The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday concerns the pressure on older teens and young adults to attend college. I stand by the principle that everyone needs advanced training beyond high school, but I also realize that not everyone is capable of going the college route.
Walter E. Williams, professor of economics at George Mason University, wrote an article on this subject. He gave some statistics in his article that should be considered by prospective college students and their parents.
More than 18 million students attend our more than 4,300 degree-granting institutions….
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, “when considering all first-time undergraduates, studies have found anywhere from 28 percent to 40 percent of students enroll in at least one remedial course. When looking at only community college students, several studies have found remediation rates surpassing 50 percent.”
Only 25 percent of students who took the ACT in 2012 met the test’s readiness benchmarks in all four subjects (English, reading, math, and science). Just 5 percent of black students and 13 percent of Hispanic students met the readiness benchmarks in all four subjects.
The National Conference of State Legislatures report says, “A U.S. Department of Education study found that 58 percent of students who do not require remediation earn a bachelor’s degree, compared to only 17 percent of students enrolled in remedial reading and 27 percent of students enrolled in remedial math.”
The fact of business is that colleges admit a far greater number of students than those who test as being college-ready.
Williams, being the professor that he is, includes many other facts and figures in his article. I would like to know why there are so many students graduating from high school without knowing how to read, write, and do arithmetic. I would like to know why the students needing remedial college classes even want to go to college. I would also like to understand why any student is admitted to college without the capability of doing the academic work required at universities.
The Professor says that high schools are delivering “grossly fraudulent education” when they allow a student to graduate from college when they are not capable of performing at even an eighth- or ninth-grade level.” I personally know a young man who graduated from high school without being able to read a third-grade level book. So, one reason we have students unprepared for college work is because the public school system has failed in their responsibilities to prepare them. Where are the high school counselors, and why are they failing these students?
My next question concerned the motivation of unprepared students even wanting to go to college. If the student was not motivated enough in junior high school and high school to learn the high school subjects, why do they even apply for higher education? Are they reacting to peer pressure? Are all their friends going to college, and they feel left out? Are parents providing this pressure on their unprepared children?
My third question is the motivation of the colleges and universities to admit students who are unprepared. Surely, the low percentage of graduation for students requiring remedial help (17 percent who needed remedial reading and 27 percent who needed remedial math) compared to the percentage of those graduating who needed no remedial assistance (58 percent) tells its own story. Williams cites a “study that more than a third of students showed no improvement in critical thinking skills after four years at a university.” In addition, many employers of those who manage to graduate from college report that their employees are not prepared to enter the work force.
Williams suggests, and I agree, that it is a waste of time, effort, and money for some students to attend college. He says, “The bottom line is that college is not for everyone. There is absolutely no shame in a youngster’s graduating from high school and learning a trade.”
Many people who learn a trade actually earn more money than their friends who have college degrees. I believe that everyone needs a high school diploma that shows that they completed work on a twelfth-grade level, but I do not believe that everyone can or should attend college.