| February 1, 2010

Study Points Up Higher-Ed Shortcomings

What students are actually learning in America's colleges may astonish you.

On February 10, the nonprofit, nonpartisan educational organization the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI) will release its fourth annual report assessing how well America's colleges and universities are preparing graduates for lives of informed and responsible citizenship.

This year's groundbreaking National Civic Literacy Report, "The Shaping of the American Mind," clearly shows that college fails to give graduates a grasp of essential elements of American history, government, and economics. The study also measures for the first time the impact that earning a bachelor's degree has on forming public opinion.

Among the findings in this scientific study:

  • More than one-third of college graduates cannot identify the three branches of government;
  • Only 24 percent of college graduates know that the phrase "government of the people, by the people, for the people" comes from Lincoln's Gettysburg Address; and
  • Only 17 percent of college graduates can accurately distinguish free markets from centralized planning.

So what does college do? It pushes opinion leftward on the most polarizing social issues.

  • College makes people more likely to support same-sex marriage and abortion on demand, and less likely to support school prayer and the American work ethic;
  • A college degree moves a person toward the Democrat/liberal side of the political spectrum, while greater civic knowledge moves a person toward the Republican/conservative pole of the spectrum; and
  • College professors are more likely than non-professors to believe that America corrupts otherwise good people, that the Ten Commandments are irrelevant, and that educators should instill more doubt among students.

In short, the findings in "The Shaping of the American Mind" sharply illustrate the real-world failure of a college degree and the politicized nature of higher education. For a copy of the report, visit

- Intercollegiate Studies Institute

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