Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

“Kid, I’m Sorry, but You’re Just Not College Material”

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • “Kid, I’m Sorry, but You’re Just Not College Material”

    “Kid, I’m Sorry, but You’re Just Not College Material”

    Is exactly what we should be telling a lot of high school students.

    By Michael J. Petrilli


    Why push students down educational paths that will likely result in them dropping out? We should give everybody options that will help them succeed.

    It’s an article of faith in the school reform community that we should be striving to prepare all students for success in college—if not a four-year degree, then some other recognized and reputable post-secondary credential. The rationale is clear and generally compelling; as a recent Pew study reiterated, people who graduate from college earn significantly more than those who do not. Other research indicates that low-income students in particular benefit from college, becoming nearly three times more likely to make it into the middle class than their peers who earn some (or no) college credits. And it’s not just about money: College graduates are also healthier, more involved in their communities, and happier in their jobs.

    Thus, in the reformers’ bible, the greatest sin is to look a student in the eye and say, “Kid, I’m sorry, but you’re just not college material.”

    But what if such a cautionary sermon is exactly what some teenagers need? What if encouraging students to take a shot at the college track—despite very long odds of crossing its finish line—does them more harm than good? What if our own hyper-credentialed life experiences and ideologies are blinding us to alternative pathways to the middle class? Including some that might be a lot more viable for a great many young people? What if we should be following the lead of countries like Germany, where “tracking” isn’t a dirty word but a common-sense way to prepare teenagers for respected, well-paid work?

    Here’s a stark fact: According to research by Georgetown’s Anthony Carnevale and Jeff Strohl, less than 10 percent of poor children now graduate with a four-year college degree. Imagine that all of our reform efforts prove successful, from initiatives to bolster the prenatal health of disadvantaged babies, to high-quality early-childhood experiences, to dramatic improvements in K-12 education, to serious interventions and supports at the college level. Push the pedal to the metal and assume that nothing crashes. Where do we get? Maybe in the course of a generation, we could double the proportion of poor children making it to a college diploma. Tripling it would be a staggering accomplishment. Anything approaching that would be an enormous achievement, unprecedented in the annals of social progress. Yet that would still leave two-thirds or more of low-income youngsters needing another path if they’re truly going to access the middle class.

    Let’s see how this works from the perspective of a student. Imagine that you’re finishing ninth grade at a large comprehensive urban high school. The year hasn’t gone very well; because you are reading and doing math at a sixth-grade level, much of your coursework is a struggle. Nor have you had much of an opportunity to develop the “non-cognitive skills” that would help you to remediate the situation. You are foundering, failing courses, and thinking about dropping out.

    Though we should be working hard to improve elementary and middle schools so that you don’t reach this point, the fact remains that you have. A rational system would acknowledge that, with just three years until graduation, the likelihood of you getting to a true “college readiness” level by the end of 12th grade is extremely low. Even if all the pieces come together in dramatic fashion—you get serious help with your basic skills, someone finds you a great mentor, your motivation for hitting the books increases significantly—you probably aren’t going to make it. You need another pathway, one with significantly greater chances of success and a real payoff at the end—a job that will allow you to be self-sufficient. You need high-quality career and technical education, ideally the kind that combines rigorous coursework with a real-world apprenticeship, and maybe even a paycheck.

    To be sure, your long-term earnings will probably be lower than if you squeak out a college degree. But that’s a false choice, because you’re almost surely not going to get that college degree anyway. The decision is whether to follow the college route to almost certain failure, or to follow another route to significant success.
    Read it all.

    Even if you subscribe to the "college for everybody" theory, remember that if your wish came true, financial gains from college would simply flatline in 3/4 of degrees. Beyond that, to get the entire population out with a degree would mean dumbing down course work even more. You'd have no income gains and no educational gains.

    You'd have really expensive paperwork.

    Slate
    "Alexa, slaughter the fatted calf."

  • #2
    Originally posted by Gingersnap View Post
    Read it all.

    Even if you subscribe to the "college for everybody" theory, remember that if your wish came true, financial gains from college would simply flatline in 3/4 of degrees. Beyond that, to get the entire population out with a degree would mean dumbing down course work even more. You'd have no income gains and no educational gains.

