Students need to step up their game

By Editorial Board

According to the Fall 2010 Fact Book recently released by the Office of Research, Evaluation and Planning, Columbia’s graduation rates are embarrassingly low.

The report shows of students who came to Columbia as freshmen in 2003, only 27 percent graduated in their fourth year, 33 percent graduated by their fifth year and 37 percent graduated by their sixth year at the college. As Vice President of Student Affairs Mark Kelly told The Chronicle in the Sept. 27, 2010 issue, the college’s graduation rates are slowly rising. As of the spring 2010 semester, the rate was up to 40 percent throughout six years.

However, these rates are too low, and most of the blame lies squarely with Columbia’s students. A handful of valid reasons—such as transferring to another college or pursuing career opportunities that present themselves before graduation—can contribute to the low rates, but other students don’t seem to take their Columbia education seriously. Many students show up and expect art school to be easy. When they find out it’s actually quite a lot of work, they either fail or drop out if they can’t keep up.

Columbia is a great college for a wide variety of arts, media and communications disciplines, but an education can only be as good as a student makes it.

Earning a degree in the arts is no easier than earning one in chemistry or biology, and if students want to pursue careers they’re passionate about, they will have to work hard. People who aren’t willing to put forth the effort to make something of their education and graduate in six years’ time are responsible for bringing Columbia’s graduation rates down and making the college look bad.

The college should look into adjusting its lenient admissions policy and the way it markets itself to attract students who will be more serious about their goals. Apathetic students waste their money by coming here and also cause the college to waste resources that could support more motivated students who actively want to complete their education.

Setting higher grade or test score requirements could be problematic because great artists can’t always be judged by their performance in school, but some sort of portfolio requirement or evaluation of incoming students’ skill levels and dedication could work well. It would help separate the people who can make the most of Columbia from those who think art school will just be an easy way to slack off after high school.

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