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Higher enrollment breaks down academic standards

By Adam Troxtell
On February 16, 2011

The other day, a few of my friends and I had our first exam in a journalism class. Our professor has a specific way of doing things when it comes to his tests: you need a bluebook, you should take your time in answering the questions, and he wants you to be as detailed as possible with your answer without being too lengthy. We all have had this professor before, so we knew the drill.

About five minutes into the test, a student walked in late. He grabbed the exam at the front of the room and sat down. It could not have been 20 minutes later when he stood and walked to the front of the room to turn his "test" in. He had no bluebook, just sheets of paper. Our professor allowed him to use notebook paper, but this student only turned in one page with what was supposed to be answers to 12 essay questions. It was barely front and back, and our professor was none too pleased.

It was a clear lack of effort and motivation on the student's part, especially when it comes to this class. This class is one of the more difficult of the required courses for a journalism degree, yet he treated it like it was just a walk in the park, or more like a walk from the bedroom to the kitchen. This was not just one isolated incident of blatant laziness I have witnessed in my classes. Unfortunately, it seems to be a growing trend.

This causes me to wonder, as the university sets enrollment goals higher and higher each year, whether we are getting the kind of people that we should want to be on our campus. In our pursuit to attain a higher and more impressive student population, the standards and expectations of incoming students cannot be lowered in a sort of twisted trade-off.

There is no doubting the importance of advertising the university and attracting more students. But, at what cost are we willing to increase our numbers by astronomical amounts? This university should want only those students who want to be here or in college period.

I do not have any hard evidence to suggest A&M-Commerce is shrugging off its responsibility to enroll only those students that meet the standards and have a desire to learn more. All I know is what I see, and I understand that's probably not much. However, with the goals our university appears to be setting, it can be easy to fall into the trap of trading quality for quantity. Any healthy university finds a balance for both. If in reality A&M-Commerce is dropping its standards for the ability to stroke its ego over a few numbers, I do fear for its future and the future of the students it will cart through each semester.

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