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Is it Time to Stop Pushing the “College-for-All” Mantra?

Would today’s students be better off if we provided and encouraged more hands-on training program options?
1 min

In Forbes today, columnist Erik Sherman addresses a common mistake that politicians and the public make about education. All too often, writes Sherman, “we move from ‘education is good’ to ‘education will fix income inequality’ or otherwise charge the economy.”

Because the public has believed such taglines, the push to send every student to college to get a degree has seen a dramatic increase in recent years. And as the push to college has increased, so has student debt. In fact, as a recent Gallup poll noted, 35% of students who graduated in the last 10 years have racked up more than $25,000 in debt.

But student debt isn’t the least of our problems. As Sherman notes, a rational look at the data shows that even if every student went to college and earned a degree, there wouldn’t be enough high-paying jobs to go around to all the college graduates.

Recognizing this problem, Sherman offers a number of alternatives to this problem, one of which is more apprenticeship programs.

Given the high cost of college and the limited number of high paying jobs, would today’s students be better off if we provided and encouraged more hands-on and practical training program options in the United States?

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Annie Holmquist

Annie Holmquist

Annie Holmquist is the editor of Intellectual Takeout. When not writing or editing, she enjoys reading, gardening, and time with family and friends.

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I will repeat what I remarked earlier, given that it applies equally to this opinion by Ms. Holmquist: "A few of us intellectual 'flies' out here were smart enough to refrain from circling excitedly around the steaming pile of fragrant faeces that is the American educational establishment, in that we long-since advocated adoption of the classic European system wherein two complementary educational paths coexist side-by-side: one for the trades and the other for academia. "Simply expressed, early-on in the German system (for example), students undergo testing that determines whether they are qualified for higher (academic) educational training or not. Those that are not suitably inclined (either through natural aptitude or intellectual ability) towards academia are directed to vocational training programs. Thus, in the academic system one may rise to graduate-level intellectual achievements, or, conversely, a trades student may achieve higher levels of skilled vocational training (as in the traditional European artisan and craftsman guilds). The system is, of course, an outgrowth of that same guild system that has existed in Europe for centuries and it has always worked extremely well (generally speaking) in terms of adjusting individual assets & resources to socio-economic needs. Only in America, with its largely racially based 'equality' obsessiveness (read: all children need to go to college), has that far more practical (and equitable) approach to education been shunned."