"Shall vocational studies be accepted for entrance to college?" Before entering upon a discussion of the question it seems necessary to define "College" as the educational institution which confers upon its graduates the first bachelor's degree—A.B., B.S., or Ph.B. By vocational studies we mean those studies, which, either by their very nature or because of the point of view from which they are taught, tend to prepare directly for specific efficiency in handicraft, business, or profession.
The importance of thorough preparation of applicants for admission to college is not questioned by any observant teacher of a secondary school. Experience has taught that lack of preparation is not only discouraging to the ill-prepared student who attempts to do advanced work, but detrimental to others who are obliged to work with him; some of their time is spent unprofitably and his development is hindered if not wholly prevented. The success of class instruction depends upon proper grading. Not to recognize this fact, not to secure proper conditions in this respect, is to invite failure.
In Estate of Butler v. Maharishi University of Management, a federal court recognized a cause of action against a private university for negligent admission of a student after a student with a history of mental illness fatally stabbed a fellow student in the campus dining hall. As a matter of public policy, this was a bad decision. Colleges and universities cannot reasonably screen student applicants for evidence of their propensities for violence. If the Butler case signals a judicial trend, colleges and universities should press for legislation in all fifty states that bars lawsuits against higher education institutions for claims arising from their student admission decisions.
Economic Hardship Deferments and Income-Based Repayment Plans provide overburdened student-loan debtors with some relief, but they do not solve the underlying crisis in the federal student loan program.
Recently, there have been signs that the bankruptcy courts are becoming more compassionate toward people who enter the bankruptcy process burdened by student loans. Perhaps the most dramatic of these recent cases is Myhre v. U.S. Department of Education, involving a quadriplegic man who filed for bankruptcy seeking to discharge $14,000 in student loans.
While the prevalence of remediation has generated widespread concern about the college readiness of our nation’s high school graduates, comparatively little attention has been paid to how “readiness” is actually determined. At most community colleges and at many nonselective four-year colleges, readiness is determined by scores on short standardized math and English placement tests. This commentary describes research finding that assignment to remedial or college-level courses based on standardized placement exams results in large numbers of placement errors, and that incorporating high school transcript information would lead to fewer assignments to remediation while maintaining or increasing success rates in college-level Math and English.
Over creditors' objections, a bankruptcy court in Ohio discharged the student-loan debt of a single mother of two who was living below the poverty level.
This commentary surveys the principal issues with student loan policy in the US.
Bankruptcy judges are increasingly willing to rely on compassion and common sense when they decide cases involving honest but unfortunate student-loan debtors who took on mountains of student-loan debt hoping to improve their lives but did not find jobs that paid well enough for them to reasonably make their loan payments.
In an influential concurring opinion to an important bankruptcy decision, Judge Jim Pappas, an Idaho bankruptcy judge, urged federal courts to adopt a more sensible way for dealing with student loan debtors who file for bankruptcy.