If it's any indication that good things are happening at Colorado Christian University, CCU just enrolled its largest traditional freshman class ever. As the 2010-11 college year opened on August 23 at the suburban liberal-arts campus, the freshmen count was 306 students, up 40 from the previous high. The incoming class of combined freshmen and transfer students was also the second largest in school history.
But this year, new students aren't the only ones taking a second look at the University. In a recent academic evaluation that observed a nationwide pool of 700 colleges and universities, including the major public and private institutions in all 50 states, CCU placed highly among the 15 Colorado schools mentioned.
On August 17, 2010, The American Council of Trustees and Alumni, an independent nonprofit, released the latest results in its annual evaluation of U.S. colleges and universities entitled "What Will They Learn: A Guide to What College Rankings Don't Tell You." Speaking previously at the National Press Club, ACTA President Anne D. Neal remarked that there is currently a crisis in higher education. "When it comes to ensuring graduates possess the basic skills and knowledge they need to succeed," she said, "universities are shortchanging students."
Among key findings in this year's ACTA evaluation: institutions across America have by and large abandoned a coherent, content-rich general-education curriculum-allowing students to graduate with important gaps in their foundational knowledge. Nearly 40 percent of the schools evaluated don't require college-level math. Fewer than five percent require economics coursework.
The ACTA evaluation has garnered positive remarks from The Wall Street Journal and the founding editor of U.S. News and World Report's college rankings. While considering factors like price and graduation rates, it also assigns institutions "school" grades, ranging from A to F, based on how many of the following core subjects they require students to take: composition, mathematics, science, economics, foreign language, literature, and American government or history.
In this year's ACTA evaluation, CCU placed higher than 12 of 15 Colorado colleges and universities. One Colorado school received an A while CCU and one other local university received the only B's."
Ordinarily, I would not be overly pleased to receive a B, but in this case, context is everything," stated CCU President Bill Armstrong.
Of the 700 colleges and universities evaluated nationwide, only 16 received A's.
Armstrong attributed CCU's placement to its new general-education curriculum, which covers a broad base of studies and requires students to choose from courses in economics, political science, math, and American history.
While ACTA's findings are alarming in regard to overall academic quality at America's places of higher learning, they also beg the question: Once graduates hit the workforce, will the country see a decline in its competitiveness and innovation in the global marketplace? The issue is still out for jury, and only time will tell.
Meanwhile, CCU is pushing forward with its core curriculum. With nearly two-thirds of this year's total undergraduate enrollment comprised by freshmen and sophomores, prospects for continued growth look good.