College is not the best career path for many unprepared to make that journey.
One of the big appeals to the recent Bernie Sanders’ campaign was the platform plank that wanted to allow everyone to attend college for free, or at least subsidized in some way. The plank was so well-received by the young Democrats that Secretary Clinton began to endorse a version of the idea that a college education is a right that should be provided by the government.
But, far from being a right to be granted by some overseeing form of governing, a college degree is not exactly the right thing for many people. A segment of the nation’s population will not be able to complete the current requirements for a degree, even if the tuition is completely paid, and please don’t attack me for being racist or sexist. There are a large number of citizens of all colors and gender, who would simply be unable to earn the degree, unless the requirements were lowered to allow for such, which would sooner or later be advocated by some.
A college degree is an achievement, much as in the same way as winning Gold at the Olympics, and for some, just as difficult. Some students, though I wish it were not so, have trouble getting out of high school and would struggle mightily trying to continue their education for four more years.
You can debate the reasons behind the failure of some students to grasp the fundamentals of high school teachings, but regardless of the reason, the condition exists.
Early on, Affirmative Action provided a glimpse of the problems with unprepared students going to college, in that poorly prepared black students were admitted to universities to fulfill racial quotas, and either failed out or faced an overwhelming hurdle just trying to catch up with their fellow classmates, who were selected based on high test scores and grade point averages.
The hard truth is that college is not for everyone. And you don’t have to have a college degree to be successful in life or to get a good-paying job. Well-trained technicians are always in high demand, and that is where many of the resources need to be focused.
High schools around the country should begin to offer courses designed to prepare those who are unlikely to attend colleges or universities for work in the industrial fields, instead of the one-size-fits-all approach. Auto mechanics, heating and cooling repair, construction work are all respectable jobs for young people to desire and there is a need across the nation for those types of workers.
Perhaps we should look at an optional extra two years added to the high school curriculum that would only teach advanced technical opportunities, similar to the current trade school set-ups. These programs should focus on the trades suited to their particular area. I would imagine large industries would also be willing to provide grants and monies to the programs, if they would be able to reap the benefits of skilled workers available to them upon graduation. One of the highest costs of most industries is training and re-training a skilled work force.
This would also have the most benefit to the lower-income segment of the population, arguably the ones that most need assistance, and give many a realistic hope of escaping the poverty and despair that has plagued their families for generations.
And it not necessarily has to be confined to the technical aspect, as service industries are always looking for skilled shift managers in restaurants, hotels and motels, and retail. Service management training could also be included for those inclined to work in these areas.
Student loan debt is quite a burden for today’s graduates, but the fact they were willing to work hard to achieve the degree shows they have the discipline necessary to overcome the debt, over a period of time.
A better investment would be to lift the lower-income students out of poverty by assisting them to get good-paying jobs, live in better neighborhoods with better schools that will prepare their children to attend college when the time is right.
If you need evidence that it will work, that is exactly what our parents did back in post-war times. End the cycle of poverty by providing work to young people, and the cost of college will take care of itself.