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When Should You Take Advice From a College Dropout? When It’s Bill Gates


On the surface, it might seem kind of strange to ask a college dropout for his advice on how to reform our educational system. But when that college dropout is Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft and philanthropist, well, maybe we want to bend an ear.

Speaking at the Washington Ideas Forum earlier this month, Gates said that we need to focus on reforming college financing and lowering the college dropout rate.

Geekwire reports that Gates said schools should be rewarded for accepting students with low SAT scores, and then educating them, instead of getting credit for being more exclusive and spending more on resources. In other words, we need to offer incentive for better teaching and higher graduation rates, not fancier clubs for graduates.

Geekwire also points to a recent review by Gates of the book “Academically Adrift.” Written by sociologists Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa, the book gathered data from 24 undergraduate institutions across the country in the hopes of assessing the quality of education in the U.S.

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The two points that grabbed Gates the most were:

1. The lack of improvement in critical thinking, complex reasoning, or written communication in the first two years of school.

2. The lack of effort required by the students, who studied an average of 12 hours a week and rarely wrote more than 20 pages per class per semester.

Neither one of which inspires great amounts of faith in the current system. Perhaps, though, the study, and Gates’ advice, can inspire us to strive to do better for students in the future.

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Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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