A classical education imparting cultural breadth absolutely creates and sustains a nation of values, rather than a collection of skills without a context. Unfortunately, now that university economics demands that incoming students be valued as customers with long-term revenue potential, the tail wags the dog in driving educational priorities.
As a result, the pervasive grade inflation reported by the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy shows students evidently get more bang for their studying buck, even in classes (such as general chemistry) that are rigorous by nature.
They also don’t study as hard; last year The New York Times reported that the average student today spends 12-13 hours per week studying, about half that of a student in 1960.
Our college students study less and get higher grades… but then they can’t get jobs even after this evidently stupendous performance.
Too bad they don’t choose science and technology careers: In “Science and Engineering Indicators 2012,” the National Science Foundation reports that the unemployment rate for science and engineering workers is approximately half that of all workers — and that has been broadly true every year from 1983 to 2010.
In fact, we need these students so badly at the research and graduate levels that we import them at our own expense. In 2009, the federal government funded 63 percent of science and engineering graduate students in trainee programs.
Where do these graduate students come from? We don’t generate them ourselves. Approximately 4 percent of all bachelor’s degrees awarded in the U.S. in 2008 were in engineering, compared to a whopping 31 percent in China. So we import them.