Monday, April 19, 2010

America’s Grand Failure: The College Track

The Bureau of Labor says that, in 2008, 68.9% of all HS graduates enrolled in a four-year college. Forty percent will eventually drop out, with even higher numbers for Blacks and Latinos. Reasons for dropping out include, financial, mismatched expectations, poor motivation, preparation, and study skills.

The idea that every child in America should go to college is flawed. This is different than the notion that young people, who are ready, willing, and able, should not get help. We need to acknowledge that we are failing all the kids who should have another choice. This isn’t just the kids who fail, but also those destined to under perform due to misplacement.

Also, the alternative which kids need is not to simply go to community college, on a remedial academic track, to make up for not being able to make the cut into a four-year college. They need real alternatives that develop them, accepting the need to serve/contribute to society, in a more manual/service orientation, and less intellectual manner.

Following this, America needs communities where people, who do not go to college, can live well, against a more elastic version of the American dream. That dream might not only include a suburban home with a 2-car garage, but also allow for more down-sized home ownership, not just ghetto squalor or fixer-uppers. Large complexes that wed tenants to extended renting, minus the pride and benefits of ownership, are not the answer.

School systems, across all economic levels, need to facilitate placing students in the most appropriate development scenario. At minimum we need service-tech and vocational-tech school tracks that capture kids, and their imaginations, at the end of middle school. This is the best opportunity for reducing first on-set high school drop-out rates, which only fuel unemployment, bad attitudes, and crime.

Pushing kids into college fuels higher-education bloat, and saddles these dropouts with large debts, no degree, and limited job prospects. So, good education is not about promoting more kids against a bad standard. Rather, it is our educators, and their system, that need to become responsive to real need – and more responsible to this country's future.

James C. Collier


Technorati Tags: , , , , ,


Anonymous said...

It sounds like you're insulting blue-collar workers.

Anonymous said...

I think your analisis is spot on.

My thoughts are that Blacks and Latinos always have to try extra hard to have what white people who can barely pronounce have already inherited! Not that I don't agree or aprove of higher education, of course I do. Just saying...

Anonymous said...

The problem with your idea is twofold: in the first place, a lot of jobs in the manual/service orientation have gone overseas. Not all of them; the U.S. will always need plumbers and carpenters (the apprenticeship requirements for which are now in some cases take longer than getting a Bachelor's and a Master's put together). But it doesn't necessarily need manufacturer's, or, with the internet, retail service people.

The other, related problem is that many jobs that did not require university education 50 to 100 years ago now require a bachelor's degree: you used to be able to learn to be an accountant, a secretary, a salesperson, even a lawyer without a Bachelor's degree. There are a lot of reasons for this change: the bodies of knowledge required for these jobs has grown by an order of magnitude in complexity, for example, and the number of people who go to college means that the social value of a degree is effectively reduced by "education inflation". It's also true that expanded access through financial aid and incentive programs has effectively tarred people who don't attend college as being too lazy or too stupid for "real jobs". And it doesn't help that these days they are competing with recent college graduates (such as myself) even for low-paying, menial jobs at Starbucks.

I think that rather than send more people to college, especially since most people don't know what they want to do afterwards anyway, and since outside of engineering few people actually work in their field without a Master's, "expanded access" programs should focus on finding alternative ways to train young adults for the jobs that exist. Not everybody is cut out to learn about H.R. in a classroom, but they might learn through an on-the-job training or apprenticeship program, similar to the Virginia rules for law apprenticeships.

UncleTomRuckusInGoodWhiteWorld said...

I completely agree with him, the problem is, due to a varity of reasons NAMs (Non-Asian Minorities) are going to end up disporportionately in non-college track programs and some crack head welfare whore is going to be at the school, although she never made sure her child did home work a day in their life, never made them go to school, never dealt with discipline issues, has no father around, is going to scream racism and call Al Sharpton (or some Latino rising star equivalent), threaten the teachers, call everyone racists, etc. That's the reality of America. So while you are correct Collier, and this is what other developed nations (Switzerland, Germany, Austria, France, Japan) have done for decades, America can't do this because we have a lot of NAMs and a history of real racism, which people often take advantage of in modern times.

Most blacks and Hispanics will not act like this, but then again, you don't need that, you only need a vocal minority to scream in front of TV cameras that they speak for all 35-40 million people in their communities and liberal whites will be believe it and start screaming racism as well.

vandiver49 said...

For blacks, the fear of being railroaded into vocational education after integration led to an over-reaction that eliminated the curriculum from public schools. I would submit to you that re-implementing this program is not enough, because of the pervasive belief that the lack of a degree equals the lack of intelligence in black America.

