Monday, September 20, 2010

College or No College?

There may be a new trend in the world of higher education. It's now becoming fashionable to say that college is a farce! Here is a review of several new books that points out how college is little more than four years of partying, that college is a rip-off and that we parents are all suckers for buying into the belief that our kids need four more years of classroom learning. The reviewer doesn't give these books very high marks, and they do sound a bit slap-dash, but most parents who've been through the college admissions process with their kids don't need these books to know that the path to college comes with a high price tag, both in terms of time and money not to mention everyone's emotional well-being. At the end of the day, college isn't always the best choice for every high school teen.

The number of kids who both genuinely aspire to the life of the mind after high school and who are qualified to do so must be a very small percentage of all graduating high school seniors, but we'd never know it because college has become de rigeur, the automatic next stop-over for all kids of 18, regardless of their strengths or interests. While I do know of a handful of teens who actively orchestrated their own college search, it is largely parents, college counselors and college admissions officers who fuel the college frenzy and perpetuate the myth that college is the only and best alternative after high school.

Popular belief says that college graduates have better earning power than those without a four-year degree, but Charles Murray gives a good explanation in this short article of why a college degree may not add up to higher earning power, depending on the individual.

And for those college students who ultimately may be good college material, he offers some pithy advice.

One of the best things we could do to improve the college experience for students and faculty alike is to persuade a new generation of high school graduates that they ought to get the hell out of the educational system for a few years and thereby learn something about themselves.

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