Sunday, October 06, 2013

What Lies Beneath Mount Pleasant's Invitation to Francis Marion U

Something lurks beneath the sudden push for a satellite campus of Francis Marion University to be located in Mount Pleasant. Only Mayor Billy Swails and maybe some members of the town council know. What it is, is neither need nor logic.

Swails's recent op-ed proves the point. He carefully documents the percentage of local freshmen at the College of Charleston but has no hard facts to back up his contention that "constituents have been telling us for years" how difficult it is for students to stay local in their choice of a four-year degree. "Accessibility and affordability" are his criteria.

Really? How many constituents complain about college options to their mayor? Someone has an ax to grind, and it's probably to make money.

Then there's the idea that his criteria must be met by a four-year school. Um, why?

If a student's scores and/or grades are not high enough to get into one of our local four-year colleges, why would we want to import a school whose standards are lower? Getting in to one of our local four-year programs in no way resembles getting into Harvard. In fact, for one of them, graduating from high school is enough!

Current in the national conversation is the discussion of the many college dropouts who are stuck with thousands in student loans and without a job justifying the debt. Swails apparently wants more of them. Anyone who believes that all high school graduates should matriculate at four-year colleges is delusional. What is the problem with proving academic dedication at a two-year college and then moving on to the four-year degree if it makes sense at that point?

Pointing out the virtues of the nursing program at Francis Marion is the final fallacy. First of all, the nursing program at FMU was run by MUSC until 2004, so those stats he's citing boomerang to another of our local choices for a four-year nursing degree. In addition, starting FMU with a "nursing" program is a red herring when FMU uses a 2 + 2 system towards its four-year nursing degree: the first two years are in the general college And, finally, someone should figure out if what the Lowcountry needs is nurses with four-year degrees! Certainly Swails hasn't provided any numbers for support.

Someone might just wonder if one of Swails's clients a building for sale that would fit his description of what the Council will look for.

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