I disagree though that there isn’t enough elasticity in the American Dream, as multiple forms of home ownership exists throughout the nation for those without a college education. They are just simply geography dependant. Also, I think the lessons learned from the Housing Meltdown of 2008 proved that it is foolhardy to force people into the ‘American Dream’ before they are ready and/or capable of managing that responsibility.

UncleTomRuckusInGoodWhiteWorld said...

I usually disagree with you, strongly. However, what you said has been said for years by this man.

No one listened to him either, white liberals and NAM pressure groups called him a racist and classist.

If you read his argument in full, you will see the suggestion at the end is identical to what you Collier (and I in the past) have said.

However since he talks the reality of what the average person's aptitude in stark terms, he is dismissed, but no one has disproved his thesis.

Miki A. said...

I would have to agree with you on this subject. I also believe that the only socially appropriate option for kids graduating from high school is going directly to college, and i also believe that this ideal is destructive. Not only does this put unnecessary and unrealistic pressures, but can lead an unprepared student down a road that is not easily taken back.

I graduated from high school last June with the intention of going to college. However i could not attend because of a failed class. Instantly I felt left behind. As though me not going to college with the rest of my class was going to set me back and i would just be forgotten, another addition to the uneducated slum of our nation. However, this was probably the most incredible thing I could've asked for. Not only was I going to college for the complete wrong reasons (when boys and 'love' get involved, things can get a little or a lot messy) but I had no idea what I was supposed to be doing in school, what the point was for my being there. There was nothing that really grabbed my interest, that I wanted to pay tens of thousands of dollars to learn, i felt as though there was no purpose. If i had not taken time off of school and instead of focusing on what classes I can take to get the highest paid job, or what my salary was going to consist of so i could retire quickest, I would not have had the crucial time I needed to reflect on what I really wanted to get out of college, and life in general. This time, I believe is necessary to growth in many ways.

The only things that really irks me about this situation is this: One of my closest friends encountered a similar situation, where the college he planned on attending was suddenly out of reach. (for clarification he is black and i am white) Our college counselors suggested that he immedietly be enrolled in community college so as to make up for his lost time at the university. He made it seem as though if my friend did not go to school it would be the end of any chance for a good job etc. However when talking to me, he encouraged the time off, if that was the route I was devout on following. I do not agree with the fact that there is 'white supremacy' in the world, but sadly it is weaved all throughout American history. Why one person should do better out in the world than another based on the color of their skin is a constant enigma to me.

Anyways, i do believe school is now more vital than ever before, considering one needs a bachelors degree for any employer to even be interested, but i do not believe that it is always the right option to go to college right out of high school. There are options for people of every color in every situation. Its just a matter of not following the masses and being shoved into the herd along with everyone else.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Dragon Horse, and I'd like to add that low-skill immigration and "free trade" aren't doing any favors for our high school and college dropouts.

I often hear from supporters of these disastrous policies that people who have been driven out of the job market need to "get an education". Their sociopathic greed for cheap gardeners and iPods has blinded them to what used to be common knowledge - that not everyone can be a doctor or a banker. This is especially true among bureaucrats, among whom credentialism has entirely replaced meritocracy.

I attended top schools, but unlike most of my peers I actually feel some empathy for my fellow Americans. I don't think that Americans of average ability should be forced to compete with Third-World peasants via outsourcing and insourcing, and I don't appreciate our elites turning formerly middle-class neighborhoods into ghettos to satisfy their lust for profits, while they live in gated communities.

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with one anonymous comment about how there should be new ways to be able to help those who are not cut out for the college world. Just because a person does not do well in college/school does not mean that they are not smart, that they are not able to do what any other person who has a bachelors can. Yes, people who do go to college have what I would call "formal training" but how many of those people who spend a shit load of their money on years and years of school, just trying to figure out what they want to do with their lives. School isn't as glorifying as our parents make it out to be. Learning is what takes us further, but who's to say what a person is suppose to study, what a person is suppose to act like or what they are suppose to do be?
Blacks, Whites, Latinos, Asians, all have the power to go to school, some may go to better schools than others, but in the end they all get that education that we are "suppose" to get in order to be lawyers and doctors and whatever. Just because a person, not matter their race/ethnicity, went to a not so common school or a community college, doesnt mean that they dont have what it takes to be in the exact same level as those who are attending Harvard and Yale.
People jsut want to be able to get somewhere in their lives, and for those who are less fortunate they want to be able to provide for their families and and be good rolemodels and i feel that sometimes schools dont see that, and people dont see that. People are only seeing the small picture what is obvious. if a latin woman wants to go to school but cannot afford it, there are ways to help her get the education she needs and thats the kind of help that should be color/race blind becuase in the end arent we all jsut looking to get ahead?