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RYAN BAKKEN: He doesn't buy Princeton Review's UND ranking

Again this year, the Princeton Review tells us that UND students are slackers. I'm not buying it. Sure, some UND students may not be totally committed to scholarly pursuits. But, that's OK, because UND's fraternities need members. (Just kidding, ...

Again this year, the Princeton Review tells us that UND students are slackers.

I'm not buying it.

Sure, some UND students may not be totally committed to scholarly pursuits. But, that's OK, because UND's fraternities need members. (Just kidding, Greeks. Please don't retaliate with a panty raid).

For the second year in a row, UND has been ranked No. 1 in the country for fewest hours devoted to studying.

And, why aren't they studying? Well, according to the review's 2009 rankings, it's because they're hung over. UND was then ranked the No. 5 for not studying, No. 15 for drinking volume and No. 18 for partying, which appears to be redundant.

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Although you won't find these rankings in UND's promotional brochures, they might be contributing to the school's growth in attendance. Picture yourself as an 18-year-old high school graduate looking for a campus that has: A) lots of frothy entertainment options and B) scant hours of studying that interferes with frothy entertainment options.

From my experience, not many prospective students have that view, however. What I see are considerably more serious, more highly motivated students than during my college years (1969-73). Check the evidence:

_ Back then, the biggest incentive to continue schooling likely was this: It lessened the likelihood of dying. That was a big motivation.

This was the time of the Vietnam War. You temporarily could avoid the military with a student deferment.

These days, students don't have to attend college to avoid a less desirable outcome such as death. They go to college to learn.

_ By my math, college is about 10 times more expensive than in my day. Yearly tuition, fees, room and board averaged $1,800, a cost that didn't require massive student loans. With costs these days, students can't afford to dawdle or they will be paying off their student loans with their Social Security checks.

With the cost of college, unless mommy and daddy are paying for all of it, students can't afford to be slackers.

_ There's greater competition now in the classroom and the workplace. Fewer than half of high school graduates took further schooling in my day, meaning I had less competition in the labor pool. Now, almost everyone does. A four-year college diploma no longer guarantees a lucrative and rewarding job. Often, further schooling is required. You don't get into graduate school by sloughing through four years.

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_ The other evidence is anecdotal. The college students I've met seem more highly motivated -- and much smarter -- than those in my day.

To clarify, the Princeton Review has no connection to Princeton University of the Ivy League. Nor do I have any connection to the Ivy League.

But I'm smart enough to know that the quality and quantity of college students have improved from 40 years ago. Not studying? I doubt it.

But are they too cool to admit that they're studying? Maybe.

Reach Bakken at (701) 780-1125; (800) 477-6572, ext. 125; or send e-mail to rbakken@gfherald.com .

Related Topics: EDUCATION
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