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NY Post Columnist Riley: US Colleges Fail to Educate

By Bill Hoffmann   |   Tuesday, 15 Apr 2014 04:15 PM

Today's colleges and universities get a failing grade when it comes to educating students and preparing them for the real world, says author and New York Post columnist Naomi Schaefer Riley.

"This is the month where those fat envelopes arrive and parents and students are so excited to find out about which school of their dreams has admitted them," Riley told Ed Berliner, guest host of "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.

"Unfortunately, the next thing that will arrive is a college catalog that looks like it's about the size of a doorstop and, unfortunately, it's a completely intellectually incoherent document.

"Basically, we've gotten rid of general education requirements across the board, and so now a typical semester for a college student will be a little animal behavior here, a little intro to psychology here, a little business here," she said Tuesday.

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Such an erratic curriculum gives students no relevance for life and careers after college, said Riley, author of the books "The Faculty Lounges: And Other Reasons Why You Won't Get the College Education You Pay For," and "Til Faith Do Us Part: How Interfaith Marriage Is Transforming America."

The faculty and their students share the blame, she said.

"[Students] want a four-year party that's paid for by their parents.... [Faculty] want to publish obscure research, and they get rewarded financially for doing so," Riley said.

"So, what happens then is they turn around and say they've written an entire dissertation or a book about costumes in the court of Louis XVI and then they decide, well, why do any more work?

"I'll just teach an undergraduate course on that, regardless of whether it's helpful for the students who are actually taking the course. So, the incentive structure in higher education is all wrong."

The solution partly lies in giving teachers multiyear, renewable contracts like most other businesses, and doing away with tenure.

"When we don't live up to the terms of our contract, then we don't get the contract renewed and the rest of the world somehow seems to manage to get by with that," Riley said.

"One of the biggest reasons to get rid of tenure is because it really incentivizes this publish-or-perish mentality."

Among the classes Riley says should be avoided by students are gender studies and ethnic studies.

"I don't think you're going to get a substantive education in those," she said, adding that parents must take an active role in what courses their children are enrolling in.

"Parents should really be attaching some strings to those tuition checks and saying, 'You know what classes you are signing up for this semester? I want to actually see, and I care about where my money is going,"' she said.

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