Storming the Castle

Imagine a castle with very high ramparts. Ramparts that grow higher every day. In the castle are suburban homes, good schools, doctors for sick children, 401K plans to protect the elderly. On the vast fields surrounding the castle are McDonalds jobs, over priced health clinics, crumbling schools with exhausted and poorly trained teachers.

There’s a siege. Commanders, with good intensions and few resources, are sending their soldiers against the walls. Some march to their doom. Others are flung on catapults or try to scale the walls with ladders. A few make it over the walls, but the majority lay dead on the field.

Right now, the best chance that most kids have to achieve that American Dream is to finish college and earn a BA. The statistics are clear. People with a college degree have greater lifetime earnings and more opportunities for good jobs than those who don’t have that degree. Workers without a college degree have been displaced by technology and global markets.

By now, all know that. So, education leaders and activists have told students that they must attend college. Students have been given sermons and lectures that they can do it. They’ve been empowered and enlightened. But they haven’t been given the weapons and tools to make it through the battle. The dropout rate is huge, particular for low income, poor students.

Because to get through college degree requires years of training. Students need hard skills — math facts, essay composition, knowledge of science and history — but most can’t pass basic standardized tests for math or reading. They need soft skills – how to organize tasks, study independently, plan for the future. They need to understand the complicated bureaucratic structures of colleges and other college hacks — where do you go when you financial aid check doesn’t come in, how do you create a balanced course schedule, what’s a bursor’s office.

Meanwhile, it’s much harder to finish college these days. Standards are higher, particularly for the STEM classes. A student with a simple college prep high school class in biology will sit in a lecture hall next to a student who took honors biology in his Freshman year of high school, took AP biology in his senior year, studied with a tutor for the Biology SATs, and may have attended a STEM camp at the local community college. They will be given the same final exam, and the kid with all that experience will set the curve. The regular student has no chance.

And students are further away from adults – adults with full time positions – than ever before. They are hurded into massive state colleges with tens of thousands of students. They attend lectures with hundreds of students, where the only person who can answer questions is a temporary worker who has no incentive to answer emails and is struggling financially herself.

The bureaucracies at these schools are Kafkaesque, unable to handle glitches in the system. The glitches are kids, who fail out of that biology class, who have trouble paying a bill, who can’t find those majors that shelter the less educated students.

The bodycounts are high. 84 percent of low income kids drop out of college. They stagger away from the schools, depressed and battered. They blame themselves, their families, and their communities for not preparing them. They are saddled with debt and no degree. They come back home and tell others to stay away. We have to wonder whether it was fair to send them to the battle with so little preparation. We have to assume some of the guilt for the wreckage.

And we have to work to change the system. K-12 schools need to prepare al kids for college in all ways from the hard skills to knowledge of the job markets to the basic college hacks. But without a major infusion of cash, that isn’t going to happen. In some states, there is 1 guidance counselor for every 700 kids. [edited] Test scores haven’t budged in decades.

Some say that the solution is for kids to bypass high schools and start sending kids to the local community college for high school classes (a growing trend). Others say that we need to boost community colleges and technical schools that can prepare kids for real jobs that don’t require a BA. Some high school charter schools are now following students into college to support them.

The conversation is starting to go beyond “free college” and “abolish student loans,” because it’s becoming clear that money, or the lack thereof, is only one small problem in this system. Political leaders haven’t caught up yet. It’s the job of writers and thought leaders to get them up to speed and to do something about the walking wounded, the students who have been chewed up by the system.

42 thoughts on “Storming the Castle

  1. I think America just collectively decided to make it so that the American dream is off limits to half the population (by shrinking the progressive taxation used when it was far easier to get into the middle class) and to use schools as the scapegoat (because they are bound to fail most kids so there will be a reason to cut property taxes).

