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The Incurious, Uncultured, Aliterate Senior

The National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) has received a lot of attention lately, partly because of the rise of accountability in higher ed discussions. It asks students questions about their workload, homework hours, papers written, contact time with profs, etc.

It also asks a lot of questions about leisure activities, and a few of the results are particularly depressing. In 2006, when asked if they “Attended an art exhibit, gallery, play, dance, or other theater performance,” seniors replied:

Never: 31 percent

Sometimes: 45 percent

Often: 15 percent

Very often: 9 percent

A feeble outcome, expecially considering how much the average campus provides in arts offerings, much of it free.

And when asked about “Number of books read on your own (not assigned) for personal enjoyment of academic enrichment,” seniors scored:

None: 20 percent

1-4: 54 percent

5-10: 16 percent

11+: 10 percent

That included books of any kind — Harry Potter, self-help, romance, sports. … Hard to believe that in the roughly 20 weeks of vacation a year, three-quarters of seniors on the verge of graduation tallied 4 books or less.

Now, as for the number of times they have consulted their MySpace page…

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