    You'd have really expensive paperwork.

    Slate
    Isn't that what we have now?
    Not where I breathe, but where I love, I live...
    Robert Southwell, S.J.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by phillygirl View Post
      Isn't that what we have now?
      Kind of.

      Because of tutoring and my job, I think about this issue a lot. Currently, we are filling field work positions with people who have completed science majors and who often have substantial graduate work. These are jobs that 10 years ago went to high school grads who could pass a math test.

      Trust me when I tell you that the salary doesn't reflect college goodness.

      But why wouldn't we? College grads will work for the same money and there are so many of them!
      "Alexa, slaughter the fatted calf."

      Comment


      • #4
        My plumber in Florida had a master's in something from my undergrad alma mater. Made a lot more money than I did (he had his own business).
        "Since the historic ruling, the Lovings have become icons for equality. Mildred released a statement on the 40th anniversary of the ruling in 2007: 'I am proud that Richard’s and my name is on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness, and the family that so many people, Black or white, young or old, gay or straight, seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all. That’s what Loving, and loving, are all about.'." - Mildred Loving (Loving v. Virginia)

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Celeste Chalfonte View Post
          My plumber in Florida had a master's in something from my undergrad alma mater. Made a lot more money than I did (he had his own business).
          And he didn't need the "Master's in something".
          If it pays, it stays

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Celeste Chalfonte View Post
            My plumber in Florida had a master's in something from my undergrad alma mater. Made a lot more money than I did (he had his own business).
            I used to get mocked for making the comment, "My plumber wears a Rolex," (the guy still does). I think part of the change that's happening now is the shrinking of the middle management ranks because of automation and the low proportion of any college degree being a sure path to financial success.

            Too many millenials just don't want to work hard these days also. They don't see success as an attainable goal, "I'm just as good as those rich people, I'm going to go get that for myself." They see success as an entitlement, "Those greedy bosses owe me."
            "Faith is nothing but a firm assent of the mind : which, if it be regulated, as is our duty, cannot be afforded to anything but upon good reason, and so cannot be opposite to it."
            -John Locke

            "It's all been melded together into one giant, authoritarian, leftist scream."
            -Newman

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Frostbit View Post
              And he didn't need the "Master's in something".
              Most of Mel's cousins have very expensive college educations, more than we could afford to do for our kids. None of them are as successful as she was 4 years out of school. All of my kids will get at least a Bachelor's because it's about the same as a high school diploma was when I was a child, but all of my kids will have some sort of skill also. Hopefully that combination will provide enough backup routes for them to adapt.
              "Faith is nothing but a firm assent of the mind : which, if it be regulated, as is our duty, cannot be afforded to anything but upon good reason, and so cannot be opposite to it."
              -John Locke

              "It's all been melded together into one giant, authoritarian, leftist scream."
              -Newman

              Comment


              • #8
                I must have grown up in a different America, I swear.

                I agree with the sentiment but in my experience this whole thing is very weird. Just about everyone in my family who went to college and trade school did so with a purpose (administrator, nurse, teacher, truck driver ... he makes the most) and those that didn't, work in trades such as automotive and large construction equipment repair, industrial level maintenance work and the like after spending years in the industry. My nephew, who will graduate soon and could probably track scholarship to any college in Arkansas, is going trade school. This is not that big of a deal.
                Colonel Vogel : What does the diary tell you that it doesn't tell us?

                Professor Henry Jones : It tells me, that goose-stepping morons like yourself should try *reading* books instead of *burning* them!

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Billy Jingo View Post
                  I must have grown up in a different America, I swear.

