Saturday, May 15, 2010

"Plan B: Skip college"

From the NYT:

"The idea that four years of higher education will translate into a better job, higher earnings and a happier life — a refrain sure to be repeated this month at graduation ceremonies across the country — has been pounded into the heads of schoolchildren, parents and educators. But there’s an underside to that conventional wisdom."

The article goes on to give statistics on the (low) percentages of students who finish 4 year degrees in even 6 years. Students who were in the bottom quarter of their high school classes have particularly low odds.

If that were the only issue we might focus on better preparing students for college and supporting them once they are there, but the article raises another issue: relatively few jobs, especially the fastest growing jobs, require college degrees. Many of these jobs do require skills- but they are skills that may be better taught in vocational and apprentice programs rather than a college setting. In addition to technical skills, a need for "workplace" skills (ie, how to communicate and behave on a job) is noted. The article acknowledges the personal and instrinsic value of a college education, but makes a strong case for looking at the alternatives as well.

1 comment:

Questioner said...

With such a blinding need for career training and career skills, the idea of a CTE academy for Pittsburgh makes a lot of sense. One of the things a CTE academy might do is help students to use their Pittsburgh Promise money in a way that will benefit them most.