This is an important but largely neglected issue. We see thousands of
students spend thousands of dollars and an important part of their lives
in the effort to become something for which they are not well-suited. The
myth that "you can do anything if you want to do it badly enough" is so
firmly implanted in our educational culture that there are many who
actually believe it. But if you look at the numbers, you cannot.

A complementary problem that was not mentioned in the summary: The
assumption that "everyone should be able to attend college" becomes,
insidiously, "everyone should have a college degree." That is a grave
injustice to the myriads of people whose talents lie elsewhere. It leads
to the attitude that one is unworthy unless one attends college.

Our big problem is that our society has not developed an equally-valued
path for the development of other talents. Trade schools are unfairly
thought of as repositories for those who can't qualify for an academic
path. When I interview a prospective student who pretty clearly does not
have everything it takes to get a degree, am I not hypocritical if I
encourage them to spend a few thousand dollars and a couple of years of
their life to discover it? But what good alternative recommendation can I
make? It is a matter of much concern to me.

There is much to be said for this opinion. I hope this thread continues.

John M. Flanigan <[log in to unmask]>   The equation is the final arbiter.
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4303 Diamond Head Road                History is the final arbiter.
Honolulu HI  96816                                  --Edward Gibbon
(808) 734-9371                        Nature is the final arbiter.
                                                    --Barry Commoner

On Mon, 14 Aug 2000, Norman Stahl wrote:

> >
> >A glance at the summer issue of "American Outlook":
> >Too many people go to college
> >
> >The swelling number of college-bound high-school seniors does
> >"serious damage to industry, students, and higher education
> >itself," writes William R. Beaver, a professor of social science
> >at Robert Morris College.  Enrollment rates have risen
> >phenomenally over the past century, writes Mr. Beaver, with 70
> >percent of all high-school graduates going on to college. And
> >while increased college attendance seems a safe goal to
> >politicians, he disagrees that it's for the best. As the last of
> >the baby boomers entered college in the 1980's, institutions
> >became fearful of not filling their classes, Mr. Beaver says,
> >and responded with massive publicity campaigns, lower standards,
> >and scholarships -- all to attract "less-qualified students."
> >Many of those students couldn't handle the work, he maintains,
> >so colleges introduced remedial courses and began inflating
> >grades.  The result: "Higher education became less of a haven
> >for the elite and the academically qualified and more of an
> >expected destination for almost everyone." That change has had a
> >"detrimental impact on industry," writes Mr. Beaver, who quotes
> >a corporate recruiter noting the shortage of skilled workers.
> >Mr. Beaver writes that parents and high-school guidance
> >counselors just can't get over the notion that a college degree
> >is the way to success, and, therefore, often encourage students
> >-- who actually might find higher pay scales as skilled
> >industrial workers -- to go to college. Such students waste
> >time, he says, and hurt academe. Mr. Beaver warns: "For a
> >college education to have meaning, it must be distinctive and
> >limited to those with the ability and motivation to pursue it."
> >The article is not available online, but more information about
> >the magazine may be found at
> >
> >_________________________________________________________________
> >
> >_________________________________________________________________
> >
> Norman A. Stahl
> Professor and Chair
> Literacy Education
> GH 223
> Northern Illinois University
> DeKalb, IL 60115
> Phone: (815) 753-9032
> FAX:   (815) 753-8563
> [log in to unmask]