                  I agree with the sentiment but in my experience this whole thing is very weird. Just about everyone in my family who went to college and trade school did so with a purpose (administrator, nurse, teacher, truck driver ... he makes the most) and those that didn't, work in trades such as automotive and large construction equipment repair, industrial level maintenance work and the like after spending years in the industry. My nephew, who will graduate soon and could probably track scholarship to any college in Arkansas, is going trade school. This is not that big of a deal.
                  I think that the "everyone must go to a 4-year liberal arts school" mentality was late to come to the more rural areas, as compared to urban and semi-urban areas. I think part of the reason for this is that those from rural areas who got a 4-year degree for the most part tended to move away and go to the cities. Especially 30 or more years ago, you could put that accounting or business admin or engineering degree to a lot more use in Memphis or Dallas or Houston or Atlanta than you could in Wildersville or Eldorado or Magnolia.
                  It's been ten years since that lonely day I left you
                  In the morning rain, smoking gun in hand
                  Ten lonely years but how my heart, it still remembers
                  Pray for me, momma, I'm a gypsy now

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Gingersnap View Post
                    Read it all.

                    Even if you subscribe to the "college for everybody" theory, remember that if your wish came true, financial gains from college would simply flatline in 3/4 of degrees. Beyond that, to get the entire population out with a degree would mean dumbing down course work even more. You'd have no income gains and no educational gains.

                    You'd have really expensive paperwork.

                    Slate
                    I would love to earn what my HVAC guy makes. Hell, my auto mechanic is a millionaire. All the MBA's in the world combined with all the English Lit majors aren't worth squat when you need something fixed. There is a place in the world for everyone, but under the house I need a plumber, not a Gender Studies PhD candidate. Or Sacred Music, or Art Appreciation, etc…

                    I think the real problem is pretentiousness. We have a large segment of the population who believes that they should go to college as a rite of passage, to study whatever they want regardless of their station in life. Some of these people go on to make it big, but the vast majority are middle class people indulging themselves in the idle pursuits of the wealthy… without the wealth.

                    PS, my plumber has a degree in Psychology. So did two of the waitresses I worked with years ago. My cousin has a degree in Sacred Music, which has no practical application, is absolutely nonessential, and his PhD only qualifies him to teach the subject in which he has invested many years. I wish he had become an electrician, we could use one of those in the family.
                    The year's at the spring
                    And day's at the morn;
                    Morning's at seven;
                    The hill-side's dew-pearled;
                    The lark's on the wing;
                    The snail's on the thorn:
                    God's in his heaven—
                    All's right with the world!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Novaheart View Post
                      I would love to earn what my HVAC guy makes. Hell, my auto mechanic is a millionaire. All the MBA's in the world combined with all the English Lit majors aren't worth squat when you need something fixed. There is a place in the world for everyone, but under the house I need a plumber, not a Gender Studies PhD candidate. Or Sacred Music, or Art Appreciation, etc…

                      I think the real problem is pretentiousness. We have a large segment of the population who believes that they should go to college as a rite of passage, to study whatever they want regardless of their station in life. Some of these people go on to make it big, but the vast majority are middle class people indulging themselves in the idle pursuits of the wealthy… without the wealth.

                      PS, my plumber has a degree in Psychology. So did two of the waitresses I worked with years ago. My cousin has a degree in Sacred Music, which has no practical application, is absolutely nonessential, and his PhD only qualifies him to teach the subject in which he has invested many years. I wish he had become an electrician, we could use one of those in the family.
                      My wife calls it a pyramid scheme. She would love to get her doctorate in Aesthetics but it would be of no practical value and would be a purely intellectual pursuit. And this is someone who has actually sold her art. For money.
                      Colonel Vogel : What does the diary tell you that it doesn't tell us?

                      Professor Henry Jones : It tells me, that goose-stepping morons like yourself should try *reading* books instead of *burning* them!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Billy Jingo View Post
                        I must have grown up in a different America, I swear.

                        I agree with the sentiment but in my experience this whole thing is very weird. Just about everyone in my family who went to college and trade school did so with a purpose (administrator, nurse, teacher, truck driver ... he makes the most) and those that didn't, work in trades such as automotive and large construction equipment repair, industrial level maintenance work and the like after spending years in the industry. My nephew, who will graduate soon and could probably track scholarship to any college in Arkansas, is going trade school. This is not that big of a deal.
                        In Suburban Maryland "Every kid to college." was the mantra of the education business. That's why tradesmen make out like bandits in the DC area. Unfortunately, when "Every kid to college." came along they closed the vocational schools. But let's look at why they did it. It was well intended, but this road to Hell is obvious.

