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Tuesday, May 24, 2005

General College should go

--posted by Tony Garcia on 5/24/2005

Gone are the days where there were no community colleges in the state. Gone are the days where "underprivileged", or more accurately, poor students could not get into school. Gone are the days where race worked as an exclusionary factor (unless you are white or Asian, those exclusions still exist).

So that means that all of the handwringing that the poor, uninformed students at the University of Minnesota campus is all for naught.

The decision to get rid of the General College (GC) is not putting anyone at a disadvantage...except the ones who are not ready for college and want to say that they dropped out of a Big 10 school instead of a Comm Col.

The first thing is that you must consider the source of the protests.

(1) AFSCME Clerical Union has taken up the non-labor related cause. (I have said it before, I will say it again...this is improper if not illegal use of union resources.) They can't be trusted for any information on any topic. They proved that during the strike where they claimed everyday that the number of people on strike was "strong" and "growing" even though the payroll number told the contradicting truth.
(2) Student on campus have many causes and many views. Sadly they are rarely anything more than blind lemmings following anything that their instructors tell them. It is vogue to protest the "man". It is vogue to be radical liberal on campus. It is vogue to be anti-establishment. Even if they have no clue about what they speak they will parrot what has been told to them. They would rather drink and loaf than research their cause. They can memorize what they need to repeat (a skill they employ in the Marxist classes of the University) and that is the crux of their knowledge base.
(3) General College students specifically are unique from the rest of the student body in this aspect. They were not ready for University level learning. They may not even realize that. For whatever reason, be it laziness in high school (as would have been the case for me if I tried post-secondary education right out of high school) or whatever the case, they are not ready. This necessarily implies that they do not yet have the higher analytical skills that would normally be developed within the University structure.

With each of these groups their main weakness is causing them to be far off on this topic. General College as a college will be enveloped into a new College of Education and Human Development. This does not mean that current students will be booted out.

It does mean that an applicant that is not ready for University learning must accept the reality and either self-study to better their readiness (a difficult thing, I know from experience) or go to a Comm Col to get the preparation that is needed and then transfer to the University.

This works in the same sense as in secondary school. You cannot move into the 12th grade if you are not ready. There is a progression that must occur. You do not move into Medical School without being properly prepared through pre-med or other acceptable equivalents.

Race is NOT a relevant issue here either. Dr Robert Jones in an editorial in the MN Daily writes:
Contrary to many perceptions, General College isn’t the only destination for students of color on the Twin Cities campus, nor is it exclusively attended by students of color. Only 19 percent of the undergraduate students of color on the Twin Cities campus are enrolled in General College; the other 81 percent are in other colleges. This year, less than half, 48 percent, of the students in General College are students of color.

He also addresses the financial barriers questions:
Capacity limitations already are affecting admission to the University. This fall, for example, we’ll have the ability to welcome only approximately 5,300 of the 20,500 students who applied. That forces some tough choices. But financial barriers won’t be one of them. Scholarships are the University’s No. 1 fund-raising priority and that includes the new Founders Opportunity Scholarship, which makes up the difference between other financial aid and the cost of attendance for qualified low-income students.

Now why is it so damn important to restructure the colleges? Because the University is losing its standing as a World Class institution...that in effect harms the students coming out of the school.

When I first moved to Minnesota the U of MN ranked in the Top 20 of the US News & World Report rankings of the countries undergraduate schools. Included in the Top 20 today are schools like Harvard, MIT, Stanford, Northwestern and Duke.

As of 2005 the ranking is 66th. That is behind schools such as Miami University of Ohio, Worcester Polytechnic Inst., Georgia Institute of Technology, Case Western Reserve Univ, U of California-San Diego and Yeshiva University That puts the U of MN in 9th among the Big 10 schools...ahead of U of Indiana and Michigan State only.

Something has to be done. This is one of the steps to do something.

Research money is also being lost. This is a big part of the oil that keeps the University running. Unless the U of MN improves its rankings the dollars as well as the top researchers will go elsewhere. Who wants to put money into a school that is sliding in stature? Who wants to teach at number 66 when they could got to a Top 50 school?

General Collge should go...and what is being proposed now is a good first step. It is necessary to restoring the pride that was the University of Minnesota.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You propogate one of the assumptions that so many who are for "restructuring" GC do: that it does not significantly contribute to research at the U of M. GC is not only well known for providing a chance to underpriveledged students, better than most of them would get at a community college, but also for its world-renowned research. It is probably the one college at the U whose very mission makes it inherently not only a source of quality undergraduate education, but also of world-class research. In order to provide its students with good instruction, it completes some of the most important education research in the nation. It has been continually recognized for this. Unfortunately, notable research and quality undergraduate education do not always go hand in hand. Research does not assure a good education for undergrads. More likely, it assures professors who spend more time researching and teaching grad students, and less time with undergrads. The U's goal of becoming a world-class research institution will likely come at the cost of undergraduate education. GC is the one unique case where this does not have to be so.

May 26, 2005  
Blogger Tony Garcia said...

1) What research projects are housed in GC?

2) The question is not if the GC education is "quality", the problem is that the large majority of the students are not prepared for Big 10 quality. They should get their 2-year prep at Inver Grove or Anoka CommColl or Hennepin CommColl or SCSU. Then they can transfer. What is so onerous about that?

In the meantime there is a disproportionate amount of GC students that fail to graduate in 6 years. That alone drags the U of MN's position in the national rankings.

3) Research money actuall pays a good portion of the bills. You have your choice in a university and you cannot have all of them. (a) Access for many or the ability to get quality professors. (b) High research earnings which give lower tuition burdens or access for unprepared kids and higher tuition burdens. (c) General College with horrid graduation rates or students that are able to do the work transferring from a CommColl to the U to earn their degree.

Considering your inability to grasp the full reach of the benefits of a top-notch research school and how much of the main topics in the original post I would guess that you are either one of the students who are given talking points to repeat or you are a GC student.

May 26, 2005  
Blogger Aaron said...

The graduation rate for a six year student comming out of the GC is about 30%.



May 26, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1) http://www.gen.umn.edu/research/Default.htm

2) Community college students who transfer to the U do generally do fin. But what about those who don't transfer to a 4 year university. I wonder what the 6 year graduation rate of JuCo students is considering that... Frankly, I don't have time right now to check it out, but I feel pretty safe in speculating that the percentage of students who graduate from a University, and who entered JuCo with the intention of doing so, is pretty low. GC offers a unique opportunity to students who just haven't had a fair chance, but show some promise.

3) Research grants pay for research, hence research grants. Tuition, state funds, tuition grants, and donations pay for undergrad education. You'll notice in those rankings that most of the top schools are private, meaning they charge extremely high tuition and attract a lot of donations so that they can offer top notch undergrad education and top notch research. As for the public schools, most of them have to find some kind of happy medium. Focusing totally on becoming a top research institution is not going to significantly benefit undergrad education at the U unless it decides to misappropriate research grants to undergraduate education.

my email is k o c h 0 8 9 at u m n dot e d u since you probably have no idea who I am. (I am not a GC student by the way).

May 30, 2005  

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