That was the startling conclusion of a blockbuster book, Academically Adrift, that has triggered tremendous angst in the higher-ed world since its release earlier this year.
According to the academics who conducted the research, 46% of students don't improve in their writing skills or critical thinking and reasoning abilities after two years in college. More than a third of students who graduate never improve.
How can you avoid that happening to you? Here are five tips to help you succeed in college.
1. Attend classes.Okay, this is an obvious suggestion, but many students are no shows especially if the classes are held in cavernous lecture halls. According to the Educational Policy Institute, students who skip classes increase their odds of dropping out of school by 250%.
2. Study more hours.Research has shown that the most successful students study at least 20 hours a week. Manage your time so you aren't studying 10 or 15 minute at a time or cracking the books in the early morning hours.
3. Join a study group.
Research suggests that students who study together tend to perform much better in class. Avoid the temptation of letting others do the work for you by reviewing the assignments ahead of time and arriving to the study group with questions you couldn't answer.
4. Use tutors.College classes can be much harder than anything you experienced in high school, which is why colleges offer free tutoring to its students. The tutors are often upper classmen who are majors in the subject. The tutors may do a better job of explaining the materials than the professors and they are usually far more accessible.
5. Choose a major you love.You have a better chance of succeeding in college if you major in something you truly love rather than picking a college major that you or your parents think is more practical. If you like your college major, you are more likely to devote more time to it and to excel.
Some experts have suggested that you need to devote 10,000 to master a subject, whether it's Mozart or Michael Jordan - and you are more likely to be able to pull this off in your career if you like what you're doing.
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Lynn O'Shaughnessy is author of The College Solution, an Amazon bestseller, and she also writes her own college blog at The College Solution.
Success in college image by Genista. CC 2.0.