“Ease pressure” “without sacrificing rigor”? That’s not an easy task.

MISMATCH STRIKES AGAIN: If you are a subscriber to the Chronicle of Higher Education, you may have seen an article entitled How a Liberal Arts College Is Rethinking Its “Soul Crushing” Core Curriculum. Reading between the lines, you’ll be able to see that it’s a good illustration of how affirmative-action mismatch doesn’t just harm the individual students it is intended to benefit; it ends up feeding identity politics and creating student pressure to water down the curriculum and grading scale. The article (behind a paywall) begins this way:

When Art Reyes received a generous scholarship to attend Harvey Mudd College, an elite engineering, science, and math-oriented institution in Claremont, Calif., he and his parents, both immigrants from Mexico, were thrilled. An alum warned him that tackling the intense coursework would be “like trying to drink water from a fire hose,” but the high-school salutatorian felt up to the challenge.

Reality soon caught up with him. With six classes and a lab in his first semester, his days and nights often stretched to 2 or 3 a.m. Sleep-deprived and stressed, he found himself slipping behind his classmates with whom he was wading lockstep through a notoriously challenging core curriculum. By his sophomore year, he had to take a semester off to catch up at a community college. His self-confidence was shattered.

Reyes later learned that he had plenty of company in feeling overwhelmed by the college’s academic requirements. In complaints first to mental-health counselors and then to outside evaluators, students described feeling like they had little time for showers or sleep, much less extracurricular activities or time to reflect.

The problem was particularly acute among the growing number of first-generation and minority students whose frustrations exploded to the surface last year after a leaked report quoted professors complaining that the college’s focus on diversity had caused standards to slip.

Students protested, classes were canceled for two days, and a period of soul-searching began. This year, Harvey Mudd, which is part of the Claremont Colleges consortium, is taking a hard look at its core curriculum and the mental-health and counseling services it offers students.

A curriculum committee is considering how to ease pressure on students without sacrificing rigor. But divisions remain among the faculty about whether this is a good idea, or just pandering to students who lack the work ethic or preparation needed to succeed.

“Ease pressure” “without sacrificing rigor”?  That’s not an easy task.

Once again I offer the following articles in order to understand why our campuses behave as they do: Want to be a Doctor? A Scientist? An Engineer? An Affirmative Action Leg Up May Hurt Your Chances and A “Dubious Expediency:” How Race-Preferential Admissions Policies on Campus Hurt Minority Students. This is serious. Harvey Mudd College is one of the last places to abandon a rigorous curriculum. Their graduates build our bridges and aircraft and things you really don’t want to go wrong.

And one student’s “soul crushing” core curriculum is another student’s educational adventure of a lifetime.

 

 

h/t GH