Wednesday, September 29, 2010

College for all: its disappointments

Is it wise for the vast majority of high school students to plan to attend college? No, say experts in the fall issue of American Eductor, a professional quarterly published by the American Federation of Teachers.

For one thing, fewer than half of high school seniors who seek a bachelor’s degree succeed in their goal.
“We must find a way of being honest with our youth without crushing their dreams,” say the experts in a long critique of what they call the “college-for-all movement.”

They charge the movement with “idealizing” the four-year bachelor of arts (BA) degree by promoting false assumptions, chiefly that a BA guarantees higher earnings and that higher earnings guarantee better jobs. Consequently, many students do not consider non-BA options, plentifully offered by community colleges and even regular colleges with certificates and applied associate (AA) degrees that can lead to well paying and satisfying careers.

“We all know that many people with jobs that require a BA (e.g., teachers social workers, etc.) are paid less than some people with jobs that require an AA (e.g., computer specialists, engineering technicians, mechanics, heating/air conditioning repairers, dental and medical assistants, insurance appraisers, and funeral directors,” write the authors of one article, James E. Rosenbaum, Jennifer L. Stephan, and Janet E. Rosenbaum.

“As a nation, “ writes Chris Myers Asch in another article, “we need young people to become skilled carpenters, electricians, lab technicians, nurse practitioners, and drill sergeants. By pushing college to the exclusion of other options, we indulge in what might be called the inadvertent bigotry of inappropriate expectations.”

For practical guidance to hundreds of different jobs, order the Bureau of Labor Statistics' “Occupational Outlook Handbook” at http://www.bls.OCO.
Print Page

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As a high school guidance counselor, I could not agree more. Our students are often left feeling that a 4-year university is the only option--- should they not choose that option, they are often left feeling somehow inadequate and at a loss of other options, thus they do nothing. This fallacy needs to be challenged. Our students need to be encouraged to search out ALL levels of training and to consider the direction best suited for each student's unique interests and abilities. We are short changing the students, as well as the U.S. workforce as a whole!