Editor’s note: For decades part of the American Dream was the prusuit of a college degree. It was indicative as a major step in “making it” in life. However, over time, this elite status has been pounded by the large number of people who pursue a degree (making it no longer “elite”) and has been harmed reputationally by the large debt that comes with it. With over 33 percent graduating with at least a Bachelor’s degree and the cost of pursuing such often in the six digits, many question its value. Here are two articles approaching the same subject with decidedly different views:
Everyone Should Go to College
From the Daily Beast:
About half of all young Americans now start at two- or four-year colleges. Is this too many? About a third of the population winds up with at least a bachelor’s degree. Too many as well? Charles Murray of the American Enterprise Institute thinks so, and he’s far from alone. College work, Murray argues, “is intellectually too demanding for most young people,” and thus enrollment should be capped at 10 percent, the 1940 level.
I beg to differ. Everyone has the capacity to succeed at college and benefit from what it has to offer. I leave to others whether more degrees will create a globally competitive workforce, so we can stand down the Chinese. Nor am I impressed that bachelor’s holders average $58,613 versus $31,283 for high-school graduates. My reasons, rather, are intellectual, aesthetic, even ethical.
Things happen at college, whether you major in medieval philosophy or fashion merchandising. Since attendance is voluntary (and should remain that way), passing tests and turning in assignments show a willingness to do things you may not like, as an investment in your future. The campus experience also… (read more)
Study says College isn’t for Everyone
From the Lookout, Yahoo News:
A new Harvard study(PDF) says American students need to begin to decide in middle school whether they want to prepare for four-year college and then a career. The alternative approach, the study says, is to begin vocational training for a job earlier.
The study is inspired by European systems of education, and its authors say too many students are graduating high school without middle-level skills that could help them land well-paying jobs as electricians, for example. About a third of jobs in the next decade won’t require a four-year college education, the study says, and this program would help American kids prepare for them.
The study may raise the specter of “tracking”–the process by which minority and poor kids are pushed into vocational programs at their schools and held to lower expectations. EdWeek’s Catherine Gewertz notes that the authors seem to anticipate that concern, writing that students should be able to change their minds about whether they want to go to college or try a different career at any time. But the report also argues that…(read more)