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Report: Colleges Failing to Properly Prepare Students for Careers

A lack of focus on core subjects is at the heart of the matter.

The American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) has released the latest edition of its signature publication What Will They Learn? 2019-2020, giving only 22 of 1,123 four-year institutions they ranked a grade of “A.”

ACTA takes a different approach to college rankings, as final grades are dependent on whether schools require all students to take courses in seven priority subject areas: Composition, Literature, (intermediate-level) Foreign Language, U.S. Government or History, Economics, Mathematics, and Natural Science.

“It’s not surprising that public confidence in higher education is falling,” said Michael Poliakoff, ACTA’s president in a recent press release. “Amidst all the fanfare about the release of the latest college rankings this week, there is not a peep about ill-informed citizens, often underprepared for the workforce, who are graduating from our colleges and universities with mountains of student debt. By focusing on resource inputs, admissions selectivity, and institutional reputation, the major rankings systems drive costs up but show little interest in what students learn—or don’t learn.”

This year’s report has a new look with a revised website, a new focus on high school counselors, and an emphasis on what employers believe a core curriculum should provide to students.

The findings reveal it’s relatively simple to take ACTA’s recommended core curriculum in 21 to 27 credit hours, pointing to a lack of school focus on these subjects.

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