Most high school graduates in 2005 will go on to college; half will fail to earn a degree of any kind, writes Richard Lee Colvin, director of the Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media at Teachers College, Columbia. Two-thirds of black and Latino college students do not earn a degree. Unprepared for college, the drop-outs will work sporadically in low-paying, no-benefit jobs, Colvin predicts.
These are the students who met every high school requirement, scoring higher grades than most of their classmates in courses the academic establishment said would prepare them for the future.
That was a lie.
Yes, these students have the required credentials. But they don’t have the skills. They won’t comprehend what they read in college well enough to jump into classroom discussions. They can’t write analytically. They’ll find college-level math over their heads. The California State University system this year required 58% of its freshmen to take remedial classes in math or writing or both, while acknowledging that such classes do a lousy job of helping laggards catch up. In fact, those who take one remedial class are twice as likely to drop out of school, and those who take two rarely finish.
As baby boomers retire, the economy will be seeking to fill 14 million white-collar jobs that require a college education, says economist Anthony Carnevale.
Our current system produces two bachelor’s degrees for every 10 students who start high school, Colvin writes. He suggests some solutions.