Lack of Education on American College Campuses


Take a look at this excellent blog by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach (of t.v. fame), regarding the sexual antics and lack of knowledge abounding on today’s college campuses–something for all Catholic parents to consider, especially the closing paragraphs:

The Corruption of the American Campus
Beware of sending your kids–especially daughters–to college, where drinking and ‘hooking up’ has replaced education.

A few highlights from the blog:

"Not that the universities are succeeding in educating students anyway. I run a small office of employees and regularly interview candidates right out of college. A great many with degrees cannot spell , have scant knowledge of punctuation and grammar, and are utterly ignorant of history and world affairs. At UC Berkeley, freshmen who took a national test focusing on history and general knowledge scored, on average, 60 percent. Seniors, incredibly, averaged only 55 percent, earning the storied university a negative learning rank (Oakland Tribune). Fifteen other universities, including Johns Hopkins, also earned negative learning ranks. It’s incredible to contemplate that students may actually become more stupid, rather than more smart, after four years of college. Another study by the National Association of Scholars found that today’s college students are barely more knowledgeable than high school students were 50 years ago.

When I was the rabbi at Oxford University for 11 years, I often marveled at the university’s failure to instill a sense of intellectual curiosity in its students. True, there were the elite American students on special scholarships like the Rhodes, Fulbright, and Marshall who were sponges for information. But few other students cared about even reading a newspaper.

A USA Today study showed that more than 50 percent of college students at four-year institutions do not understand arguments of newspaper editorials, are unable to compare credit-card offers of different interest rates and fees, and cannot interpret a table of exercise and blood pressure.

For most young people today, going to university is less about getting an education than acquiring freedom and the ability to experiment. Breaking free of parental supervision, they spend four years drinking, partying, and ‘hooking up.’

At Oxford, the university provided a good education in the arts and the sciences. But in personal matters, most students regressed. They drank themselves to oblivion and bounced from relationship to relationship, acquiring emotional scars in the process. None of this augured well for their later ability to enter into and thrive in a long-term, intimate relationships. Is it any wonder then, that the most educated generation of all time also has the highest divorce rate, when there is a direct correlation between amount of time spent at university and the number of casual sexual encounters that are had?

I now believe that parents should be looking at single-sex and religiously inclined alternatives to the mainstream universities for their sons and daughters–places that truly are about maturing, being educated, and being prepared for the mastery of both the professional and personal sectors.

I attended rabbinical college. There were no women. We were there to study, not socialize. When people ask me today how young rabbis have so much information, I tell them it has less to do with any kind of genius and more to do with the absence of socializing with the opposite sex. True, we may not have had as much entertainment. But then, universities are supposed to be more about libraries and classrooms than nightclubs and bars."



He’s exactly right. Universities today don’t so much try to actually educate (that is, pursue and disseminate the truth), but indoctrinate students as they teach them to think ‘critically’ of issues which really don’t matter. Actually confronting the heart of human existence and the problems (and hope!) we can encounter there involves making value judgments and discerning between right and wrong, a distinction the modern university is loathe to make.

So we have classes on “Gender and Sexuality in Pop Music,” “Postmodern Narratives in Rap and Hip-Hop,” “Anime in Japanese Culture,” etc… and the liberal arts are neglected.

Not to mention theology and real philosophy, which are not authentically studied except for at a very few (Catholic) institutions.

It’s a sad situation, and one indicative of a broader cultural apathy–people have stopped pursuing wisdom. Who cares about wisdom? All they think they need is a degree to get them higher pay and more prestige. It’s quite, quite sad and does not bode well for our future. Anyone who doesn’t see that is in denial.


With respect, I think a couple of things need to be kept in mind.

To begin with, the role of College is teaching, spelling, grammer or punctuation. Those are skills that the student needs to enter College with. In addition, except for those who major in history, it is not the role of College to provide students with a solid underpinning of general history (let alone general knowledge). College these days is more akin to a vocational school, allowing students to concentrate on the subject areas that the student is going to be working on when they leave college.

Now, regarding the social attitudes in college, I have no doubt that this is a valid criticism. Again though, this is nothing new. Students have been rebelling against the established norms of society almost as long as there have been colleges.



Oh come on now! Talk to any engineering student and you will discover they are busy with far more than hooking up (not that they don’t do that on occasion). They are taking courses in Physics, Computer Science, and Mathematics. Hardly lightweight subjects. Yes, they get some electives. Maybe they choose to spend it on Russian Literature in Translation (a course I actually took at Loyola ), maybe they choose to spend it on a course on Feminism or Anime. Whatever, it’s their elective and can make a nice counterpoint to all the challenging courses they’re taking in their discipline. If you don’t know grammar and spelling before you get to college, you won’t know it afterward. It is not the job of college to provide remediation because you didn’t apply yourself in grammar school.

