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Most college students graduate without being required to take ‘fundamental courses,’ report finds

Is this really worth $200,000?

That’s the question posed by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni in a new report and rating system, What Will They Learn?

ACTA says in a press release today that only 24 schools out of 1,100 examined received its “A” grade. Their graduation requirements include

at least six of seven subjects that are essential to a liberal arts education: literature, composition, economics, math, intermediate-level foreign language, science and American government/history.

Those 24 schools are heavy on Catholic and evangelical colleges, including Baylor, Jerry Falwell’s Regent, Pepperdine and two St. John’s. They are described at length as “hidden gems.”

Though the report doesn’t explicitly list the biggest failures, it identifies the University of California-Berkeley and Brown University as Fs in the FAQ section, explaining why they were outdone by Kennesaw State and Gardener-Webb, which both got As.

The report website lets users compare schools against each other, listing which must-know subjects are required, tuition and 4-year graduation rate. In a random comparison by The College Fix, Harvard and the University of Virginia got Ds, Yale got a C and the University of Chicago got a B.


Among the “vast gaps in skills and knowledge” that students have when they graduate, economics, “intermediate” foreign language and U.S. history/government stand out, ACTA says:

 “One wonders what tuition and tax dollars are going toward when most colleges don’t require basic economics, foreign language, American history or even literature,” said Dr. Michael Poliakoff, director of the What Will They Learn?™ project. “Are we really preparing our nation’s next generation of leaders when our colleges are failing to ensure that students have the skills and knowledge they need for successful careers?”

Nearly two in three schools received either a B or C.

Read the release and the report.

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Greg Piper served as associate editor of The College Fix from 2014 to 2021.