Students arriving at the nine campuses of the University of California are so poorly prepared that the university spends $5 million a year for remedial and "pre-remedial" programs, the system's board of regents was told this month.
One professor told the regents' Committee on Educational Policy that "the disaster area is at the junior high school" and blamed poor teaching and a shortage of counseling services at this level for the substandard skills of entering freshmen.
Some 55 percent of entering freshmen were enrolled in remedial English programs in 1980, compared to 48 percent in 1976.
"Even more critical," said another professor "is that several campuses are now offering pre-remedial English courses and pre-pre-calculus courses."
The university's board of admissions has developed a proposal that would raise from 11 to 16 the number of year-long academic courses prospective students must take in basic subjects and require that seven of the courses be taken during the last two years of high school.
If adopted by the regents, the plan will go into effect in 1986.
Indiana University's new "Advance College Project" is designed to bring the university and regional high schools closer together in nurturing the most able college-bound students. Under the plan, qualified students in area school districts will be able to receive college credit for special courses in English, mathematics, and chemistry. High-school teachers participating in the project will actually be named adjunct faculty members at the university.
"This may be the first proposal I've seen in which everyone 'wins,"' said Kenneth Gros Louis, a university vice president. "It may enhance the proportion of students who elect to attend college, it should ease the shock of the first college semester, and it will strengthen school-college cooperation. There can never be too much of that."
They were discussing feelings of physical and emotional exhaustion, of being "professionally stuck," of depression and despair. They called the syndrome by its common name, "burnout."
They said their students "come with less academic background, and they need more remediation. Some are disrespectful and others are downright hostile."
They spoke of "plugged-up mobility and a general sense of retraction--if not outright retrenchment--with declining economic and social status."
They were, they said, inundated with assignments but "expected to take new and creative approaches" to their work. Society's values are changing, they added, but they themselves are supposed to uphold traditional values and not change. Parents want them to work on the basics, and supervisors want something else. They are "torn all different ways."
It sounded like a gathering of teachers, and it was--but not of teachers at the elementary or secondary level. The comments were made by college and university faculty members, who met this month under the auspices of the City University of New York, its professional union, and Networks, an organization dealing with higher-education issues, to talk about the same problem that plagues their colleagues in schools.
Burnout, said one speaker, afflicts at least 20 percent of the more than 300,000 teaching academics and a significant number of administrators as well.
Harvard today, Everytown High School tomorrow?
The dean of students' office at that prestigious institution's law school was swamped with calls last week after The Wall Street Journal reported on the policy problem that developed there in January when two enterprising law-school students walked into their final exams with, not briefcases, but, er, computers under their arms.
According to a spokesman in the dean's office, the two were allowed to complete the "open-book" exams by typing into the mini-computers instead of in longhand. But, she said, it made other students "very anxious" and they complained to the dean.
One of the two offenders countered that his peers "overestimated" the value of using the computer as a typing machine and storage device for course notes. While it was faster to delete sentences and fix misspellings, he said, it took longer to "scroll" back through his material and transfer material from the machine's memory into the text.
How did the exam turn out? "It didn't help me much. I was mediocre,'' he said.
Meanwhile, the questions raised--apparently, for the first time that anyone knows of--by the advanced portable technology as an exam weapon are being addressed by an administrative board, comprising administrators, faculty members, and students of the law school. That group's report is expected within days, the spokesman said.
--By Martha Matzke