Underachieving students hurt learning experience
December 4, 2006 —
What was that?
If you're ever walking by a classroom and hear a faint knocking noise, it's quite possible that the sound is emanating from my head hitting my desk.
No, it's not self-flagellation - I've been Opus Dei-free ever since I threw away my copy of The Da Vinci Code.
This article is not aimed at any one person. Rather, it's a critique of three-and-a-half years of frustration that I figured would abate as I progressed into upperclassman classes.
I figured wrong.
Is it too much to ask that students actually try in their classes? Some days I wonder why I even bother to attend class, since it seems like the only people to have actually read for the day are myself and the professor.
As I remember from a critical e-mail sent to me two years back, SVSU is not Harvard. But shouldn't students' goals be to actually walk away with what a degree symbolizes - that they have received an education - as opposed to a piece of paper telling others they have a degree?
Achieving higher standards as a university requires a commitment from faculty, students, and the administration. A professor's reputation should not be based on how easy their classes are, but rather the quality of instruction they give. You can't fault students for a lack of effort if they aren't forced to actually read the material.
Some would argue that they attend college not so much to learn as to simply attain a degree, which will ultimately get them a job. But why should one be able to achieve a degree without some demonstration that they've learned the material?
If you believe this - and there are a lot of you - then why try to improve yourself in any areas of life? Achieving the minimum should be reserved for the bottom of the class, rather than being the goal of the majority. At times, it seems like the bar is being set so low that students can trip over it without even breaking a sweat.
One step the University should look at adopting is increasing the admissions standards for incoming freshmen. As a senior, this doesn't really affect me anymore, but I can pine back to those lovely intro-level classes and wonder if some of the people in the room were weaned on a diet of mercury and lead.
Most of this dead weight was thankfully shaken off by the time I was released from the burden of these classes but not before they managed to steal some of my sanity and IQ points.
Everything comes down to the bottom line, so while the administration will never acknowledge it, they recognize that students destined to flunk out after a year contribute just as much in tuition fees as those students likely to succeed.
If the University wants to control its growth at around 10,000 students, then perhaps the amount of students admitted should be reduced accordingly. It might hurt the total number of enrollees temporarily, but if the overall reputation of Saginaw Valley is improved, it will lead to an improved student body.
After all, you can only play with the cards you're dealt, and to borrow a poker adage, there's a lot of twos and sevens going around. Many of these students should be attending community colleges before coming to SVSU, so they can learn the skills necessary to succeed in college.
I might not graduate with as much booksmarts as an Ivy League grad. But it won't be for any lack of effort on my part. How many students can look in the mirror and claim the same thing?