Phi Beta Cons

Why Don’t Others Get This?

It’s refreshing when someone spells out the facts about higher education so that they could not be clearer. This time it’s a blogger on Forbes.com, J. Maureen Henderson, writing about how many students are prepared for college.

ACT, the organization that competes with SAT, issues an annual report. Based on the latest, Henderson writes that only 39 percent of the students who took the ACT test this year did well enough to “be reasonably confident (non-academic factors notwithstanding) that they’ll succeed in their first year college classes and continue on in their education to earn a degree.”

Yet 86 percent of them plan to go to college (and only six percent of those expect to get a vocational degree).

The ACT report also gave some information about last year’s test-takers. While 87 percent intended to go to college; only 69 percent actually did. But given the student performance on ACT, Henderson points out that “a significant number of college freshmen showed up for their first day of classes last fall with dim prospects of making it through the next four years.”

Shouldn’t this report be resonating through the halls of the Department of Education bureaucracy? Shouldn’t this report give the “college for all” enthusiasts some pause?

Jane S. Shaw — Jane S. Shaw retired as president of the John W. Pope Center for Higher Education Policy in 2015. Before joining the Pope Center in 2006, Shaw spent 22 years in ...

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