Blog: How Education Ruined My Breakfast

By Michael Platt

No, this is not about a rogue culinary student. This blog is about what I learned this morning at breakfast, and how I left my favorite greasy spoon sick to my stomach. As a creature of habit, I go 3-4 times a week to the same restaurant for a mushroom and onion omelet with grits and wheat toast. I also get to know my waiters/waitresses since I am there as often as they are. This morning, I had a new waitress who I learned was halfway through her RN program at a state university that boasts a 94% pass rate for their grads on the state nursing exam. However, she said this with head hung low, which confused me. She then told me that she is struggling in class, so I asked her a series of questions. Allow me to share both the questions and her responses:

Question – How are you doing in class?
Answer – Not well.

Question – What’s the problem?
Answer – I am barely making it and no one will help me.

Question – What do they say when you ask for help?
Answer – That this is tough, which is why only 30% graduate.

Question – Wow…did you know that 70% of the students failed to graduate when you enrolled?
Answer – No, or I wouldn’t have enrolled.

Question – Did they tell you why 70% fail?
Answer – They said they intentionally make this hard so that they can rank high on the state exam pass rate, which they do…94%

Question – Do they do anything for the 6% that fail, like additional support to help you pass the next time?
Answer – No, they don’t care.  That’s obvious.  They don’t even make time for us to see them off-hours when we are struggling and half the time we get a TA teaching class.  What a joke.

Question – So why do you think you aren’t doing well?  Did you do well in High School?
Answer –  Yes, I got 2 B’s and the rest A’s in my four years.  But I wasn’t already an LPN.  We started 2.5 years ago with 150 students and we only have 80 left.  Me and this other girl are the only ones that did not have our LPN and I think she is dropping.  Almost all the LPN’s are still here and doing well.

Question – Did they warn you of that when you enrolled?  That without an LPN you would almost certainly fail?
Answer – No way…I’d have enrolled somewhere else and gone for my LPN.  I think I’m going to drop because I’m not going to pass my finals and I know I’ll get thrown out anyway.

Question – Ouch – will you have gotten ANYTHING out of the 2.5 years?
Answer – Yes, absolutely.  About $65,000 in loans to pay back from my waitressing job.

Yes, this ruined my breakfast.  This girl is so defeated and feels so mislead, that she has lost her confidence and doesn’t even see herself enrolling elsewhere with transferred credits to become an LPN as a first step. 

Should the admissions person have warned her of the poor likelihood that as a non-LPN, her chances of graduating were slim? 

Should the school be doing everything possible to help these young men and women graduate, as opposed to having a system designed to weed out unlikely successes AFTER they’ve invested fifty to seventy-five thousand dollars, even at risk of lower success rates on their state exams? 

And just as important, why does the not-for-profit status allow these schools to mislead, fail to graduate a decent percentage of students, and to put massive debt-loads on students who have little chance to succeed?

What are your thoughts?

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