Higher education needs higher expectations

In his State of the State speech, Gov. Brian Sandoval called for cuts in higher education subsidies, and he answered concerns about the potential consequences by saying, "Perhaps a new system is precisely what we need in this new era."

A new report backs him up. Based on the book "Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses," the study says roughly half of American undergraduates show no gains in analytic reasoning, writing and critical thinking skills by the end of their sophomore year. Based on transcripts, test scores and surveys of 3,000 full-time students at 29 campuses, the report had other troubling conclusions:

— Today’s students spend 50 percent less time studying than the students of decades past.

— Half of students said they never took a class that required them to write more than 20 pages in a semester, and a third never took a course that required them to read more than 40 pages per week.

— Students’ social lives and networking are a bigger priority than their studies, and instructors are more focused on their research than teaching freshmen and sophomores.

It’s past time for much higher expectations and new missions in higher education — not to mention better results.

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