    Like

  2. “Some say that the solution is for kids to bypass high schools and start sending kids to the local community college for high school classes (a growing trend). Others say that we need to boost community colleges and technical schools that can prepare kids for real jobs that don’t require a BA. Some high school charter schools are now following students into college to support them.”
    I can’t imagine that the solution is for fifteen year olds to be in community college classes with adults – they are barely mature enough to function within the guardrails put in place by the (generally benign) authorities in the high schools. Give them no-mandatory-attendance open campus environment, you are looking at lost years for sure.

    Like

    1. ds said, “I can’t imagine that the solution is for fifteen year olds to be in community college classes with adults – they are barely mature enough to function within the guardrails put in place by the (generally benign) authorities in the high schools. Give them no-mandatory-attendance open campus environment, you are looking at lost years for sure.”

      Yeah.

      I’ll add that one of my relatives who teaches at a community college in WA (which has had Running Start for a long time) is EXTREMELY unenthusiastic about Running Start. The entry standards just aren’t high enough.

      Like

  3. The high school students are filling my online composition classes. They’re often the better prepared students since they have to place into college level courses. (I teach a co-req of pre-college level and college level together).

    Like

  4. Laura wrote, “A student with a simple college prep high school class in biology will sit in a lecture hall next to a student who took honors biology in his Freshman year of high school, took AP biology in his senior year, studied with a tutor for the Biology SATs, and may have attended a STEM camp at the local community college.”

    Why is the second kid in the same class? Why hasn’t he or she placed into a higher course?

    Of course, that implies a further level of inequality–some kids are able to start college doing higher level work, so they will spend less time at college and/or get more out of it. For example, my oldest got a 5 on her AP Latin test. She will get credit for one course and (if I’m reading this correctly) place out of three courses and move on to the next level beyond that.

    “Some say that the solution is for kids to bypass high schools and start sending kids to the local community college for high school classes (a growing trend).”

    A few thoughts:

    –That just means that the kids encounter the problematic college situation you described at a younger age.
    –Our local fancy suburban high school has community college teachers come and teach their courses at the high school.)
    –ADHD kids have astonishingly low college completion rates. The number I’ve seen is 5%, although I have a hard time believing it myself.

    Like

    1. “Why is the second kid in the same class? Why hasn’t he or she placed into a higher course?”

      Usually you need a 4 or 5 on the AP exam to place out of the course at the college level.

      Like

    2. I agree. Coming from Exeter with a bunch of AP’s, I didn’t start in freshman math or English or Latin. Why is that happening at the college Laura describes? I suppose the well-prepared student could be trying to game the system to get an easy A, but I don’t think that’s common enough behavior to alter the grading curve in the average freshman course.

      Like

      1. A lot of schools either don’t prepare the students for the AP test well or the students find that they actually need to take the semester/quarter of class they thought they could skip. This happened to my sister in chemistry. As she put it, she was over prepared for 101 but underprepared for 102. She was lucky in that her program allowed her to take the class. Apparently that’s not so easy to do in these days of crowded universities – take a class you already have credit for.

        Like

      2. Marianne said, “A lot of schools either don’t prepare the students for the AP test well or the students find that they actually need to take the semester/quarter of class they thought they could skip. This happened to my sister in chemistry. As she put it, she was over prepared for 101 but underprepared for 102. She was lucky in that her program allowed her to take the class. Apparently that’s not so easy to do in these days of crowded universities – take a class you already have credit for.”

        I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how much AP credit our local college offers. It’s mainly calculus, science, history, and foreign languages. There are about 10 courses where they give credit for 3s. They also offer non-AP options for getting credit (CLEP, IB, SAT subject exams, etc.). This varies, though, depending on major. Some of the lower science AP scores may cover a general requirement but not, say, the course that is required for actual science majors.

        Like

      3. We seem to have switched from one problem to its opposite. If the student’s high school AP course was of such poor quality that the student isn’t prepared for sophomore English/Multivariable Calc/Catullus & Horace, then he or she is only getting a very modest leg up on the other students, and there isn’t any significant unfairness in the situation.

