Why College?

The rhetoric in my school is that every child needs to go to college. Instead of saying that we should prepare every student to have options after high school, the end-all, be-all has now become a college education.

Of course, this comes at a time when university prices in Washington State will have doubled in some schools inside of five years and in-state college spots are lessening.

Now, I must admit my bias. I don’t believe every student should go to college. I was a hair’s breadth from joining the military instead of enrolling in college, a worthy choice in my biased mind. Other members of family became electricians, carpenters, farmers, and engineers without ever stepping foot on a college campus.

And then, there’s this. Some intelligent and talented students are being encouraged to skip the university level completely.

An then, there’s this advocate of those “dirty jobs.” Why not go into trades which can support families, have steady employment, and do not require college teachings?

Options are out there.

Unfortunately, I’m watching the shrinking of our vocational programs in my school. Plus, some of the classes which remain are being reduced to almost meaningless sessions. TA classes have popped up (to maintain the vocational funding by having vocational classes) where the students meet once a week to fill out forms like how to file papers alphabetically, filling in the political structure of the school district, and other inanities. Another technology class has been reduced to playing video games, using a word processing document, and playing with PowerPoint.

What is happening to your programs? What is your school’s philosophy?

Check out Mike Rowe speaking to Congress here.


4 thoughts on “Why College?

  1. feministpedagogue

    Part of the problem with the “everyone should get a BA” idea is (along with everything that you mentioned) that it assumes that all BA’s (and other advanced degrees) are created equal. They’re not. And when we hold up a college education (more like whatever career path is supposed follow post-graduation) as the be-all-end-all, we’re implicitly valuing certain forms of intelligence over others, and certain vocations over others.

  2. A Phillie Teacher

    in our district, anyone who even *breathes* the suggestion that some students don’t need/aren’t built for college is labeled a racist.

    We mix kids with 4th grade reading level with kids approaching grade level then make all of them read Shakespeare without side notes. A nightmare.

    But just to be absolutely sure they’re ready for college, we are told to pass darn near everyone, don’t expect them do homework or even come to school on time.

    We provide pens, paper, bus passes. But they can’t come to school on time or come prepared for class. There are no repercussions for anything they do.

    College?? I have some seniors who come to class once every ten days or so and when I tell them they can’t possibly pass English (and show them the grades to prove it) they run to the principal who “asks” me to give the kid a break.

    So that’s our program. Make the kids wimpy, personally irresponsible and educationally incompetent then proudly send them off to college where they surely will crash and burn.

  3. Still Bemused

    In our district as well, we are not allowed to voice the opinion that some students should not be looking at college. Parents demand we prepare students who don’t have the faintest interest in it — yet they won’t help us when their students refuse to be prepared. Meanwhile, we shortchange the ones who are college material. They are forced to sit in idle mode waiting as I plead with others to do the simplest assignments imaginable.

  4. Elisabeth

    I remember when kids would drop out of my university in Philadelphia in the 90’s to go start business ventures and not even finish their degree because so much was waiting for them and they couldn’t wait another minute. But I know kids where academics are everything and academia is all they want so college, masters, Ph.D programs are perfect. Not everyone works the same way, so obviously, the right routes vary from student to student but I still think we should encourage college as an option to everyone so we’re not closing doors on opportunities for kids. How will they know if they don’t experience? Sometimes, a decision made at 16 or 18 is still premature. The fact that we’re not opening more opportunities and options is saddening because then we’re boxing in futures. These are lives we’re talking about. Not budgets.


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