Notes in the Margins: Languages, falling grad rates and the lure of rankings

Foreign Language Programs Cut as Colleges Lose Aid Foreign languages — European ones in particular — are on the chopping block. The reasons for their plight are many. But the paradox is that many schools are eliminating language degrees just as they begin to embrace an international mission. (The New York Times)

West Chester ‘White Student Union’ Flier A Fake, But Raises Real Controversy A flier advertising a meeting for an all-white student union at West Chester University in Pennsylvania has been revealed as a hoax — and a futile attempt to incite racial dialogue. (Huffington Post)

College grad unemployment at record high The unemployment rate for people with a college degree hit 5.1 percent in November — the highest it’s been in 40 years, the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, D.C. reports. A total of 2.4 million college graduates age 25 and older are out of work nationwide, EPI economist Heidi Shierholz said. (

University of Minnesota profs demand investigation of drug trial A group of University of Minnesota professors want the Board of Regents to investigate the suicide of a patient enrolled in a university-run drug study. (Med City News)

Using the Rankings Of the 80 percent of colleges that believe their institutions appear “favorably” in the U.S. News & World Report rankings, 71 percent promote their rankings results in marketing materials (although most of those say that they promote the rankings in only a limited way). The findings may demonstrate why it was so hard to get more colleges to pledge to “withdraw” from the rankings system. (Inside Higher Ed)

Graduation Rates Fall at One-Third of 4-Year Colleges Certain types of students may help explain why at Akron and other colleges, the graduation rate has been heading in the wrong direction. A Chronicle analysis of nearly 1,400 four-year institutions shows that one-third reported lower graduation rates for the six-year period ending in 2008 than for the one ending in 2003. (

Getting Better Information on Colleges to Consumers The federal government should provide more information about colleges to students and their parents, and should distribute it more actively, according to a new report from the Center for American Progress and the Hamilton Project. The report mentions many existing sources of consumer information on colleges but deems them insufficient. (