Doonesbury Highlights Current College Woes

Barry Lenson

Doonesbury Highlights Current College Woes

A recent Doonesbury shows a college president looking out of his office window at the campus that lies outside. “To think this was a once proud institution,” he says. Then he adds mournfully, “I wonder what we were once proud of.”

Then a college administrator comes into the president’s office and hands him a report that documents the fact that half of all college students learn nearly nothing during their first two years of study. Doonesbury doesn’t name what this report is, but it bears a striking resemblance to the book Academically Adrift by Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa, which made a big splash earlier this year when it reported the same finding.

Through the rest of the strip, the president and the administrator discuss the sad realities that confront colleges today. Students don’t learn much, because they are more interested in socializing than studying. The real priority is to convince parents that there is a reason to send their kids to school. And when those four years of expensive study are over, no jobs are waiting in the real world for college grads.

Dismal, isn’t it? And it makes us wonder if similar conversations are really taking place in the offices of American college presidents right now. Like most Doonesbury strips, this one is almost funny because it is based on something that is all too real.

And do you know what? This Doonesbury realy hurts. And for obvious reasons, we’re not laughing about it.

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