Some aren’t ready for college at 18

Not every 18-year-old is ready for a four-year college, says Jeffrey Selingo, author of College (Un)Bound.  Many “end up in college because we have few maturing alternatives after high school, whether it’s national service, apprenticeships or structured ‘gap year’ experiences.” Well, we’ve got military service, work and community college.

About Joanne


  1. “Well, we’ve got military service, work and community college”

    Military service has a cognitive ability test that limits students who are not ready for college. And while I understand your point about community college, the fact is that cc is expected to be the equivalent of regular college. We should have adult ed.

  2. Ann in L.A. says:

    The real question is why aren’t 18 year olds ready to be adults? Previous generations had no problems assuming adult responsibilities at 18 or even earlier. They were apprentices at young ages, or out getting jobs, wives/husbands, farming their land, raising their kids, building their own housing, crossing the Atlantic in search of new lives, etc. Old novels are filled with kids out in the world at young ages, from “My Side of the Mountain” and “Treasure Island” to “Sign of the Beaver”, “Island of the Blue Dolphins,” “The Boxcar Children,” and the dreaded “Sarah Noble.” (Modern fiction uses the same *kids alone* themes, but it always seems jarring in the modern world.)

    Today, we so infantilize our children that they now have to spend their 20’s figuring out the independence that they should have learned 10 or 15 years earlier.

    Around the world, most childcare is provided by young kids–8, 9 years old. Here, that age isn’t allowed to even look after themselves. We don’t let kids cross the street until they’re practically driving. We don’t let kids stay home alone, when previous generations had “latch-key” kids from first grade or earlier–and sometimes looking after younger sibs. We don’t send them to the store on foot or bike to pick up an onion for dinner. They don’t even get to their friends’ houses by themselves. They don’t walk to school anymore. They don’t go out and play. We rarely make them do chores. They sit with their thumbs texting away while we cook, clean, launder, shovel, mow, and work around them. And we wonder why they aren’t ready to be adults?

    Children used to be viewed as capable and rational, or at least trainable. Today we view the primary function of parents as *protecting* their kids, instead of their primary task being to teach them to be independent. They are so protected that they barely go through teen rebellion anymore. They seem quite content to lay back and be treated like toddlers. And why not? It’s easier than trying to do things for yourself.

    It’s no wonder that our kids are so completely incompetent that they can’t manage to look after themselves inside the cocooned environment of a 4-year residential college–a place where they don’t have to worry about food and housing, but only about getting to class once in a while and figuring out where the next kegger is. If they can’t handle that, we are utterly failing as parents.

    • BadaBing says:

      Don’t forget the insidious effects of smoking weed. It stunts emotional growth. How many mature adults are chronic pot smokers?