Palin is a Swirling Student!

October 1, 2008 | Blog

What a day! Today, the day before the VP Candidate faceoff (I can hardly wait!), the AP busts out with a fabulous story that Sarah Palin switched colleges 6 times in 6 years!

This makes Palin what I referred to in my U. Penn. doctoral dissertation as a “swirling student.” Changing colleges is relatively common among today’s college students, but as my research shows, it’s especially common for students with poor college grades. Palin started at U. Hawaii-Hilo, a four-year school. She moved to Hawaii Pacific (another 4-year) then to North Idaho College (2 year), then to U. Idaho (4 year), then to Matanuska-Susitna College (4- year), and then back to U. Idaho.

What to make of this? Well, as the AP story indicates, her reasons are very unclear. Normally, I would caution anyone against assuming these are indicative of poor decisions (but I won’t do that, since this woman is clearly not a maker of good decisions!). But one thing is very, very clear — it is INCREDIBLY hard to get a coherent, rich college education when you’re constantly changing schools. Congrats to Palin for eventually attaining a degree, but it’s far from certain that she learned anything from the college experience.

“Aha”, you say– well, that explains her incredible lack of intellect or awareness of the world around her, interest in reading newspapers and so on. Maybe those things are associated with a college education, not a college degree.

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