As for hooking up…duh. That was going on in the 80’s when I was in school. And don’t cast the girl in the role of victim, many times they are as much into “manizing” as the boys are womanizing. It’s an equal opportunity world out there!


In America it is the job of the college to teach at least basic history to all students. We have a thing called general education which usually includes two history courses.


Well all this is ridiculous.

In these days, college is where you learn a trade. You major in the job you want to get: that’s how the world is set up. Otherwise, no one in HR will bother with you, you won’t get an interview, you won’t get a job.

If you want the liberal arts, you’ll have to study for yourself—the poseurs who are liberal arts professors are usually teaching worthless and radical lefty stuff.


I attended college in the 80s with a science focus, and if I took a history course, I honestly do not remember it! I do remember all the biology, anatomy, and chemistry courses. I remember comparative anatomy. I remember learning all the phylums, families, genus… I remember English and literature, because that is/was my other love. I remember German. I remember all my theology and comparative religion classes. I studied Greek and Roman history while traveling there for a month. Can’t for the life of me pull up my history course (if any), though. So I think I maybe didn’t take one…
I went to a Catholic liberal arts college.


I’m a sophomore at Michigan State University…a school with quite the reputation for being a party school. I have to say MSU has not lived up to its reputation. I’m not going to say I never party…but I don’t often. The last party I went to was in early January, right after we got from Christmas break and I hadn’t seen my friends for three weeks. I’m too busy to party.

The classes I’m taking (physics, chemistry, biology, statistics…the list goes on and on) don’t leave me much time for partying. The same is true for my friends, who are music majors, engineering majors and an education major.

The people that live around me in the dorms don’t party much either and there is hardly any random hooking up in the circles I travel with. It does happen but its not as wide spread as that article makes it out to be.


You do realize that colleges are not required or mandated by anyone to teach anything. The closest you get in this country is accredidation, and that is a purely voluntary process that is self regulated.

As for individual colleges, most of them implement general requirements in some sense, but they can be very different. At the Catholic College I got my degree in history from, two history classes were required; in a public University I went for my computer training, 3 social science classes were required, but they could be in any two social sciences I wanted. When I was originally applying for college, I distinctly remember Johns Hopkins did not require any general education courses. They were perfectly happy with letting you concentrate on your major courses right away.

In any case, lets say that they do have the two history course requirement. You need 120 credits to graduate from college, two courses is generally 6 credits. So you only spend 5% of your time studying history. Honestly, compared to the years you spend studying history in middle school and graduate school, if you don’t have the basics down by the time you get to college, you aren’t going to get them from 2 classes.



Hey there! I’m also at Michigan State, in my second year as well. And from your signature I see that you’re an athiest… I’m agnostic at the moment but searching around. Seems we have a lot in common.

I don’t party at all… I think its pretty silly to spend all your time drinking. I have a lot of biology and chemistry so I spend quite a bit of time studying as well. I think its possible to be at college and stay away from that scene. You just have to be motivated and have a strong support system.


I wasn’t saying that it was going to teach you anything. I was merely making the point that most colleges require such classes. As a history major I have to also take classes in science and math along with things more in line with my major. It’s fine with me, though, because I’m a nerd. Also, I don’t know if universities teach or not. I have an extremely high intelligence, so I don’t learn anything really. I don’t know about most students, though.


Having read the article, attained one degree at a four year university, and now working on another degree at a technical institute, I would actually put more emphasis on the students and their attitudes rather than the university. Yes, both are complicit but students are the ones who choose to be in college.

There are students in my current degree program that I would never have allowed to graduate elementary school let alone high school with how poor and inadeqate their writing, speaking, and general knowledge skills are. I am not that much older than most of these students but the differences in levels of education is astounding. It seems to me that students and the education they receive before they even contemplate college is a major factor in determining if they succeed in college. Apparently standards in schools must have been lowered in the last few years because that is the only way I can explain the lack of ability and knowledge. Writing, speaking skills, knowledge in several subject including history was hammered into me starting pretty young in school and went all the way through high school. If you haven’t learned by then, the university isn’t going to waste its time teaching remedial basics.

Most students when they go to college choose to learn. Some choose never to learn. But if you have that desire to absorb as much knowledge and learning as possible, you can do quite well. There are many students that do not want to put the effort into learning and that is the biggest factor in determining whether a student is there to learn or not. They want to be told the answers and not be required to think in any way, shape, or form.

I see that a lot in my current classes and it ticks me off. But then I love to learn and understand putting the necessary effort into my work is beneficial to me rather than harmful.

People do not want to think, not to put in the effort, want life to made easy for them, and to have everything coming up roses. Life is nothing like that, thankfully, and reality will hit these people when they least expect it.

I’m only pointing out what I’ve seen and experienced first hand and is not necessarily true for all colleges or all students.


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