Is College Really a Good Idea For Your Kid?

With high school in the rear view mirror, many young adults will be off to college in a matter of a few months.  Applications have been submitted, accepted and a new class of young adults will begin their collegiate careers.  Some have parents who will foot the bill for their kids' education while others will find themselves taking out student loans in order to pay for the higher learning.  

But does college make sense?  For some, yes.  Want to be a surgeon? Attorney? Engineer?  Then college is a necessity.  But according to the Department of Education roughly half of the students who began four year degree programs in 2006 will fail to get their degrees within 6 years.  Furthermore, 80 percent of kids who graduated in the bottom 25% of their class never get a bachelor's or even a two year associates degree.  

The reality is that college degrees aren't necessary for many jobs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics there are 30 jobs projected to have the fastest rate of growth over the next 10 years.  Only seven require college degrees.  Jobs like customer service representatives, store clerks and home health aides are expected to be hot in the next decade, and none requires a college degree.  So what about the kids who need a practical alternative to the University system?  That would seem to account for many, if not most of the kids who are graduating this year. 

The idea is not to lower standards and expectations, but to provide an option to the time and tuition it takes to get a degree.  Why spend all that time and money for a piece of paper you might never need?  Vocational programs represent opportunities for those students who want to get a foothold on a promising job in a growing sector.  Opportunities many young adults should consider. 

This all comes as California junior colleges are in line to get a big financial boost from Washington.  The Obama Administraiton says it wants to pour $2-billion dollars into junior colleges, so they can take the lead in re-training workers for the ever-changing employment landscape.  

American University Professor Robert Lerman makes a good point.  "Some high school graduates would be better served by being taught how to behave and communicate in the workplace".  They might want to start with the classic read, "All I really need to know I learned in Kindergarten".


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