When I was taking business at mcgill and stuck doing team projects, I was completely shocked by how bad everyones' written english was. On one occasion, I essentially had to re-write a 10 page paper because all the parts that other people had written were a complete mess. This is a school that theoretically only allows kids with good grades to gain admission. It's proof of how low standards have fallen.
Now, I didn't say that, and it isn't true. As someone who has been teaching college writing for nearly a decade, I can tell you why so many papers are so bad: they aren't even begun until about 10:00 the night before. When we have students go through the writing process under close supervision, the end product tends to be so much better that one might think a different person has written it. I'm not saying most are naturally gifted writers (far from it), but performance on (to them) random and meaningless class assignments is not a good indicator of their actual potential.
The ESL students I teach and have taught, on the other hand, put a lot more effort into it because they are painfully aware of their handicap. (I currently teach English to college-bound students from all over the world. I also studied in Germany for a time, so I know what it's like.)
Quote:Instead of looking at grades, universities should have entrance exams.
1. See my answer above.
2. Procedures vary, but generally grades are only a small(ish) factor in entrance decisions, particulary for grad school.
3. They do. They're called the ACT and the SAT. For grad school, of course, there are the GRE/GMAT/LSAT/etc. Some departments and programs require writing samples. Requiring more is very, very expensive, and cash-strapped institutions are loathe to spend more on entrance firehoops that will ultimately yield little in terms of predicting performance. Students take exams and writing samples seriously; they generally don't take individual class assignments very seriously.