Phi Beta Cons

The College-Degree Mania in Ohio

Most politicians, Democrats and Republicans alike, think that it’s a serious problem that quite a few students who enroll in college don’t graduate. As this story indicates, that’s the case in Ohio, where Governor Kasich and Jim Petro (head of the state’s higher-ed system) are wringing their hands over fact that only some 56 percent of those who enroll graduate within six years. Kasich is quoted as saying, “Don’t enroll students without being committed to graduating them.”

Sorry, governor, but colleges don’t graduate students. Students graduate themselves if their efforts are sufficient, and the sad fact is that many who enroll are so academically weak and unmotivated that they don’t amass enough course credits to get their degrees within six years. That isn’t the fault of the institutions. Furthermore, someone ought to tell Kasich and Petro that even those who graduate often have learned very little, and that college grads (whether they learned much or little) frequently wind up doing jobs that don’t demand any academic training. The growing realization — helped along by OWS-type protests, populated mainly by unemployed college grads — that college degrees aren’t necessarily a good investment is a sensible reason for many students to drop out. No sense in throwing good money after bad.

As for the proposed “certificate of career readiness,” there is no reason why it needs to be linked to college enrollment.

George Leef — George Leef is the director of research for the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy.

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