        Like

  5. Students have been given sermons and lectures that they can do it.

    This is, perhaps, part of the problem. When I went to my fairly upscale suburban high school in the late 80s, 40% of the graduates went to a four year college and 20% went to a two year college. This was considered a reasonable result for our demographic but for the same suburban school would be considered an abject failure today. And, yet, the students haven’t changed. The propriety of college as a destination for some of them haven’t changed.

    But the important point here is that for the college placement track, the curriculum was strictly aligned with the University of California admissions standards and, *more important* the expectations that the University was going to have of its students. A big part of my education was having my confidence repeatedly torn down. “This (paper/lab report/whatever) may be fine for high school, but at UC this will be torn to bits.” And, the teachers were factually correct. I got into all my UCs, but went to an even more rigorous SLAC where this feedback put me in a good position to succeed.

    I contrast this with the confidence-building exercises that go on now, especially geared towards getting people who are wary of college to consider it. “Sure, you are ready for college. You’ll be fine.” But, they are not. This is true not only for poor urban students but also rural students. Frequently their hapless teachers don’t even know what they are doing. “You are one of the best students I’ve ever taught. You should definitely go to college.” Which may be factually true, but these students would still be in the 30th percentile in the college prep track at a good high school. When I was in my big-10 PhD program and teaching kids from rural Appalachia, I would get a bunch of bewildered “I don’t understand why I am failing. I *had* calculus in high school and did fine.” No, no you didn’t. You had a course called calculus that was watered down by some do-gooder teacher who didn’t want to break it to you that college was going to be a struggle…

    Like

    1. I agree that we shouldn’t be telling kids their essay is good when it isn’t. But, I also think that people (including teachers) are actually really bad at evaluating the talent of kids. I was told by the school counselor I shouldn’t bother with the college track in junior high as high I clearly couldn’t do math. This, I think was mostly based on prejudice since I did have good grades and I eventually was graduated from college with a 4.0 and went on to get a PhD in a heavily mathematical field. I’m a rarity where I work because I don’t have an ivy league degree.

      I’ve also been reading rock and roll biographies. They mostly follow a template – event or thing that turned them on to music, they were told they had no talent, they succeeded. For example, Billy Idol was told he couldn’t even tune his guitar, Bruce Dickinson was told he couldn’t sing (!) and Steve Lukather’s parents were told not waste their money on guitar lessons for him as he obviously had no talent (!).

      I actually think the ability for any one to go to college is one of the good features of the U.S. system. Kids are not completely tracked and their future set as firmly as it is in, for example, Germany where you are either on the college track or you are not and there is almost no chance to switch. I would rather allow people to try and fail than give people like my junior high counselor the power to decide. He was a mean little man who should not have been allowed to have power over teenagers and the idea that we can ever prevent such people from getting such positions is naive in the extreme. Let’s just limit their ability to do harm.

      Like

  6. But college standards have NOT gotten higher; they have gotten far lower in the main, especially at CC’s and at directional state U’s and many private colleges. We are directing kids into college who did not love high school and may have already been somewhat school-resistant.

    Even in the upper quintile of income, only 60% of kids complete a 4-year degree. They went to the “good” high schools, but were not engaged enough to plow thru college. There is just an upper limit (not sure what that would be) of students who will go that route successfully, even with good high schools and supportive parents. And a much lower upper limit for kids with less social capital.

    If we can’t prepare kids for good jobs in high school, then we have to have some form of post-secondary education that meets the needs of those kids who feel done with classroom learning at 18.
    They might develop a taste for it later on, but at 18 you can see the lack of enthusiasm quite clearly.

    To my mind, the main beneficiaries of the “college for all” attitude is the IHE’s themselves — jobs for teachers and administrators, income for institutions.

    Like

    1. I completely agree with EB. Insisting on college for all is just poisonous. I just don’t want to give the power to decide if someone could go to high school teachers and administrators.

