2019: No Golden Tassel For You

The Golden Tassel
The Golden Tassel


By now many parents have deposited their 17-18 year-old children at the various colleges and universities across the academic landscape.  There are high hopes and dreams for these teenagers left in the care of strangers.

Residence halls and campus housing units are teeming with the new arrivals. When the rigors of classes begin, the teenager settles in a routine of energy drinks, non-family meals, ramen noodles, late nights, social activities, team support, and the hustle and bustle of postsecondary life.

When the first financial statement arrives at home, the parents are bewildered by the exorbitant charges:  the “hidden class fees”, internet usage fees, residence hall fees for laundry services, social clubs and fraternities as well as those textbooks in physical or electronic formats.

Let take a moment and jump to 2019 when that first-year student has achieved senior status after three grueling years.  The following story illustrates what a number of students and parents face after an outlandish display of family funds, time and of course those pesky loans.


The academic dean: “Being a plumber is a wonderful profession.”

The mother retorted: “We did not invest three years of our money into this private college for our son to drop out and become a plumber!”

The academic dean: “Your son was just not university caliber.”

The mother: “If that is the case, why weren’t we told this three years ago before we spent $120,000?”

The academic dean: “Education is a costly experiment. A fair number just can’t cut the mustard or the rigors, but we are inclined to give anyone a chance at the mortar board and gown. The golden tassel is always a dream.”

The mother: “The admissions recruiter said our son’s ACT scores were a good indicator of success.”

Note: Their son composite ACT was 16. The national average is 20.

The academic dean: “Admissions recruiters are paid to bring in the students. They have high hopes for their recruits, but our faculty expects university performance from the students in their classes. This is a prestigious university known for our education excellence.”

The mother: “I think that you deceived us from the beginning.”

The academic dean: “Madam, the only ones deceived here were you and your husband in believing your son was university material. There is a mirror in the hallway as you leave.”


The above is an allegorical conversation. Unfortunately, there are too many students admitted into higher education who are not prepared for the rigors of academic life.

They flounder like a goldfish out of water. In too many cases there is no one present to place them back into their glass bowl on the table.

If you are sending your child off to college, keep in constant contact. The first semester can be rough on them, and unfortunately, too many of them find themselves falling down a dry well without the essential water to keep them going.

In defense of plumbers: average annual salary is $48,000. However, considering the things they have to get their hands into on a daily basis, they deserve much more. Without them we would be knee deep in, well, let’s leave this in the nether regions of slime.


Some comments from the Loch Garry Group:


I would argue that the hypothetical university has some degree of responsibility for not admitting students who are unlikely to succeed in the first place. When universities see a decline in enrollment, it can be very tempting to admit even those whom it is clear will not do well in a fleeting attempt to balance the budget that year.

“Unfortunately, this does more harm than good in the long run for both the student in question and the university. The student (and his/her parents) are out tens of thousands of dollars and the university’s credibility and reputation goes downhill, further diverting potential future students and causing the cycle to continue. When an admissions “professional” says your child will do well in school and you likely do not have any sort of understanding of the higher education system outside of what you are told by said “professional,” why wouldn’t you send them off to college and expect that college to support your child in gaining a degree.

“Not every parent has the expertise or knowledge to know that colleges and universities are not actually interested in their child; they are interested in balancing their budget on the backs of naive parents and students who think that an institution of knowledge (especially a Christian one) truly has their best interests at heart.

“Remember: many of the parents scraping and borrowing to send their child to college didn’t have the same opportunity afforded to them so they are going to listen to the college and the admissions “professional” and trust that their child will succeed because that is what they have been told will happen and they have faith in that outcome. To the detriment of everyone involved.”   A. M. E. Williams

 “Your son was just not university caliber.” What kind of academic dean says that?”  Lyn Mae

Colleges and universities in this country must assume responsibility if they accept a student whose ACT/SAT scores are below normal academic standards.  These scores as well as the written essay admissions requirement give a good indication of the potential of the teenager. 

“Additional testing in mathematical reasoning, reading and writing comprehension should be administered by a competent professional before the semester or quarter begins.  Every post secondary institution which accepts these ill-prepared teenagers should have a remedial program in place to assist them in their quest for the elusive golden tassel.”  G. M. Michaells

No senior should be told at the beginning of their senior year they are “just not university caliber”.  This is callous ineptitude by someone who is in higher education. 

“After the first semester or the end of the first year what direction a student should follow should be very clear.  Their academic path should be painted with realistic tints and hues not rainbows with mystical pots of gold three years hence.”  A. E. Flokes

The Elusive Pot of Gold
The Elusive Pot of Gold

To take these students without providing the remedial assistance they need to succeed is just plain and simple robbery of theirs and their family resources.  The student loan debt in this country is staggering, especially for those who never obtained a degree.”  A. E. Williams

G. D. Williams © 2016

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