Thomas Sowell

As someone who spent years teaching at colleges and universities for students who ranked in the country's top 10 percent, I nevertheless encountered many students whose interest in intellectual matters was less than overwhelming, to put it charitably.

Many were bright enough but often gave the impression that they would rather be somewhere else, doing something else. Some of their teachers also thought that they should be somewhere else, doing something else.

During my first semester of teaching, my grading standards caused most students like that to transfer out by the second semester. Teaching the other students during the second semester was a sheer joy and I continued to get letters from them over the years, even after I had moved on to other institutions. In other words, the departure of the dead wood made the class better.

Far weightier evidence than anecdotal personal experiences, however, are the statistics on how many students actually graduate.

The American Enterprise Institute, a Washington think-tank, has recently published statistics on what percent of a given college's students manage to graduate in the course of six years.

There are colleges where at least four-fifths of the students graduate in that time and other colleges where at least four-fifths of the students fail to graduate in that time.

Considering the enormous costs of maintaining a student in college-- whether that cost is paid by parents, the taxpayers, or the students themselves-- an open-ended call for "more" seems like too many other open-ended commitments that have run up record national debts without any corresponding benefits.


Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

Creators Syndicate