Declining by Degrees : Join the Discussion

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5/3/06 Much of "Declining by Degrees" was liberal nonsense about their revisionist concepts of an America social contract. The film promoted the GI Bill as some part of our forgotten past, yet the GI Bill still exists today. I attended college on the GI Bill and the Navy College Fund. Beyond the historical fallacies, the producers clearly either did not understand economics, or chose to ignore economics. They claim education at good schools has become too expensive because we failed our social contract. Yet, they also showed how schools are overflowing with students while they also build resort-like campuses. [more] The simple fact is that plenty of money is available to students who want to attend college, and as a consequence, colleges are competing on luxuries rather than costs. My alma mater has a Zen garden on campus. To bolster their absurd claims, the producers show poor students who either attend community colleges or work full-time to pay tuition. They even highlight one student who withdrew from classes three weeks before the end of the semester because she had money troubles. Yet, the producers ignore the economic ignorance that allows students to make such decisions. It would be better to not work full-time, borrow money and graduate early. Alas, such wisdom is absent from the producers, the social activist experts and the students highlighted. Reply to this commentBruce Sabin FL
4/11/06 I feel college is not a end all and as many have said, it's not for everybody. I feel it is also not for every job or industry to have its field filtered through the college system. All one has to do is count how many "film school sucks" shirts just to see what's happening. Film pros could care less about the next intern's GPA or what they got in micronomics, microbiology or even calculus. Unless you are trying to be a bean counter for a studio, hard academics is not a "must" to be a director, editor, grip, make up artist or even a CGI geek. The irony is that a really good "film education" makes one a horrible film rookie. Reply to this commentJames Heggs NY
2/16/06 I think that overall the documentary was well put together. It was intriguing and insightful to the general audience. I think that the documentary's weakness was that it did not interview students who do not work which would have added to the variety it offered. Also, it seemed to focus on the downside but did not allow for any criticism or other point of view. Just some observations. Glad that the documentary featured my school, Western Kentucky University. Go Hilltoppers and shout out to our school mascot, Big Red. Reply to this commentKimberley Claypool KY
1/18/06 The institutions of higher education have become "business of higher eduction." While this may be a natural evolution, I think that this course propels academics to a secondary position, with survival being first. There are many other inputs into this process that need to be considered. I am an adult learner, and have taught business and marketing at a private college as an adjunct for over 15 years. [more] One input to consider is the quality of the product that walks into the college arena. What are we doing at the high school level to really prepare students for the academic and social/cultural realities of college? The second input is the quality of the instructors. Inspired teaching that engages the student and that makes learning a process of discovery is rare at the college level. The reliance on technology and lecture is just not making the connection with students. The third input is the community and family unit, and the importance placed on hard work, academics, and ethics. There are school systems in communities that consistently deliver high quality, well prepared students to the academic community. Shouldn't this the the norm rather than the exception? Finally, not only this country, but the global community stands to lose if the decay in academics continues in the U. S. Consider all the international students who come to this country every year, and pay the highest tuition rates in order to gain an education from our system. I think this documentary raises some important issues, and I plan to use it in several courses that I instruct. Reply to this commentMerle Davis MI
11/18/05 After watching "Declining by Degrees", reading the book, and reading the website, I set up a preview and discussion session with our faculty. Even if no one showed up (Fridays are quiet in this community college), I'm not discouraged. I intend to follow up and keep on trying to raise awareness of the key issues raised in DbD. This site is a wonderful resource. Reply to this commentAlberto Ramirez MD
11/1/05 Great site - excellent interviews. Thank God someone is finally talking about these issues, and the general failure of universities to do their jobs. Reply to this commentKeith Hampson Toronto, Canada
10/13/05 I thought "Declining By Degrees" was good, however, you never mentioned non-traditional students (such as myself) who work 40 hours a week while going to community college. It takes a lot of effort and hard work. I never took SAT's and had to learn algebra which I never took in High School. I was afraid of college; in high school counselors made it seem impossible for someone such as me to get into college. "You have to take SAT's," they said. I think nontraditional learners, such as myself, were not given complete information on the college picture. Nor were you. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO TAKE SAT's if you have a ASSOCIATE's DEGREE. I got some of my credits through Assessment of Prior Learning which is a great college program that gave me 50 college credits. College was fun and being an older nontraditional student I found my experience to be excellent. Reply to this commentRobert Williams, Jr. VT
9/23/05 I am sad to hear all of this, especially because I am only in my 3rd year of Community College and was anxious to one day transfer to a 4 year university. It makes me sad that after so many years of people telling me that college is good and that I should go to a university, etc. etc., that the question comes up: "Is it really your money's worth?" I don't plan on hearing this and not doing anything about it. I am going to take full advantage of my being able to go to college. I want to make it the best college experience ever and leave it educated. Reply to this commentIngrid Villafranca WA
9/19/05 This is the best and most relevant documentary I�ve seen in a long time. I was most interested in the segment about how little work is required of students. I found this to be the case during my education. I always got higher grades than I expected. I found that I could do the minimum amount of work and still get good grades. I think that most kids at that age are not mature enough to do the work when it�s not expected or required by teachers. [more] Entering graduate school, I expected the program to be more rigorous than my undergraduate program�and I was ready to do the work. However, I even found my graduate program to be much less challenging than I expected. As a teacher�s assistant I found that students expected to get A�s just for doing the work. There was no thought for the quality of the work. The one exception I observed at school was in the engineering programs. I was a social science undergraduate and could get by doing the minimum work; however, engineering students I knew had to do much more work just to keep up. It probably has to do with the nature of engineering and hard sciences. Is this just a symptom of the social sciences? I wish the program had explored this a little more. Reply to this commentName withheld by request
9/5/05 I am proud to note that this book is beginning the dialogue that is so important and unfortunately past due. I'm also pleased to note that my university, the University of Connecticut, has taken what is promised as only the first step: a book discussion group involving faculty, staff, administration, and others outside the university. I'm excited to have been chosen to help lead these discussions. I have read and am studying the book and finally have been able to watch my copy of the DVD. Both are excellent and filled with much good information. One sad item to note: Our local PBS system chose to show the program on a summer Sunday afternoon when I and I'm sure many others had previous plans. I would like to see this program repeated now that school is back in session - at a time more conducive for people to see it and maybe even with a companion panel discussion involving appropriate individuals familiar with the book/DVD and connected with the very important topics associated with both. Reply to this commentJohn Bennett

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