Sunday, July 12, 2009

Community Colleges and the Future

As I've noted before, the current emphasis on four-year colleges and bachelor's degrees is hugely inefficient, ignoring a myriad of realities in the US economy and education system. The focus is myopic at best, and it does an incredible disservice to many skilled students and workers who could be educated and trained in far less time for far less money with much greater success.

Clearly, many students do not need seventeen years of education - as most professions don't require it - and students should be empowered to get training and get on with their lives whenever they are ready. With many people never finishing bachelor degrees, the education system needs to re-evaluate associate degree programs. For, a student who quits a four-year college after two years has nothing, while a two-year program offers a degree and the option of applying the credit to a four-year degree.

Time Magazine is taking a look at this issue in this article, "Can Community Colleges Save the US economy?" My answer is yes.


Claus von Zastrow said...

While I generally agree with your argument, it remains true that high-income students generally enroll in--and often graduate from--four-year institutions. Generally (but not always), their four-year degrees earn them higher salaries than a 2-year degree would.

How do we prevent the current perpetuation of income gaps?

mmazenko said...

While people with higher levels of education - coming for higher socioeconomic status - generally earn more than those of lower levels, there is a saturation point for how many higher level jobs are available within any given economy. Case in point: we can't all own our own car shops - some people simply need to be mechanics. The market, not the hopes and planning of school administrators and counselors, will decide this.

Certainly, equal access to opportunity is important and should be pursued. Yet, there are numerous variables that impact the ultimate "success" of kids from upper and lower income levels.

In terms of income gaps, society is far better pursuing fair wages and organized labor than believing that four-year college for all will close the income gap.