Declining By Degree Commentary

This is another nice work done by the host of the show John Merrow who has done many different documentaries on the educational system. He spent two years at college campuses that included the University of Arizona, Western Kentucky University, Amherst University, and the Community College at Denver.

The two hour documentary included many facts, some of which were surprised me a lot. One of the major surprising facts is that we have 14 million college students and around 4,000 colleges. That averages to around 3,500 kids per college. That to me is a lot and it certainly says that we do not have enough colleges in the USA. Some colleges have super sized enrollments of over 20 grand which easily causes some college classes to have over 200 kids per class. Super sized classes can easily mean a lower bar for the students to achieve and that is no good. A super sized class means a cheap way to educate the students, but I will always say that cheapens the final product you get out college. Also super sized college enrollments and class sizes easily make for students to become more of a number than a name. To me you become nothing if you just become a number.

Another surprising fact was that nearly half of all college facility is part time up from only 22% in the 1970’s. This certainly means to me that colleges are way under funded. One person they interviewed works in the Denver area is 63 years old, works at three different colleges, and teaches 9 classes a week. He also does not make much money either, but is going to have to continue at this job for many years to come.

Pell grants that used to cover 95% of college tuition in the 80’s is now down to around 50% and is only going to continue to drop as college costs keep on rising.

At the community college in Denver funding for the school has dropped by 30% in the past few years causing cuts that have to be made. At Western Kentucky University funding has also dropped a lot over the past few year while tuition increased 62% over four year and enrollment has increased by 28%. The trend is only going to continue and will have very devastating consequences down the road. Price of going to college could get so high that less and less people start going.

One of the things I saw on the show were students that said they did not really do much work at all and wished college was harder. One kid they profiled named Robin Bhalla only skimmed notes, did not really do much work at all, did not read much, partied 4 times a week and still got on the deans list and even graduated. That to me says the school only cares about money and not the students going to the college.

They did briefly get into services to help students out, but this area was lacking in the two-hour documentary and that stunk.

Lots of other people were interviewed for the documentary and I will discuss them in the next bunch of paragraphs.

I liked the Tom Fleming teacher a lot. He is a science teacher who is not on a tenure track. He said in the show “He wants to give the students their money’s worth” and from what little I saw of him he does just that. In his class he likes to use responders which I thought was a great way to teach. He was using them for multiple-choice questions. I think more classes should use them.

An economics professor was profiled on the show that wanted tenure. He said it was all about “retention, retention, retention” when it came college students and grades. One of the ways that teachers got tenure was to get published in magazines or journals. Trying to get in the journals and publications can lead to a lower bar for the students which stinks. Students should never be graded on a curve. They need to 100% exactly know what grade they got. We do not want to send people out in to the real world with degrees that are total junk.

Paulette Kurzer was an interesting interview. She teaches political science classes and does not grade pop quizzes. She only saw 3 students out side of class time who needed a paper signed so they could drop out of class. She said in college you have that untalked about rule. The students do not ask much of me and I do not ask much of the students. If this is what really goes on at colleges across the USA we really have a major problem here. Students need to be challenged or we get a crappy workforce.

Deborah Steak goes to college in the Denver area. She works in daycare for 10 bucks an hour and can barely afford to go to college. She gets a rent subsidy. She has to go to college so that she can earn more money in the childcare area. Because of her cost of living is so tight she had to drop three classes and take on more work. This royally stinks.

Ceylon Hollis on the other hand keeps a full time job while trying to also go full time at her college. She works a graveyard shift at an auto parts factory for 11.43 an hour. She sometime would work 48 hours in a week. Her sleeping pattern is very erratic where she would sleep 2 hours go to classes come back sleep for another 2 hours do some homework and go to work. This caused her to miss a bunch of class time. She said this has caused her to miss out on a lot of college activities which I think is really sad. She has a few more years in a row left of this type of pattern before she graduated. I think her schedule royally rots!!!! She also has been racking up lots of college debt as well. Ceylon moved from one credit card to another to help pay for her education and will wind up with around 26,000 in debt. At the time when a person needs to rack up little debt as possible, it easily gets to be impossible for some students.

Keith Caywood started out the University of Arizona and left the school. He was overwhelmed by the experience. Class sizes were way to big for his liking and the size of the school was also too big. He wound up managing a bar is happy. I say good for him.

Britney Schmidt was another student who was also having a tough time in school. She had an identity crisis and did not know what she really wanted to do as a career. She did spend a lot of time with one science teacher that did finally help her find out what she wanted to do with her life.

The only sports program they spent a good deal of time on was with the University of Arizona and the mens basketball team. The coach of the team is Lute Olsen and makes 1 million a year salary. His team generates 13.5 million in revenue each year. 4 million goes back to the mens basketball team while the other 9.5 million goes to fund the rest of the teams at the college.

The college educational system is going downhill big time and all I see after watching this documentary is problems on all sides. Teachers not demanding much of students, students only doing minimal work just to get a degree, some colleges getting so big all they really care about is the money and not the students, class sizes for some classes way too big, funding for state colleges down, and costs that are sky rocketing up up up just to name a few. Massive changes are going to have to made to the college educational system or we are going to trampled over by countries like China and India.

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