About those dumb American students....
Total spending for U.S. public colleges and universities in 1960: $17 billion.
In 1992: $97 billion.

Foreign student enrollment in 1976: 179,000.
In 1992: 420,000.

Number of Nobel Prize laureates in physics, chemistry, physiology from United States universities, since 1900: 162. (World's highest; Britain is second with less than half that many.)
Number from Japan: 4.
Number of Nobel laureates in those fields from the U.S. since 1976: 63.
In the rest of the world: 39.

...and the people who teach them
Do we know what we're doing? Everybody used to think so. Not any more. Higher education used to be given a kind of blanket trust by a society which assumed professors knew what their doing to produce learned graduates. But since the beginning of the last decade, that trust has been eroding, says Karl Schilling, director of a higher education assessment forum in Washington, D.C.

Schilling spoke one winter at NDSU, warning faculty that "legislatures are increasingly asking if they are getting their money's worth." That is, the politicians want to know if you're smarter on the way out than you were on the way in, and they no longer trust the viewpoint of the teachers.

In fact, Schilling says nationally professors seem to be "dumbing down" the curriculum, making it easier to get higher grades. This kind of watering down could lead to actual competency testing--you'll get a battery of tests on your way out to see if you remember what you supposedly learned.

But are NDSU instructors dumbing down as well? The national Grade Point Average for college and university students is about 3.3. At NDSU it's about 2.4.

Copyright 2004 by Ross F. Collins <www.ndsu.edu/communication/collins>