                        The GI Bill after WWII sent a lot of people to college who wouldn't have otherwise been able to go. It hugely expanded the pool of college educated people available to do jobs which really didn't require a college education. At the same time, we had a cultural revolution which demanded that employers hire qualified people, perhaps even stretching a bit to cross class lines. Luckily, employers could now use a college degree as a requirement, whether it was necessary or not, to weed out the undesirables.

                        America decided it would be the first post industrial society. Let the rest of the world go down into the mines, we're going to manage people and resources. America started looking down on blue collar workers and their culture.

                        Vocational schools became reform schools. Boys were sent to vocational school for being truant, being aggressive, being difficult, for not being girls. Vocational schools were run and staffed by old fashioned men who were being displaced by the women who were taking over the culture of the public schools.

                        The schools were desegregated. The vocational schools were closed. The old men retired. The new educational system was created by people who believed that human beings are a blank slate for them to write on, and program, and if there were disparities it was the fault of the old white men who created the racist, sexist, istist institutions. It was a uniquely American problem, but the solution was clear: Busses. Get the kids away from their parents, bus them all over hell and creation, and keep all the balls in the air so the parents and community will have as little control as possible.

                        Americans moved farther out.
                        Last edited by Novaheart; Thursday, March 20, 2014, 10:34 AM.
                        The year's at the spring
                        And day's at the morn;
                        Morning's at seven;
                        The hill-side's dew-pearled;
                        The lark's on the wing;
                        The snail's on the thorn:
                        God's in his heaven—
                        All's right with the world!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Billy Jingo View Post
                          My wife calls it a pyramid scheme. She would love to get her doctorate in Aesthetics but it would be of no practical value and would be a purely intellectual pursuit. And this is someone who has actually sold her art. For money.
                          I sat down with the salary figures for Pinellas County schools. I compared lifetime earnings for teachers with different degrees. Assuming that one stays in college to get his PhD, and the other one goes to work after getting his bachelors, the PhD never pays for itself. We'll leave aside that there is a very good chance that there is no academic function to having a PhD, especially one in Education. The only time the PhD pays for itself is if you become a principal. Well let's do the math on that: there are 100 teachers, four vice principals, and one principal who will be selected if and only if he (more likely she) fulfills the quota for the demographics. That's not a very good bet.
                          The year's at the spring
                          And day's at the morn;
                          Morning's at seven;
                          The hill-side's dew-pearled;
                          The lark's on the wing;
                          The snail's on the thorn:
                          God's in his heaven—
                          All's right with the world!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I question the premise that the education doled out to a student who drops out is wasted. Our digital world is greatly enriched by the fact that Steve Jobs took a calligraphy class after dropping out of college.

                            Also, I think some lines are being blurred in the argument. The OP speaks of actively discouraging people from going to college. There is a lot of space between "we shouldn't discourage people who want to go to college" and "everybody must go to college." And somewhere in between are other verbs: allow; enable; encourage. I think you'll find very, very, few people who actually get behind the notion of forcing people to attend college.
                            Enjoy.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Norm dePlume View Post
                              I question the premise that the education doled out to a student who drops out is wasted. Our digital world is greatly enriched by the fact that Steve Jobs took a calligraphy class after dropping out of college.

                              Also, I think some lines are being blurred in the argument. The OP speaks of actively discouraging people from going to college. There is a lot of space between "we shouldn't discourage people who want to go to college" and "everybody must go to college." And somewhere in between are other verbs: allow; enable; encourage. I think you'll find very, very, few people who actually get behind the notion of forcing people to attend college.
                              Leaving the OP aside, I think the sentiment is that we need to change the attitude about trades. Nova touched on it a bit but there is an ingrained disdain for trades for some reason in our culture. Personally, I think it is a hostility toward Labor from some and a general snobbishness by others. The claim that kids don't want to work is idiotic. The claim that they are not encouraged to explore the trades is not.
                              Colonel Vogel : What does the diary tell you that it doesn't tell us?

                              Professor Henry Jones : It tells me, that goose-stepping morons like yourself should try *reading* books instead of *burning* them!

                              Comment

                              Working...
                              X