Steve Salerno paints a dark picture:
Loath to force ill-prepared students to stretch by mandating a core sequence in math and science, most colleges permit them to concentrate in their major subjects and fluffy electives.A 2004 study of 50 major colleges and universities found that half failed to require students to take a suite of core courses in such basic subject areas as math, science and economics – and a quarter required just one such core course or none at all.
Meanwhile, grades keep rising. Grade inflation is no news flash, but the magnitude of the problem startles. An exhaustive analysis by a former Duke University professor early this year showed that average GPAs at state-run colleges rose steadily over the past half-century and have now hit 3.0. The trendline is even more pronounced at private colleges; some elite schools boast collective GPAs approaching 4 – which is straight A’s.
And yet – the final irony – none of these concessions is enough to ensure the successful completion of a four-year degree program. The dropout rate at U.S. colleges is a jaw-dropping 46%. Among free-world nations, only Mexico fares worse.