All your plan are belong to us

How many different ways can I say ambivalence?  Courtesy of

The Oregon House of Representatives recently approved a bill that would make the laying out of a future education or employment plan a requirement towards a high school diploma, The Huffington Post reports. House Bill 2732 requires students to either complete and submit an application to college or internship program, enlist in the military, or attend an apprenticeship orientation workshop before they can receive a diploma.

One the one hand: “Yes!  Kids need guidance and driving everyone to college is silly.”

On the other hand: “School isn’t shouldn’t be about getting a job or going to college.  It should be about developing skills and autonomy.”

But back to the one hand: “Yes but autonomy requires an ability to plan sensibly about the future.  No one is saying that the student has to implement the plan, are they?  Just make it.”

But the other hand replies: “Then why not require all three of every student?  Why risk derailing a kid’s self-image?  Isn’t this just the slightest bit eerie?”

But the one: “It’s no worse than the silly community service requirements that we’ve got these days.”

Then the other: “That’s your argument?  It’s not a flagrant constitutional violation?  You should be able to go to school, learn, and get a diploma based on your demonstrated learning.  What you do with it is your business and your business alone.”

“Paranoid hyper-individualist.”

“Statist commie sympathizer.”

Then my hands start to hurt each other.


  1. What about kids whose plans are something other than college, the military, or an apprenticeship? I’ve got a bunch of Mormon friends, and most of them spent a year as missionaries after high school graduation. There was also a classmate who married her boyfriend and had a baby the following year. If the student has satisfied the academic requirements for a diploma, then it’s not the school’s business what he/she chooses to do after graduation.

  2. In IEP world, it’s called a transitional plan.

  3. It looks like another lame hoop that will have no effect. Kids will look at the requirements, and pick the one that seems easiest–probably an application to a college that doesn’t require an essay….

    On the other hand, it will be a huge bonus to the schools that have really easy applications and charge application fees.

  4. All but a few of the plans will be utter fakes and a huge waste of time.

  5. Cranberry says:

    I have enormous problems with a state government requiring students to enlist in the armed forces in return for a diploma. I rather thought soldiers should volunteer, rather than be conscripted, or legally forced to enroll. In any case, one apparently needs a high school diploma in order to enlist, so holding the diploma hostage until a student enlists would be a non-starter. (Also, I think you could argue that withholding a diploma pending enlistment would constitute coercion, and I don’t think any contract is valid if it’s signed under coercion.) Stunning that state legislators wouldn’t think this through. The education system has to get beyond the image of the military as a place to dump all their failures.

    Also, the scale of the impertinence of the state legislator who proposed this is staggering. I’m sure the military and colleges prefer to receive applications from people who sincerely desire to enlist or enroll (respectively.) Requiring ALL students to make a dumb show of certain actions immensely increases the workload for the military and the colleges, without necessarily increasing the number of students attending college.

    Requiring all high school students to apply to a college or internship program will be terrible for the students who are marginal students, but really do want to attend college. There will be no way for the colleges to determine whether the student applying for college really wants to go to college. When in doubt, stick by the applications from middle-class students with good gpas.

    It would be a great make-work program for retired schoolteachers to start consulting companies providing apprenticeship orientation workshops.

  6. Excellent argument, Cranberry.

    I found myself wondering whether there would be cookies at the apprenticeship orientation workshops.

  7. Deirdre Mundy says:

    Also, nagging students to have a post-graduation plan should be the PARENTS” job, not the schools.

    And maybe if schools focused on making sure every graduate had at least a basic level of reading, writing and arithmetic skills, more kids WOULD be able to line up work after graduation.

    Also, interestingly enough, “line up a full time job” is NOT one of the approved options. So if you’ve been working at McD’s part time all through HS and your boss is going to promote you to manager as soon as you graduate, well….. sorry kid. Better get that college application in the mail!

  8. “I have enormous problems with a state government requiring students to enlist in the armed forces in return for a diploma.”

    I have enormous problems with a state government requiring students to attend schools that they control the curriculum for. Once you admit to a mandatory “free” education, you’re toast.

    Of course, with sufficient community pressure, students could file a default career plan, something like “I plan to be an unemployed shiftless nuisance, living with my parents, aspiring to become a lifelong Burden on Society.”

  9. As a career coach for college students and recent grads, I found this fascinating, including the comments. Most of the students I see who are failing at launching a career are struggling because they don’t have a plan. It impacts disconnected and “at-risk” students the most- students who don’t have parents to help them, and who were told that if they studied hard and went to college, they’d have a nice middle class life and nothing about how they’re going to do that. There was recently a study out of Stanford that showed that coaching on these kinds of plans positively impacted student retention tremendously.

    In my BA program, the head of my department wouldn’t sign off my degree until I gave him a plan for what I was going to do after graduation. It was the most helpful thing an educator has ever done and I still talk to him almost 15 years later and thank him for it.

    That being said, the bill is deeply flawed. And I understand why your hands hurt!