Students College Failure

Freshman (College 1st year) ・Education ・MLA

Students in America today face a society that is rapidly slipping them by in terms of academic achievement. America's global business domination is eroding, owing in large part to the number of students failing in colleges and universities around the globe. Today's increasingly technological and diverse labor market necessitates more college-educated jobs than ever before in history. The days that graduation from high school was enough to ensure success in life are gradually becoming a thing of the past. So, what are the reasons that contribute to the failure of so many college students? Some are personal, some are institutional, and some are a result of a failing primary and secondary school structure in this country. In this essay, we will examine these three areas and discuss why, if the problems are not addressed, it could mean that America will continue to fall behind the rest of the world when it comes to educating our children and preparing them for a world beyond the academic.

In examining the reasons that college students fail, the first area we come upon is the personal. Students, especially Latinos and African-Americans, are ill-prepared by to handle the transition from fully-funded public school to self-funded collegiate environment. These kinds of students feel intimidated from the moment they step onto many campuses. As Richard Colvin, reporter for the Los Angeles Times noted, “plenty of motivated, hardworking students will simply be unable to overcome the despair of stepping onto campus and feeling as if they've entered a black-tie ball wearing a thrift-store T-shirt” (p. 2). Add this to the fact that for many students, college is a series of firsts; their first time away from the security of home and family, the first time that they are totally in charge of their lives and the decisions they make, and the first time they must take charge of their lives. Per a 1993 study by Tinto, students entering college “evolve along three phases of entry: separation, transition, and incorporation” (qtd. in Akbarov and Hadzimehmedagic 2015, p. 7). Normally, students experience separation anxiety when they first arrive at a college, followed by experiences which aid them in transition, and then they finally incorporate the changes into their daily lives. Tinto also explains that students who leave college for personal reasons often do it because they “are unable to effectively distance themselves from their family or community of origin and adopt the values and the behavioral patterns that typify the environment of the institution they are attending” (qtd. in Akbarov and Hadzimehmedagic 2015, p. 8).

Turning to the institutional problems which sometimes cause students to give up on their college plans, there is a serious disconnect between student expectations of a college education and what professors in those colleges expect of the students. College structure and teaching methods have not substantially changed in many year but the students they serve is constantly changing, especially with the group of students we now call “Millennials.” Driving some of this disconnect is cultural. As Jan explains, “people from different cultural backgrounds have different attitudes about the authority of the teacher” (p. 2). Some believe the professor is there to impart knowledge and is not to be questioned or debated in anything they put forth. Unfortunately, a lot of college professors want exactly that from their students. They are trying to train the students to think, form opinions, and back up those arguments. In many primary and secondary school in the U.S. students are rarely challenged and often penalized for speaking their opinion in class which has created a generation of disconnected students who are not ready for what college is about to throw at them.

The third and final area where students are being set up to fail in college is in their primary and secondary educations. Students are being educated at the primary and secondary levels and sometimes being pushed along without much consideration as to what their future has in store for them. As a result, they end up have the credentials to qualify for a college education but they have none of the skills required to complete it successfully. However, per information reported by Colvin, “The California State University system this year [2005] required 58% of its freshmen to take remedial classes in math or writing or both, while acknowledging that such classes do a lousy job of helping laggards catch up” (p. 2). This clearly shows that many students are entering college without the prerequisite skills needed to be successful academically. Colvin also noted something which is a growing trend in the American public educations system “the public-school system tricks students into believing they've been well educated” and then dumps them into a college environment which caters to itself more than to its students.

As seen above, the reasons why students are failing in college depend on several factors, from personal to institutional. However, also as shown above, one of the biggest reasons students are failing in achieving their college plans is that the primary and secondary school system in the United States is crumbling at an ever-increasing rate. If this situation is not rectified in the very near future, it is going to leave us with no choice but to import a lot of foreigners to run the technical infrastructure which we now depend upon for our daily lives. America’s success and legacy of greatness were forged on the fortitude of immigrants but we must prove to the world that they are not needed for the United States to become a world leader again.

Works Cited

Akbarov, Azamat, and Mahira Hadzimehmedagic. "The Influence of Personal Factors on Students' College Success." The Journal of Linguistic and Intercultural Education, vol. 8, 2015, pp. 7-20,245,248-249, ProQuest Central, Accessed April 16, 2017.

Colvin, Richard L. "Education; Congratulations! You're about to Fail." Los Angeles Times, Jan 02, 2005, ProQuest Central, Accessed April 16, 2017.

Jan, Tracy. "Fear of College." Boston Globe, Oct 25, 2009, pp. K.4, ProQuest Central, Accessed April 16, 2017.

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