Should All Students Go to College?

Russ Steele

jeffpelline says: June 20, 2014 at 6:42 am

Jesuit High School is looking better all the time! LOL. For the record, the entire Sacramento Diocese has embraced Common Core, and the Pope is a Jesuit, known for work in education (founding schools, colleges, universities and seminaries), intellectual research, and cultural pursuits.

Let’s hope the vocal hard-right wing nuts in our community (some of whom shun a college education) don’t ruin our solid public schools with their single-minded agenda. It’s selfish and uniformed.

I am a right wing conservative, and I do not think that every high school graduate should go on to college directly from high school. Some grads know what career path they want to pursue, others are less certain. Some grads are just not qualified, and would be better served to pursue a career based on specific skill sets, consistent with their interests and level of academic achievements.

One of my most satisfying jobs was a heavy equipment operator. At the end of the day, I could look at my accomplishments, the yards of ditch dug, the cubic yards of earth moved, the acres plowed, etc. The pay was excellent.

When High School Councilors push all students toward a career that requires four years of college they are doing the graduates a disservice, only about 30% of community college students graduate with a two year degree, or transfer to a 4 year university.

A new study conducted by the Institute for Higher Education Leadership & Policy at Cal State Sacramento and reported by the Los Angeles Times found that the large majority of community college students failed to obtain a degree or transfer to a four-year institution. These students typically dropped out – some with a significant amount of debt and no degree to help them. In addition, only 40% of community college students achieved sufficient credit hours in school to boost their potential in the workforce.

Insisting that all students are college material does the student a disservice, and can do grave damage to the students self esteem, when they fail and have crushing debt. It would be better if high schools helped students develop business skills, the ability to enter local commerce with the skills local merchants, contractors, and transportation companies need.

Demanding that all students go to college is being an elite liberal snob. Each graduate has their own set of needs and desires and college may not be one of them. Yet, the schools are not preparing these students for the alternatives.

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About Russ Steele

Freelance writer and climate change blogger. Russ spent twenty years in the Air Force as a navigator specializing in electronics warfare and digital systems. After his service he was employed for sixteen years as concept developer for TRW, an aerospace and automotive company, and then was CEO of a non-profit Internet provider for 18 months. Russ's articles have appeared in Comstock's Business, Capitol Journal, Trailer Life, Monitoring Times, and Idaho Magazine.
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7 Responses to Should All Students Go to College?

  1. Dena says:

    I have very mixed feelings on this subject as I have lived through the worst of it. The best description of my profisional skills are Assembler firware programmer. I went to college and I had no idea that I wanted to be a programmer till i received my first password. Don’t forget that computers were far and few in the early 1970’s. Very few of the things I learned in college were used in my professional life incuding calculas which resulted in me not obtaining a degree even though I was an ace programmer. I have found often a degree is needed to get past the personal office in most companies but once past personal, you are rated on your skills instead of your paper work.
    The real solution is to have companies look at the person and skills instead of looking at the paperwork After that, the training programs can directly target the job and colleges could reduce the number of hours required to obtain a degree. The per credit cost is high so if you can remove some classes you will never need, the cost of education can be reduced.

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    • fish says:

      The real solution is to have companies look at the person and skills instead of looking at the paperwork After that, the training programs can directly target the job and colleges could reduce the number of hours required to obtain a degree.

      The problem with that Dena is that most HR departments are woefully unequipped to do what you describe. That’s why so many people find it easier to get a job through networking and going in through the “back door”….the consensus seems to be the HR depts. are pretty useless.

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      • Dena says:

        The big problem I always have is I don’t have the network. It may be fine for job hoppers who work for a year or two and then jump to a job paying more, but I stick to the same job and most often work with a half dozen people or less. The job I am working on part time because of downsizing, I started January 13, 1986. While I did talk to many customers, they didn’t do the type of work I do.
        This is why I say company need to change. I am sure there are may people who could do the job and they could have may more but they need to do something about the personal firewall that is over selective.

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      • Russ Steele says:

        When I operated the TRW lab in Sacramento we used mostly word of mouth network solutions and student internships. We did not have a Lab HR and corporate HR was not great at finding good candidates. They were paperwork processors.

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  2. fish says:

    Why you would be concerned what jeffy thinks is beyond me.

    My general observations regarding how educational issues, both locally and nationwide are examined, is that you, George, and Greg seem to be genuinely concerned with how students are being educated…content, level of rigor, and method of delivery. jeffy and his coterie seem much more preoccupied with not saying anything derogatory about the system in place. Nobody knows knows yet if Common Core will be a benefit or not but questioning it is heresy in jeffys eyes….any diversion from the orthodoxy must be stamped out.

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  3. fish says:

    Thanks Russ! This is exactly the post to which I was referring.

    Your very valid arguments aside I find the passage below questionable.

    Let’s hope the vocal hard-right wing nuts in our community (some of whom shun a college education) don’t ruin our solid public schools with their single-minded agenda. It’s selfish and uniformed.

    I would hope that jeffy could perhaps name one or two of those who he claims made the statement or actively espoused an anti-education position. It’s just good journalism….I’d hate to see a man with as distinguished a career as our jeffy to go the way of Diana Griego Erwin because he played fast and loose with his “reporting”. He can make the argument that it’s just a blog and he shouldn’t be required to maintain the same standards as a newspaper but someone who is a prone as jeffy is to tossing out “Scoop” and “My reporting” should perhaps make it clear to the readers that he isn’t a reporter any longer if he merely wants to blog.

    If not…who does he claim “actively shun” a college education?

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    • Russ Steele says:

      Fish,

      I was concerned that he might be talking about me, as I was proposing that it was vital for graduating students to develop skill sets that will enable them to be employable, regardless if they go to college or not. Some college grads are not able to get a job, because they lack any skill sets an employer needs. Since the key to success is skill sets, college grad or not, this is the most important asset. There are now methods for obtaining these skill sets with out going to college. MOOCs are one example. It is possible to obtain obtain programing skills, data analysis skills, graphic skills, geolocation skills, customer service skills, etc with out going to college. My preferred scheme is for a high school grad who wants to go to college to develop a skill set that he/she can use to find employment during college, reducing the need for loans. Students used to work their way through college flipping burgers or as a barista, but those jobs no longer pay enough. But, programing and data analysis skills are in big demand and have good salaries, even for part timers.

      College or no college, the secret is an employable skill set. Our high schools should be focusing on the development of skill sets, rather than focusing on passing the ATC and SAT. Those skill sets give a grads and advantage, college or no college.

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