      Like

      1. HS guidance counselors should present all alternatives, and should be honest with students (not in 8th grade, but as HS seniors) as to how well students with their academic profile have fared in higher education (and the military, and the trades, which do not accept people without math skills). The problem is that currently, most high schools are judged by how many graduates enroll in college (any college at all) rather than by how many go on to actually graduate from college. And they do not consider employment or apprenticeship or any other viable life choice. Only college enrollment.

        Like

      2. Here’s the real problem… There are not enough HS guidance counselors. And no guidance counselor has any real training about higher eduction advisement. They learn all that on the job.

        Yes, about not enough help and encouragement to look at alternatives to college. I wrote about it… https://www.the74million.org/article/too-few-guidance-counselors-too-little-information-why-community-college-might-be-the-best-path-for-high-school-graduates-but-theyll-never-know-it/

        Like

      3. EB said, “HS guidance counselors should present all alternatives, and should be honest with students (not in 8th grade, but as HS seniors) as to how well students with their academic profile have fared in higher education (and the military, and the trades, which do not accept people without math skills).”

        Also, a real course on business math/entrepreneurship would be helpful to many kids, both college and non-college.

        Like

    2. EB said, “They might develop a taste for it later on, but at 18 you can see the lack of enthusiasm quite clearly.”

      A lot of guys make a total hash of high school, go into the military, and come out a few years later ready and able to do college (and of course funded to do so). The same person that it would be like setting fire to the money to send to college at 18 might be a very fine student at 22.

      Like

  7. Some general comments:

    1. AP classes don’t usually count for a major, particularly for highly competitive majors at selective institutions.

    2. Yes, college is hard for everyone. While the dropout rate for low income kids is truly horrific, there are high numbers of middle class, and even upper class, kids who aren’t graduating from college.

    3. Yes, we need alternatives. And Gen Z kids are demanding that, as some recent polls show. But those programs are in their infancy. They still need a lot of work.

    Like

  8. Jay said, “And, yet, the students haven’t changed. The propriety of college as a destination for some of them haven’t changed.”

    …and college didn’t change that much, either.

    It didn’t magically turn into high school, where your parents are sent your grades and will be informed if you cut a bunch of classes and and where you’re a minor child that adults are obligated to feed, clothe and house.

    “I contrast this with the confidence-building exercises that go on now, especially geared towards getting people who are wary of college to consider it. “Sure, you are ready for college. You’ll be fine.” But, they are not. This is true not only for poor urban students but also rural students. Frequently their hapless teachers don’t even know what they are doing. “You are one of the best students I’ve ever taught. You should definitely go to college.” Which may be factually true, but these students would still be in the 30th percentile in the college prep track at a good high school. When I was in my big-10 PhD program and teaching kids from rural Appalachia, I would get a bunch of bewildered “I don’t understand why I am failing. I *had* calculus in high school and did fine.” No, no you didn’t. You had a course called calculus that was watered down by some do-gooder teacher who didn’t want to break it to you that college was going to be a struggle…”

    Ouch! I went to one of those rural schools. I believe that the calculus course (and the school was lucky to have it at all) contained 4 students in a good year–about 95% of the seniors were not taking it. Furthermore, the school was making noises about cancelling it. Even back in 1991, I was aware (even with nobody telling me so), that the door to college engineering was locked and bolted. Not that I wanted to be an engineer very much, but even at the time, I understood that it wasn’t a realistic option given my high school science background. One of my classmates there wanted to work for NASA and was on fire to get there–had gone to Space Camp, was eager to go to Purdue engineering, etc. I don’t know how that turned out for her, but I can’t even imagine how many years of extra work she would have needed just to get to the starting line for that…

    I wish I could take you all in a time machine to my 11th grade physics class where we spent a lot of time fooling around with mousetrap cars or listening to our teacher talking about the local political campaign she was running…Years later, I discovered that my kids were doing more in their 4th grade physics class than I had that year.

