Monday, May 28, 2012
Why A College Education Isn't for Everyone
I just came across an opinion piece by Robert J. Samuelson in the Washington Post in which he argues that the crusade for all students to go to college is not only unrealistic, but foolhardy. As a father and educator, I must say I agree. Yes, I personally hope my own children obtain a post-secondary education, but that doesn't necessarily mean attending a college or university.
Every individual should consider him or herself a "life-long learner" and should seek additional education and training in his or her respective field. If my son wants to become a carpenter, I hope he becomes one of the best and seeks vocational training as early as possible and works hard to earn his living and enjoy success in his trade. If that is indeed the career he chooses does he need to go $30-150,000 into debt to earn a degree or two in engineering or business. No!
If you have been paying attention to the recent spate of US student debt stories in the news then you understand what a massive problem it has become for us as a nation.The new Common Core Standards--the new national standards which more than 46 states have adopted--focus on college and career readiness and rightly so. If your son or daughter is not interested in college, don't force the issue and instead look for ways to help him/her focus on other forms of post-secondary education that, in many cases, will prove to be more effective and lucrative anyway. These may include vocational training, apprenticeships, certificate programs, etc. that offer an "in" to a field and the potential to grow and "move up."
Below I have excerpted a few highlights from the article mentioned above (I have emboldened certain lines for added emphasis):
"College-for-all has been a major blunder. One size doesn’t fit all, as sociologist James Rosenbaum of Northwestern University has argued. The need is to motivate the unmotivated. One way is to forge closer ties between high school and jobs. Yet, vocational education is de-emphasized and disparaged. Apprenticeship programs combining classroom and on-the-job training — programs successful in Europe — are sparse [in the U.S.]...
"The rap against employment-oriented schooling is that it traps...[many]...in low-paying, dead-end jobs. Actually, an unrealistic expectation of college often traps them into low-paying, dead-end jobs — or no job. Learning styles differ. 'Apprenticeship in other countries does a better job of engaging students,' says Lerman. 'We want to diversify the routes to rewarding careers.' Downplaying these programs denies some students the pride and self-confidence of mastering difficult technical skills, while also fostering labor shortages.
"Most jobs — 69 percent in 2010, estimates the Labor Department — don’t require a post-high-school degree. They’re truck drivers, store clerks, some technicians. On paper, we’re turning out enough college graduates to meet our needs.
The real concern is the quality of graduates at all levels. The fixation on college-going, justified in the early postwar decades, stigmatizes those who don’t go to college and minimizes their needs for more vocational skills. It cheapens the value of a college degree and spawns the delusion that only the degree — not the skills and knowledge behind it — matters. We need to rethink."
Check our the full article HERE although since it is quite short I have included most of it above.