College isn’t for everyone

The crusade to send everyone to college has backfired, writes Robert Samuelson. It’s dumbed down colleges and filled high schools with bored, frustrated students who see no connection between their college-prep classes and their goals.

In Canada, male apprentices earn slightly more than community college graduates, new research shows.

About Joanne


  1. Not surprised that some students are frustrated. Like you indicated, different people have different goals. Some of those goals don’t require a college education. So, giving them an education that promotes that is irrelevant and thus, a distraction for them.

  2. ms_teacher says:

    in the district I work in, in 2005 A-G requirements were mandated for our high schools. Since then, we have seen the drop out rate go from 30% to almost 50%. In addition to that, teachers are having to justify the number of “F’s” that are given and those who are deemed as giving too many failing grades (based on an unexplained criteria of what “too many” means) are being forced to attend PD programs.

    It’s oxymoronic to me that on the one hand we don’t want the “soft bigotry of low expectations” so we push college for all while on the other hold teachers accountable when students can’t meet unrealistic goals set for them & then fail.

    I have a Master’s degree in Education and I am looking at enrolling in a doctoral program. My husband earned journeyman training in a field where he can work with his hands. This required a few years of trade school after graduating high school. He has never, ever expressed a desire to go back to school as school was never that important to him. However, he successfully manages a small business and actually makes more money than I do.

  3. I am a college professor, so I see first-hand students who need so much remedial work that they really do not belong in college… they don’t have the aptitude nor desire. And actually, the aptitude thing can be remedied… unfortunately, I see plenty of students who have no motivation to fill in the gaps and rise to the challenge… these students really belong elsewhere.

    And yet, I get a little concerned when I read articles like this… my fear, perhaps unfounded, is that a district may say, hey that school is filled with students unlikely to go to college, so let’s not bother giving them resources for advanced classes… and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. And despite certain regulars here who poo-poo any concerns over disparate impact, yes, it does worry me that this will most likely occur at school filled with poor students.

    • There’s no reason that urban districts could not have a school or schools specifically for their advanced students, at all levels. The current situation is all to likely be boring for the most talented and motivated and individual schools, particularly at MS-HS levels, may not have sufficient numbers of advanced students to ensure that the advanced classes contain only those whose preparation justifies their presence. Pretending that a AP English class is really AP when half the class reads at 7th-grade level or less and most of the rest are at 10th-grade or less is ridiculous. The same goes for an algebra I class where most of the kids are below 5th-grade level. This situation is also likely to exist in some suburban districts (my English example is the typical class of one suburban DC teacher), which may be geographically dense enough to make the same solution feasible. Even though the urban school is unlikely to be like TJ (which has been highly exceptional), motivated and able kids deserve to have their needs met as much as the kids at the opposite end. Also, qualified HS kids could be offered a college option, like MN’s PSEO program.

    • PS: We should also bring back serious vo-tech schools/programs. Despite frequently being called “dumping grounds” for the lazy or less able, they are/should be far from that. My FIL was the principal of a tech HS, to which one had to apply (essentially a magnet) and whose graduates had good jobs upon graduation. This could be done cooperatively with CCs. ALL kids and parents, starting in ES, should know what is needed to get into a tech, college prep or other available programs – while there’s time for them to prepare.

  4. Oh, Joanne, I agree completely. NOTHING is for everybody, nor should it be.

  5. About 2/3 of the college students in this country shouldn’t be in college at all (they should be in vocational schools – like Police Academies, etc.) – and about 2/3 of the colleges themselves shouldn’t even exist, either. (It’s been estimated that 75% of all colleges that exist now won’t exist by 2030.)