Helping young people get degrees that will lead them to richer, more rewarding lives sounds like a great idea.
Who wouldn’t like it?
Please take just a moment and read this because some very reasonable people are questioning it’s wisdom.
1) There is an increasing body of evidence that people are better students after some work experience. If taxpayer dollars are going to be spent, would a better “bang for the buck” to spend them on a national service program that delivers some kind of measurable service to the economy and gives students an opportunity to focus their goals before heading to college?
2) There are a number of online programs of study now that are affordable and may be a better fit for a student who wants to work part-time. Class schedules at traditional colleges make working while going to school difficult or sometimes impossible, especially for students with learning differences like A.D.D., who may need additional time or help.
3) College students do have a higher probability of getting and keeping a job. But why is that? While the value of a college education for a doctor, lawyer or engineer seems beyond question, should we take a long hard look at where college degrees are really necessary and perhaps provide tax incentives for employers who are willing to hire someone who looks good in person, if not on paper?
4) “There’s nothing wrong with giving the Obama plan a shot” you might say. I fear there may be. Several European economies are currently straining to stay alive under a system of entitlements that their economies simply can not support. I think we have reached a fork in the road (and we have the intellect and imagination available) to critically examine this before saddling our economy with another debt that may be as outmoded as giving Social Security to people at 65, when they now, thankfully, may expect to live another 15 to even 30 years, or more.
Here’s one of my favorite and I think most forward thinking articles on the subject: Why We Won’t Need College in 15 Years . I hope you’ll take 2 minutes to read it and then give me your thoughts.
I’m not suggesting that everyone should go the way of Mark Zuckerberg or Steve Jobs. I think that path is limited, to a few geniuses.
I simply think that all of this deserves some debate and creative thinking – one of the skills I think colleges teach best – before rushing to fund another government program which may be well intentioned but could have questionable results.
What do you think? Please tell me in the comments below.