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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Degree Crisis: The destruction, dismantling of the college education

    In one way or another, at some point in our lives, we have all been told that the high school diploma isn’t what it used to be. The chances are that if we hadn’t been told this, a vast majority of us wouldn’t be in college to begin with. The job market has evolved into a highly-competitive and college-degree-demanding super-being.

    However, with class sizes on the rise and admission standards plummeting, the sad truth is that soon the college diploma won’t be what it used to be either. In particular, your UA diploma’s worth is taking more hits than the United States’ credit rating.

    In an effort to curtail the frequency at which freshmen leave the UA, there is a new plan in the works designed to aid in the retention rate. According to an article from the Arizona Daily Star, the UA’s freshman retention rate slumped from 80 percent some four years ago to an embarrassing 77 percent last year. With numbers like that, something had to be done.

    The UA has come up with a plan that attempts to tackle the dilemma in three ways.

    The UA will introduce a math course titled “Math 100” to try and get across the basics of math that many new students lack. There will also be a new “early alert” system that enables instructors to set up benchmarks that determine if a student is still on track to pass a course. In theory, a student not meeting the little checkpoints along the way will be told that they’re on the right path for failure. Lastly, students will have a degree tracker showing all of the courses that they’re taking and how they fit with graduation.

    In other words, the UA is accepting students who can’t adjust to the responsibilities of college, and the response is to coddle them more with courses and programs that we already have. No matter that Math 112 is essentially a calculus prep class and doesn’t logically need a lower instructional class below it. Disregard the fact that an early alert system is going to create more undue work for professors and just forget completely that a students’ advisement report already details all the requirements of a degree and what classes meet those specifications.

    At what point does the responsibility of these supposed college-ready, and worthy, students kick in? Throughout my entire academic career, I’ve always been told that the next year or the next rung of the educational ladder is going to be more difficult and require more responsibility. Yet, every year, it seems that doesn’t ring true. There still seem to be unnecessary safety nets and useless programs that have no place at such an academic level.

    A college education is not a right, it’s an opportunity. If universities are admitting students incapable of low level college math, perhaps they shouldn’t be admitted. If a new student can’t take the responsibility to monitor their own progress and study the concepts of a lecture, perhaps they need to work on that before they apply.

    It’s easy to see why the high school diploma lost its luster; it isn’t preparing students for much of anything. At this rate, the college diploma, or at least one from the UA, could find itself in a similar situation. Perhaps the problem isn’t that the UA isn’t offering the students a chance to succeed, perhaps the problem is the students aren’t prepared in the first place.

    In the words of Roxie Catts, director of the UA Advising Resource Center, “the bottom line is, it’s up to the student to be successful.” I couldn’t agree more.

    — Storm Byrd is the Perspectives editor for the Daily Wildcat. He can be reached at

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