Phi Beta Cons

High School and College

I agree with both George Leef’s Watered Down remarks (that the college degree has become a form of credentialling, more than a sign of real education) and Peter Wood’s Majors for Minors remarks (that rather than encouraging all students to go to college, we should concentrate on giving them a good high-school education). But as long as employers require the college degree, or at least some college credits, and these therefore do correlate with higher income, it seems the universities and colleges have assured themselves of a continuing stream of customers. Perhaps as efforts to improve lower education yield results, the high-school degree will guarantee more capability and employers will see that they do not need to require (and often pay for) expensive college credits.
For all the faults we find in Europe, Europeans are actually better at this than we are, and European high-school education, or what is equivalent there to our high-school education, does impart good skills, solid knowledge, and even career orientation. And university education there is more on the level of what university education should be, partly because they don’t try as we do to send everyone to college. (I also don’t think they bother with all the multiculturalism and separate studies areas that we have.) What started out as a well-intentioned effort to extend access to college to anyone who wanted it, had the unintended consequence of making college a practical necessity, thereby dumbing down both college and high-school curricula. (As Wood remarks, knowing that college admission is almost guaranteed meant that high schools didn’t have to work as hard to prepare students properly.)

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