Monday, September 25, 2006

The US doesn't need more college grads

I found this very well written piece in the Christian Science Monitor. The article made some good points about the problem with sending more unmotivated students to college.

The US doesn't need more college grads

Here are a few excerpts:

There are lots of American students who are eager to learn and proceed to master skills that aid them in their careers. But government and private support already get almost all of these passionate pupils into college. The trouble is that many other students enter college with no enthusiasm for learning. Boosting college participation would mean recruiting still more of these disengaged students. Increasing their numbers will not give us a more skilled workforce; it will just put more downward pressure on academic standards.

Already standards have been falling for decades, as schools have lowered expectations to keep weak, indifferent students enrolled. Indeed, many students who graduate from college are deficient in even the most basic skills that employers want. Last year's National Assessment of Adult Literacy found, for example, that less than a third of college graduates are proficient in reading and the ability to do elementary mathematical calculations. Similarly, the National Commission on Writing has found that many business executives are appalled at graduates' poor writing skills.

I agree with this observation:

We currently find many college graduates employed as waiters, cashiers, healthcare aides, and in other jobs that don't require any special background. Expanding college access will just mean more young people with college debts doing low-paid work.

This is my favorite quote from the article:

As one student I know puts it, "People would be amazed if they knew how easy it is to graduate without learning anything."

This sure rings true with my experience at college.

This issue effects homeschoolers, as well as public school students. As a parent, I'm reluctant to invest so much money for a dumbed down college education. Nor, do I wish to pay for an ivy league education.

My siblings and I all attended college, though I'm the only one to get a degree. Both my brother and sister were very successful in their careers and other pursuits without one. My sister is especially well educated and articulate. At some point she would like to finish a degree, but she already has a better education than most college graduates.

I think my college experience is a benefit for homeschooling. Not that it makes me a better teacher, but that it lends more legitamacy to our home education efforts. In other word, it looks good on paper. Most of what really makes a difference in education is what I learn as we go along, and that has almost nothing to do with what I learned in college.

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Mother Crone's Homeschool said...

I am in complete agreement with this, as I too saw so many pursuing a degree in Procrastination and Partying while at school myself. It is also very frustrating to the professors, who wish to share their knowledge.

christinemm said...

Janine I am curious what your post-college work experience was with relation to your college degree. Did you feel that it helped you to have that degree?

I had negative ramifications in my own life/career because I did not get a Bachelor's Degree right after high school.

My parents were not supportive of me getting a college education because they didn't think it was necessary to get a job or lead a quality life. My parents were of the mindset that what was good enough for them was good enough for me. They didn't have much of a vision for my future.

I had numerous blockades put in front of me while trying to promote and move forward from entry level positions at my places of employment due to not having a degree.

No matter if you thought your college education was a waste of time or money or whatever I am curious if having that Diploma did ever help you in your career? If it did then it was worth it, in my opinion, because it served its purpose in the employment arena.

Janine Cate said...

My answer was so long I decided to put it in a new post.

Bottom line: College got me in the door more easily. But after that, I was on my own.

Janine Cate said...

So here's my full answer: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

Allison said...

--I had negative ramifications in my own life/career because I did not get a Bachelor's Degree right after high school.

But that doesn't mean that you would have had positive ramifications if you HAD gone right after high school. I had negative ramifications because I did go immediately. We can't know the oounterfactual outcome for either of us.

Thomas Sowell makes a good point: university education was correlated with greater success, but that doesn't imply causation. He says that flying in airplanes is correlated with greater financial success--but does that mean we should fly poor children in airplanes and they will suddenly have better salaries? No. College meant something because it signaled something: greater discipline, or willingness to work hard, or brains, or other elements that led to better outcomes. Now, college doesn't imply those traits at all. You don't need learnedness or discipline or maturity to finish college. The number of disastrous experiences that can happen to young people--violence, drugs, sex, loss of self, etc.--is worse than ever for those not mature enough to handle life at university.