Stop pretending college is for everyone

“College for all” sets low achievers up for “almost certain failure,” argues Fordham’s Mike Petrilli. “High-quality career and technical education” would enable some to succeed.

But if students aren’t “college material,” will they be “blue-collar material?”

Is college worth it for C students? Check out Robert VerBruggen’s graph of ability, education and income.

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  1. Michael E. Lopez says:


    If these students of which you speak emerge from high school unable to provide a basic metaphor and imagery analysis on Shakespeare, then they won’t be college material. If they can’t do a basic geometric proof, then they won’t be college material. (I say this with some confidence, and intend it as an indictment of high school curricula which do away with proofs.)

    If they emerge from high school unable to read Beverly Cleary, on the other hand, or unable to add two three-digit numbers successfully, then the scope of what kind of “material” they will be is significantly narrowed.

    I suppose it’s possible that a child might receive such an “education” as to not be any sort of useful material. Human children — helpless, weak, mewling, and essentially immobile — are from birth “food material” for coyotes, wolves, bobcats, mountain lions, alligators, and the odd bird of prey if they aren’t raised otherwise.

    Any push from this state requires work and effort by older humans looking after the child’s welfare. An emerging student, a proto-adult, an “adolescent” leaving high school by dint of having performed certain bureaucratically ordained tasks, will be whatever sort of “material” that child has been fashioned into, and little more.

    So, like I said… it depends.

  2. Florida resident says:

    Somehow the title of the post reminds me
    the song (quite nice one, by the way)
    from the advertisement for Toyota:
    Prius for everyone !”
    With traditional (albeit sincere) fascination of the job
    done by heroic Ms. Jacobs,

  3. Richard Aubrey says:

    Worth differentiating the craft/skilled trade from assembly/production work. The latter is sometimes referred to as “grey collar:” work. The former is not for dummies. The latter…Henry Ford lamented that people are attached to his factory “hands”.
    It’s possible to do “pink collar” work without college, but a reasonable amount of literacy in the sense of spelling and grammar is necessary.