The Collegiate Learning Assessment Plus

An Added Hurdle for College Students to Cross

College students may be pleased — or infuriated — to know that their schools may offer the Collegiate Learning Assessment Plus (CLA+) during their senior year. What is this and why does it exist? It is essentially a standardized test for college students–similar to our high school SATs– and if it gains increasing popularity over the next few years, it will most likely be what future employers require of college graduates.This test aims to cover the areas of analysis, problem solving, writing, quantitative reasoning and reading, according to the Council for Aid to Education.

According to the Chicago Tribune, “about 200 colleges and universities, including small liberal arts colleges Ursuline College of Pepper Pike, Ohio, and Stonehill College of Easton, Massachusetts as well as some of the California and Texas state university systems” will offer the CLA+ to their seniors this year.

If you enjoy taking tests (or, at least, tend to perform well on them), this could be your saving grace if you did not earn the best grades in college. This might be a result of the fact that more and more employers are starting to realize that GPA is not the best indicator of a student’s readiness for a full-time, post-graduate job.

Why the shift towards holding unreliable, dubious feelings about GPA? Two words: grade inflation. And employers are starting to catch onto this trend.

Even Michael Poliakoff, vice president of policy at the nonprofit American Council of Trustees and Alumni, believes that “the tests could help address the problem of grade inflation, with schools awarding higher grades over the years in an effort to attract and retain students.”

So, let us consider this: you pay thousands — or, in the case of USF, hundreds of thousands–of dollars by the end of your (hopefully) four years in and then, right when you think you’re done with the stress, you’re not.

If your school did not adequately prepare you for the “real world” with the tools and necessary knowledge — even if you got decent grades — it will definitely be reflected on your CLA+ test score.

The CLA+ could highlight the differences between mediocre educations and top-notch educations. It will illustrate what students really did learn during their undergraduate years.

Hopefully, because we USF students are able to engage with our professors and connect with our classmates on levels unknown to students of insanely huge schools, this will be picked up by the CLA+.

One thing’s for sure: universities that are lacking in the education department will definitely not be able to hide behind their easygoing professors after employers start asking for CLA+ test scores.

For this reason, the CLA+ will produce results that will most likely even out the playing field made up of post-graduates scouring for jobs. And because it aims to even out, it holds good intentions.

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