Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Blinn College Has 4.1% Graduation


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 on-time 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 degree-seeking 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 3-year 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 rip-off 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:

--honest, UNC isn’t alone in doing this sort of thing. Blinn has several sub-campuses, 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 mosquito-borne 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 re-organization 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 9th grade. It’s illegal to offer pre-9th 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 6th to 7th 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 7th to 8th grade. How many taxpayers would be ok with supporting this school if they knew that only the better students take the 8th 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 3-peat 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 9th 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 pre-high 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 10th grade, or perhaps the 9th 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: Mathematics-Chart I, Mathematics-Chart I, Inst. Designated Option-Cht 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 8th 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: Mathematics-Chart 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 2-year 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.