"And remember: the most important thing is numbers, numbers, numbers!" "Our central goal should be raising enrollment numbers." "You have to keep in mind that as an institution we are dedicated to raising our numbers." These are exhortations that college administrations across North America keep addressing to the teaching faculty. Numbers! To hell with quality, let's just concentrate on quantity.
Of course, high enrollment numbers mean more money in tuition fees. But at what cost? For me, this enrollment obsession means that I have to waste valuable class time explaining that there is no country called Ustingay. And that not only is Africa not a Latin American country, it is not a country at all. And that the Mexican Revolution did not happen in Spain. And that there was no country called the United States of America in the VIII century. And that Hitler was not a communist. For the majority of students, this means that while I'm explaining these very basic things to their extremely unprepared colleagues, they have to sit there bored out of their minds. And the money they paid for tuition goes to waste. For the unprepared minority, this means that they will probably have to drop out after their freshman year, having wasted a year of their lives and a big sum of money they paid to attend classes they are not prepared to attend.
In reality, when we allow students who are not even remotely ready for college to enroll, we are selling them our services under false pretenses. We promise them that we will somehow magically overcome the huge lacunae of knowledge and get them to a place where they can have a college degree.
We need to recognize honestly that for reason too well-known to be enumerated here, the secondary education system in the US is failing miserably. And we can't allow this problem to end up destroying the college education system as well.
One solution might be to offer a very basic college entrance exam. Since high school diplomas are inadequate in measuring who is ready for college, it rests with us to make sure we don't harm either the prospective students or the system of higher ed in general.
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