Magazine | August 28, 2017, Issue


College as Experiment

Oren Cass makes a strong case (“Teaching to the Rest,” July 31) that many of today’s high-school students would be better off taking career training instead of college prep. The reason everyone thinks college is so important is obvious: Higher education is a racket for the Left, providing employment, affirmation for their views, a comfortable, insular environment, and a steady stream of newly indoctrinated progressives, so the media do everything they can to keep pumping up enrollment. This country started on its long decline the day newspapers began expecting reporters to have college degrees.

In view of this, however, rising college-dropout rates may be less alarming than Mr. Cass appears to think. How many students enroll at college, get hit full blast by the pervasive political thought control, and decide to call Dave at the screen-door plant and see if they’re still hiring? Just as we would not condemn a plumbing trainee who wants to give college a try, neither should we automatically chalk up as a failure someone who goes to college and realizes it’s not for him. Teenage career plans last about as long as teenage romances.

The author quotes Charles Murray: “What we need is an educational system that brings children with all combinations of assets and deficits to adulthood having identified things they enjoy doing and having learned how to do them well.” That makes for a fine wish list, but does it perhaps expect too much self-awareness and constancy from kids who find new favorite entertainers, games, and social-media platforms every few months? Of course our children keep upsetting our plans for them—that’s their job. And an inconclusive spell at college is often a useful part of the learning process that Murray describes.

Rick Schaefer

Kent, Wash.

Ohio’s Thrill Engineers

Thank you for Charles C. W. Cooke’s wonderful article about our Cedar Point (“Magnificent Thrill Machines,” August 14). When I was growing up in Toledo, a visit to the Point—only an hour away—was an annual summer tradition. It represents something excellent in America: crazy and uninhibited ingenuity that brings simple joy to all.

It is not ironic, I believe, that close by in Milan (pronounced my-len), a young boy named Thomas Alva Edison grew up, and farther down the road were the Wright Brothers, Neil Armstrong, and John Glenn, to name only a few. Ohio is a place where people stand firmly in the soil yet reach eagerly for the stars.

Cynthia Millen

Toledo, Ohio

NR Editors includes members of the editorial staff of the National Review magazine and website.

In This Issue



Books, Arts & Manners




College as Experiment Oren Cass makes a strong case (“Teaching to the Rest,” July 31) that many of today’s high-school students would be better off taking career training instead of college ...
The Week

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