Yesterday we talked about the extraordinarily inflated price of college tuition. Today we are going to ask if the students who stick it out for four (or five or six) years are getting a real or useful education. The exorbitant tuition prices cover salaries for well-paid leftwing professors to teach hundreds of so-called "niche" courses instead of courses teaching general knowledge and skills.A survey of 700 four-year universities by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni revealed how many elite colleges allow students to take these niche courses to satisfy core curriculum requirements. The most neglected core subjects are economics, which is required in only 4% of colleges, and U.S. government and history, required in only 19% of colleges. Only 16 leading colleges require at least six of the seven core subjects, and Yale, Cornell and Brown are among 100 top colleges that require only one, or none, of the core subjects.
The best hope for bringing down the price of college tuition is to stop the flow of government money. Another solution would be to stop paying for worthless courses. A third solution may be the spread of online courses to replace the construction and maintenance of expensive buildings.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced in 2001 that it would put its entire course catalog on line. Harvard, Yale, Stanford, and the University of Michigan offer major portions of their courses on line, all free. Some colleges let enrolled students take courses on line. An estimated 4.6 million students are taking college-level online course, and that number is rising rapidly. At the University of Florida, resident students earn 12% of credit hours online. One professor has a class with 1,500 undergraduates, and no lecture hall can hold them. Students can be in bed in their pajamas, the new casual dress code for attendance.
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