Spring has sprung, April has arrived, and with both, the newest batch of college acceptance (and, regrettably, rejection) letters for seniors. I find myself (admittedly vicariously) awaiting this time nearly as avidly as many of my students. Perhaps it's the 250+ recommendation letters I wrote this year that has something to do with my anticipation.
There was both good and bad news this year, as always; and the usual expected acceptances and rejections, along with the rare surprise and, naturally, the what-the-fuck-were-these-dumbass-admissions-officers-smoking decisions.
One issue I think is overemphasized is the notion that "every student should go to college". This is one of those oft–repeated phrases that politicians and school board members in particular are known to bloviate upon. It sounds like a great idea. How could anyone possibly opposed to it?
Attention political hacks and associated carney-barker-hangers-on: have you considered the idea that perhaps some kids don't want to go to college right after high school? Lip service is often paid to the notion that students can create their own destiny, the-world-is-your-oyster and all that. That's all fine and good until a student muses about not going to college, at which time s/he is surrounded by naysayers stating that they will be forever condemned to a lifetime of low-wage exploitative labor and a ghetto or trailer-park existence, earn a reservation to one of the Circles of Hell, etc. etc.
Do any of these people consider the notion that at the ripe-old age of 17 or 18, that a kid might not know what they want to do with the rest of their life? That they might want to gain some life experience before deciding on what career path to embark upon? This is one of those classic issues where something gets repeated enough that eventually large numbers of people accept it as being the truth, without bothering to do any reseach into its validity, à la "Leopold!".
I find it amusing that the same people who demand that every student go to college often simultaneously decry the rapidly increasing costs associated with college. Well, now, let's scratch our collective heads and see if we can figure this one out. You run around telling kids they're doomed to failure unless they go to college right away; therefore more kids decide they should go to college. The (easily predicted) result: rapidly increasing demand, but accompanied by little, no, or even negative growth in supply. Now why might tuition be increasing? (As a side note, the College Board is among the most notorious of these misguided cheerleaders, in a thinly-veiled attempt to protect their near-monopoly/racket on college entrance exams. But I digress. More to come on the College Board, an organization for which I have worked on occasion, in later posts.)
A few summers ago I attended a professional development workshop at a company from which we purchase certain equipment. Some of their manufacturing facilities were on site and as we toured them we were told about the dire shortage of skilled machinists. This job requires attention to detail, hard work, and meticulousness, definitely–but no college degree. Oh, and by the way, I was told that the machinists there can make significantly more than I do, as a teacher with a bachelor's and master's degree–NOT in education–but in the field in which I teach. This was also in an area with a much lower cost of living than my own.
It is interesting that if someone were to DARE give these misguided college lemming-cheerleaders the raspberry...er, I mean voice an opinion that suggests that college shouldn't be de rigeur, they are attacked as being "elitist" (right up there with accusations of "selfishness" or "greed" that often indicate that someone's illogical and closely-held dogma that won't stand up to even the mildest scrutiny is being challenged). Further, it is ironic and amusing that the same people who accuse others of being elitist turn their noses up at the notion of junior college or vocational training.
"Now, I don't want to go off on a rant here, but...of course, that's just my opinion. I could be wrong."
For some (in my humble opinion) interesting counterpoints to the notion that all students should go to college, see here, here, and here.