Study Finds College Literacy Down

By: Sarah Batista
By: Sarah Batista

January 20, 2006

A new study says most college students aren't literate enough to handle difficult tasks.

Things like figuring out a tip, comprehending an article and balancing a checkbook are all part of our everyday lives. But a new study by the Pew Charitable Trusts reveals over half of four-year and 75 percent of two-year college students can't do these tasks.

"I have never balanced my checkbook, but I hardly write checks, I usually use cash," said one student.

The study focused on three areas of literacy: analyzing news stories, understanding documents, and math skills. It seemed students couldn't grasp certain key skills regardless of what they were studying.

"By the time you graduate your either 21 or 22 and I think by that time you're an adult and you're going out into the real world and you should know what to do," explained Gabbie Strickland, a 2nd year Uva Student.

"It's pretty surprising to be able to do all the stuff that other University students can do, take difficult classes but you can't do basic things," said another UVa student.

But why is this? Some students seem to have their own philosophies as to why.

"Either they have somebody doing it for them, or it's just not a big responsibility of theirs," said Sarah Howell, a 3rd Year UVa Student.

But if these results seem a little disconcerting, there is a bright side. Most college students are more literate than the average adult and not surprising: they're skills in searching and researching documents also ranked high.

Nearly 2,000 students in both public and private universities participated in that survey.

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