Too Stupid For College?
Over at Salon.com (see Diploma with a Side of Fries), Amy Benfer rightly decries an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education, which argues that because of the high cost of 4-year colleges, parents whose children are in the bottom half of their high school classes should think twice about sending them off to get their BA or BS, since those students are more likely to drop out.
This shows exactly what’s wrong with our education/loan system. College is so expensive that for many, the risks may outweigh the rewards. The problem, of course, is that it’s very difficult to predict who will be “successful” and who won’t, and the Chronicle’s advice risks seriously limiting some students’ futures. Should people really be judged for the rest of their lives based on their performance in high school? I agree with Benfer’s assessment:
Let’s face it: The kids at the top of the class include the kids who follow the rules, the kids who go to college because, in their social class, that’s just what you do, a smattering of reckless geniuses and original thinkers, and a bunch of generally smart, motivated kids. In the bottom half, you’ll have the kids who don’t follow the rules, the kids who won’t go to college because in their class that’s just not what you do, a smattering of reckless geniuses and original thinkers who might find high school boring and bureaucratic, and a bunch of kids who genuinely would be much happier getting the hell away from academia and learning any number of trades. But to pretend one can discern those who “deserve” to go to college from those who do not by lopping a whole class of kids off at the center, to borrow a recent political metaphor, is like using a hatchet when what you really need is a scalpel.
Student loans are supposed to open up doors for people, but the cost of education has become so ridiculously high that we’re seeing a backlash and doors are now being closed instead. What’s sad is that the Chronicle article is really meant to offer a solution to the student loan crisis, aimed particularly at students who maybe weren’t meant for college, but started, took out loans, and wound up dropping out. But instead of looking for ways to ensure that making the “mistake” of trying college doesn’t destroy a person’s life, the article suggests trying to cut them off at the pass.
Stop them before they start – college is the new drug, and it’s up to you to just say no. Unless, of course, you have rockin’ SAT scores.