One of the first questions is: Have you held a job while attending KSU? At this, more than three quarters of the students rise. The next question is: Have you held two or more jobs? At this, about one third rise.
Students are likewise asked if they are married or have children. Once more large numbers stand. By the end of the exercise, it is obvious to everyone that our students have many responsibilities beyond those incurred as students.
Kennesaw State began as a commuter school, but now has thousands of undergraduates living on campus. Even so, most are not the traditional college students who went directly from high school to a small rural academy where all that was expected of them was to study and/or party.
It should, therefore, not come as a surprise most of our students take longer than the traditional four years to earn their degrees. After all, there are only so many hours in the day and if many of these must be devoted to family and work, how many are left over for study?
But now the powers that be behind Complete Georgia have decided that a 15 hour-per term class load should be the minimum. That translates into five three-credit courses for each and every semester. In terms of time, this requires three in-class hours per week and an additional three hours of study per credit per week.
So where is the time to come from? The politicians promoting “15 to finish” appear not to care. Their sole concern seems to be that students take less time to graduate. This way they get to boast that the graduation rate has risen, with this feat promoted as somehow improving educational achievement.
But does it? Consider what will happen. Students forced to take classes for which they do not have the time to study will naturally study less. They will skip reading assignments and hand in term papers either cribbed from the Internet or dashed off with scarcely a moment of thought.
And how will their professors respond? They will certainly be aware that the quality of student work has declined. But because this decline will be general, they will be reluctant to grade students down, rightly concluding that if they do, their own performances will be negatively evaluated.
The result? Fewer books will be assigned, course papers will be narrower in scope, and test scores will curved upward. In the end — on paper — it will look as if students are learning as much as they ever have. This will not be true, but the politicians will be able to manipulate the statistics to make it appear as if it were.
Once more, higher education will be dumbed down to serve other than educational purposes. We will thus be in the same boat as when high school teachers were forced to graduate students who could not even read their diplomas. Back then, social promotions inflated graduation rates and made it look like leaning occurred when it hadn’t.
So who benefits? If this policy saves money, it is surely a fool’s gain. But how ironic is it that the fewer funds the state funnels into higher education, the more strings it attaches? This is said to be for the good of the students and the community, yet it is not. It is all about talking points — not education!
On top of this, the politicians want more students to go to college so that they too can earn phony degrees. Yet who is this fooling? Producing more half-educated citizens is a sham that sooner or later will be found out.
Melvyn L. Fein Ph.D. is professor of sociology at Kennesaw State University.