
Registration Dates: Apr 04, 2016 to Aug 30, 2016 Levels: Undergraduate Attributes: MathematicsChart I, MathematicsChart I, Inst. Designated OptionCht II Brenham Campus Campus Lecture Schedule Type Traditional Instructional Method 4.000 Credits View Catalog Entry 
This is so ridiculous, how many versions
of “Introductory French” are there? Does “Introductory English” have many
versions? Is “Introductory Psychology” a course you can take half a dozen ways?
Why is math being spliced and respliced? Since this is the real course, there
are but 15 sections here.
Now, at last, we’re finally solidly into high
school, with courses on trigonometry, six sections. Students that intend to go
to college degrees that actually lead high paying jobs will find some use here,
and there should be a way for students that missed this material in high school
to catch up.
There are also 9 sections of “Pre Calculus
Math. Since calculus is offered in many high schools, and is a first year
course in college, pre calculus is still in high school here.
There’s also a “finite math” course, more
accurately described as “fake math,” for the students that aren’t trying to get
a degree that will lead to a job or anything else. This kind of course is becoming
extremely popular in college now, though it used to be “a special course for the sportsball
players to take to fool people into thinking they’re taking a math class in
college.”
I’ve mentioned this fake math course a few
times in this blog. This course is a college course, but it’s so fake that it
wouldn’t even be allowed in high school. It’s basically the very first,
introductory, chapter from four different subjects—a student can basically
master all the material for any given test in a few minutes of study (assuming
he didn’t already learn it in the 8^{th} grade or so), and if he misses
a whole month of classes, it doesn’t matter, since what happens in one month of
classes is not related to any other month. It serves as a metaphor for most
college coursework now: no preparation, all introduction…a student leaves the
course with nothing, much as most students leave college after years, with no
skill that couldn’t be mastered in a few weeks at most.
So, this fine, wonderful school, which
transfers most of its students, or so it says, offers this fake course. They
have sportsball at this school, so I can see a section or two of this. How many
sections do they have of fake math?
92 sections.
Half the campus takes this course (past
remedial, there will be overlap as students can take more than one math course).
Yowza. If only people knew what was going on, even in the “great” community
colleges.
There are another 32 sections of
“Calculus for Business and the Social Sciences,” basically the calculus many
students take in high school. These will generally have fewer students per
class than the endless remedial courses, so I can’t hazard a guess as to the
percent of students this course takes up.
There are 6 sections of “Math for Liberal
Arts Majors,” basically the math for those that found the fake course of Finite
Math too tough.
Next, we come to 8 sections of a very
watered down, high school level, statistics course:
Associated Term: Fall
2016
Registration Dates: Apr 04, 2016 to Aug 30, 2016 Levels: Undergraduate Attributes: MathematicsChart I Bryan Campus Campus Lecture Schedule Type Traditional Instructional Method 3.000 Credits View Catalog Entry 
There are two sections of “Math for
Teachers,” which is every bit as fake as Finite Math and Liberal Arts math. How
did it happen that there so many different fake courses came into being? Are
there really that many ways to say “1 + 1 = 2”? This is just nuts.
At long last, we come to college material:
22 sections of Calculus I. 12 sections
of Calculus II completes the first year work.
6 sections of calculus III, and a single
section of differential equations, is the entirety of second year offerings on
this campus.
Let’s do the math.
There are 312 math sections taught on
this college campus. 39 of them are college level math courses. So, 87.5% of
the coursework on this campus is high school level. Considering every other community college campus I’ve looked at runs about 90% high
school level or lower, this is, indeed, pretty good. Kudos to Blinn for being
at 87.5% high school, instead of the usual 90%!
But do note: only about 2% of the
coursework on this 2year campus is second year coursework. Is it any wonder,
then, that only a small percentage of students actually graduate?
There’s a huge push to erect these faux
campuses of faux higher education throughout the country. In times past, they
did serve as useful to the community, but now, the data is very, very, clear
that community colleges are a shame, and a pale echo at best of what they once
were.