Really, I do feel bad for the,. If they leave college as clueless as they arrived, they have no chance. Proffie Galore's comment reminded me of a recent conversation I had with a student.
She came to office hours with questions. In the middle of explaining how to solve a problem, she says, "By the way, I have a question about lab." she sat back from the table where we were working, making it clear that her mind had fixated on to this new topic.
OK, let's talk about lab. I started to answer her question but I needed to check the syllabus. While I opened my file cabinet, she became curious about our final exam (6 weeks from now!), then about something else. She moved from topic to topic whenever I paused to catch my breathe. Her body language suggested that she never fully understood what I said, just that her new thought was more important than her previous one. We ended our conversation with her telling me about a science show she watched (partially, of course) on the Discovery Channel. I told her that it sounded interesting. That made her happy; she packed up and left.
We never finished solving the problem that she came to see me about.