Website Grades Schools on General Education

Rankings determine if students get what they pay for

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    Not a single Illinois school earned an "A".

    The tables were turned on colleges and universities across the nation when a school-ranking website handed out its own report cards.

    WhatWillTheyLearn.com, a free website, evaluated more than 700 schools on their general education courses. According to the site, these are the seven core subjects which all students should have a strong foundation in, regardless of their chosen field of study: American Government or History, Foreign Language, Science, Composition, Mathematics, Economics, and Literature.

    Each college or university was given a grade from "A" to "F," based on what subjects each school requires for graduation.

    So how did Illinois schools fare?

    Not a single college or university in the state scored an "A."

    Ouch. We hope there's a grading curve.

    WhatWillTheyLearn.com gave only five schools a "B": Bradley University, Illinois State University, Northeastern Illinois University, University of Chicago, and University of Illinois at Chicago. Each required 4 to 5 of the 7 subjects in order to graduate.

    Among the worst were Knox College, Lake Forest College, Northern Illinois University, Northwestern University, Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, and Wheaton College. All of the schools earned an "F" from the website, as graduation only required 0 to 1 college-level courses in the 7 core subjects.

    The findings may come as a shock to Northwestern students, since the school has one of the most expensive tuitions in the state. But, according to the website, of the 7 core subjects, Northwestern only requires three semesters of college-level study in a foreign language. The 6 other topics of study are either unnecessary for graduation or can be fulfilled with another subject.

    "The crisis in higher education is about more than money--it's about what we are paying for. And when it comes to ensuring graduates possess the basic skills and knowledge they need to succeed, universities are shortchanging students," said ACTA president Anne D. Neal, speaking at the National Press Club.

    Matt Bartosik is a Chicago native and a social media sovereign.