Monday, November 17, 2008

College is not for everyone and not going to college is not a sign of failure

A comment I posted on in response to an article further condemning our elementary, middle and high schools because all of those students who finished with their secondary education and moved on to college did not necessarily get a degree. I maintain that a college degree or a high school diploma are not, in themselves, measures of success. Instead, it is the student who is evidence of success or failure in how she feels about her life, what her goals are and how prepared and realistic she is to meet and exceed those goals.

College has been touted for years as the be all and end all for students. Those who do not go are considered losers or not worthy.

The truth is college is NOT for everyone. The fact that every student who attends college does not complete college is not a sign of a failing school system, except in the fact that that system pushed and pushed and pushed students towards college when those students were feeling pulled in another direction.

The fact that Bill Gates did not finish college is not a poor reflection on his high school but a reflection of Bill Gates, he knew what he wanted, he knew how to get it and he did. That is how we should look at our students. No, they will not all become the next Bill Gates, but they probably wouldn't be the next Bill Gates if they finished college either. College is a hugely expensive investment that is not for everyone and leaves many (graduates and non-graduates alike) with nothing but a huge mountain of debt.

You can be successful without college and it's time we stopped pushing it so much to everyone. Now, it is not for the teachers, administrators, parents, etc to make that decision but if a child feels she should go to college (or wants to) and is able, she should. If she feels like college isn't for her and she has other plans, she should be able to make that decision. What's the point of thousands, tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars spent or debt incurred if all along the student knew she wanted to be a fire fighter, or a hairdresser, or something else? Or she didn't know WHAT she wanted to be but went and dutifully got her degree only having to re-do it later when her true passions emerged?

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