Wednesday, April 30, 2014

On Not Going to College, and Not Being Pressured to

Today was senior day at my school, where we celebrated college decisions which must be made by May 1. And, of course, the expectation that our seniors are, in fact, going to college is a pretty obvious expectation at a high achieving school like mine. That said, I have been a critic of the college-for-all mentality for a long time, and I consciously advocate for a stronger career education track, along the lines of many European nations. And, it's not just about students who are "not college material." I think we have a truly in-efficient system, and we send kids on to college for the flimsiest of reasons - earning power.

So, when articles come along that promote alternatives to college, or the standards K-16 track, I tend to listen and promote it.  This week, to coincide with things like "College Day," the New York Times Parenting Blog offers thoughts for When College is Not in the Cards. That can be a particularly hard time for some kids and some parents in certain communities. And that is truly sad. For, sometimes, heading into a career is what a child needs, and sometimes it's just a matter of needing a little time to figure things out - we call that the "Gap Year."

It's important for young people to know that "You Don't Have to Go to College." And to critics who argue that I am just perpetuating stratification in society, I would counter by arguing we would be better served in reforming labor, than we would be in sending everyone to college simply because "college grads make more money." That argument, while statistically true, is flawed and deceptive on so many levels. And it raises the question of whether we'd be better served by looking at the "wage gap."

Anyway, it's worth the discussion - There is plenty of reason that a "college education is not worth it." And, as parents deal with the issue of children who are ambivalent about signing on for a very expensive four years of the very thing they couldn't wait to escape, it's worth listening to voices that say, "I Don't Want My Children to Go to College."

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