Efficiency vs. Effectiveness

I’m confused by Higher Education’s obsession with four year graduation. I was taught to never confuse efficiency with effectiveness.

For nearly a decade, we’ve known the national average on bachelor’s degree completion to be 5.5 years. And anyone who has ever been responsible for sitting on a search committee, knows that a 3.5 will be hired over a 3.o regardless of whether the former took two years longer tan the latter. So why the obsession?

We also know that when a student works as few as twenty hours a week, it will have a negative effect on that student’s ability to be successful in more than 12 credit hours in that term. There are 168 hours in a week, so assuming the basic recommendation to spend two to three hours a week studying outside of class for every hour you spend in class, with the following break down would ensue.

Activity  Hours/ Week
Class 15
Study 30
Sleep 56
work 20
meals 21
to bed/awake 8
miscellaneous 18
Total 168

We see there is a scant 18 hours in a week to deal in things like commuting to and from class, getting to and from work, relaxing, and being something other than a “Stepford Student” — and that is only if the students studies at a 2:1 ratio. Fewer than three hours a day is not a lot of wiggle room, and when midterms and finals come around, that 30 hours per week studying is going to fly through the roof.

Wrap this all up with the fact that it took me six years for my Bachelor’s in Music, and four years for my MA, (I’ll stack my 3.6 undergrad and 4.0 graduate GPAs against any fellow candidate in a job interview), and you can see why I start to twitch a little when institutions beat the drum for their precious four to six year graduation rate.


About Art

I'm the Director of Academic Advising at Quincy College. I'm hoping this can be a place to express the occasional thought that may mean something to someone. . .we'll see. I'm also a musician--I play the string bass in primarily the jazz and classical idioms (though I love many kinds of music and have played everything from folk and bluegrass to new wave and hard rock). And, as an Italian-American, I love good food and good wine. . .basically,don't be surprised by posts on any of the topics mentioned above ;)
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