By Alison Caracciolo | Staff Columnist
It is no secret that with today’s economy and the constant rise to the price of living it has made it increasingly difficult for young adults to acquire a job or career without some form of higher education or skill training.
Society, both economically and politically, has forced the concept of higher education onto youth since the “No Child Left Behind” act has been passed since 2002. States required schools to make students reach a “proficiency level” on state tests by 2013-14. Before these state regulations schools were not instilled by the fear of what could happen if their students state exam was anything less than proficient. If a school were to score below the average yearly progress two consecutive years or more, the state will be forced to intervene by either closing them, making them into charter schools, or taking them over.
According to the Global Issues Blog many teachers and adults believe No Child Left Behind Act encourages students to score well on standardized test, instead of teaching students the primary goal of learning. The teachers, consequently, focus their curriculum around test taking skills, and test limited education.
Professor Robert I. Lerman from American University told the New York Times that high schools, rather than readying all students for college, should focus on the acquisitions of skills appropriate to the workplace.
Lerman wants society to focus an individual’s skills, knowledge or talent rather than conceivably placing everyone in the “college for everyone” category. Policy makers should be focusing less on forcing everyone to attend a four-year college or university and instead help those individuals master a skill or technique through vocational schooling or achieving an associate’s degree.
Policy makers have tunnel vision when it comes to the philosophy of “college for everyone,” where they discard all the other opportunities for success that do not require a bachelor’s degree. The value one places on obtaining a four-year college degree is solely based on the individual’s career aspirations. According to “The Value of a College Degree,” written by Stephen Rose, If one desires to graduate with a bachelor’s degree they most likely want the higher earnings that is associated with the degree. They have been cited to make one million dollars more than those with just a high school diploma.
On the contrary depending on the intended educational goal for a student, that will determine which higher level of educational route the student should be inclined to take. Society places an unspoken idea that if one achieves a college degree they will automatically find work easier. Rose points out that this is not the case, where a share of students end up in jobs that pertain nothing to their studies, and that share increases as unemployment rises. In other words, according to Rose, more students today will graduate with a four-year degree and will be unable to find work in their intended field.
Too often society paints a black mark on those who attend anything less than a four-year college or university. The problem that now arises is the immense amount of over qualified young adults that will be forced to find a low-paying job just to get some money in their pockets to start paying back student loans. Attending college is a very strategic financial decision 17 and 18 year-olds are forced to make. The more it costs to attend a college the less the net benefit will be after you graduate. According to The Brookings Institution, the federal loan debt for students totals one trillion dollars, which is more than the country’s credit card debt and second to our country’s mortgage debt.
With government cutbacks in primary and secondary schooling, the funding for vocational schools has become even less, depriving students that desire hands on training for the working class jobs. According to USA Today, high schools have dropped vocational and technical programs for students over the past 30 years. As a result blue collar jobs have experienced a loss since the recession, where this has resulted in the “hollowing out of the middle.” The way society pushes youth to attend a four-year college is the result of the lack in skilled workers. USA Today continues to state that there will be a rise in these jobs after the baby boomers retire.
The philosophy of “college for everyone,” is merely loaded based upon government opinionated one-sided facts. Having a bachelor’s degree is not the deciding factor to which you have achieved the ultimate level of success, and everything will just come easy from here on out. The bigger picture in life is being completely bypassed. The level of education one desires is wholeheartedly weighted on the value the individual places upon achieving a college four-year degree. Every individual is entitled to their own level of success, and they don’t all have to include a four-year degree.
College is not meant for everyone, but for many, it is what is needed to obtain a credible career. Do not be blinded by the one-sided argument society screams at you, rather view the bigger picture, and realistically determine what will be your best option to maximize the best outcome. There is no black mark on you if obtaining a bachelor’s degree is not in your best interest. Everyone has their own power to define their own success.