    I don’t think that in the case of my school that this was “confidence building.” I suspect that my 11th grade physics teacher (who almost certainly had never had a college physics course of any kind) didn’t know any better.

    Solid K-12 makes an enormous difference with regard to what you are prepared to tackle in college,

    Like

    1. Also, for obvious reasons, 4-year college is going to be more expensive for rural kids (and others) who don’t have the option of being commuter students.

      All of the 4-year colleges I know of in my state are a 4-hour one-way drive from my home town. They’ve since created a bigger satellite community college campus in my home town, but when I was a teen, there were only a couple of community college courses offered in town. The community college main campus was (and is) 90+ minutes away by car one-way.

      Meanwhile, my kids will be able to live at home and walk to college classes.

      Like

      1. Living at home for college is really only going to appeal to a narrow set of kids. My parents moved to Lincoln after I was in college there, but before my sisters started. The move probably increased college costs for my sisters because living in a different city from my parents was essential and nothing of quality was as cheap as INL.

        Like

      2. MH said, “Living at home for college is really only going to appeal to a narrow set of kids.”

        Appeal or not appeal–it doesn’t matter if that’s what you can afford. Also, I suspect that given stats saying that 1/3 of young adults 18-34-year-olds are living at home, the bulk of college students today are living at home.

        https://www.census.gov/library/stories/2017/08/young-adults.html

        I did the math on this, and the difference between freshman year at home and freshman year in the dorm at Hometown U. is about $11k. Hometown U. has a $5k-$6k mandatory meal plan for freshmen dorm kids and freshmen are required to live either in the dorm or with family in the county.

        As I’ve told our big kids, we can afford exactly one (1.00) year of dorm living for each of them with our level of college savings. If they want more, they’ll need to pay for it themselves.

        Like

      3. As I said, I am also reading Chambliss’s book on how college works. Clearly, the model Chambliss describes, which is one of personal growth and future opportunities at a liberal arts college is not the earn a credential model in a large state college while living at home. So it would be wrong to apply his model to one that is entirely premised on a different goal. But, Chambliss describes Hamilton as being a place where people find other people (including peers and teachers) and whose life course is determined by those interactions, not by the formal classes and programs offered at the school. He introduces the book with the statement that the building of those social relationships is a pre-requisite for the learning that occurs at the college.

        I think we need another book, maybe based on UT Austin (which is my current model for a school that is more successfully than others serving a broader population), that talks about how a major state university works (and, works, here means works when it works well).

        Like

      4. Of the six cousins I’ve seen think about the college path, the live at home, go to college to earn a credential, model was a good fit for only one. Money was found to make other choices possible for the others. None of the choices have been bad economically — the money was there.

        Clearly not everyone falls in this category, of money not limiting choices, significantly. That’s part of the problem, though, for those trying to breach the gates. Some are getting a different model of education, one that significantly changes their horizons and social groups, more tiers in the educational system. Certainly the student who can afford to earn the content from a program at a strong university while living at home to conserve costs is doing better than one who catapults to the ramparts and dies, but others are being offered even more opportunities (economically, potentially, but also personally).

        Like

      5. I’m not quite as much of a hard-case on non-home living as I sound.

        Our senior and I stayed a week at an unrenovated dorm this summer (NDSU for Junior Classical League nationals) and more recently husband and I explained dorm amenities to her and how they compare to her unshared-room-and-personal-bath at home. She was so dismayed that we couldn’t even talk her into doing the dorm tour at Hometown U.

        I don’t know what our current 9th grader’s views are, although he seems likely to want to live some place with his 6 closest friends. (A mom at school was talking about her college freshman son who is living with 3+ classmates, and how they immediately put together a cutting edge TV/media/gaming setup by pooling their resources.)

        I’m actually a big fan of the dorm in terms of socializing and meeting people and I got a lot out of it, but sometimes you can’t afford all the nice things.

        Like

      6. bj said, “Certainly the student who can afford to earn the content from a program at a strong university while living at home to conserve costs is doing better than one who catapults to the ramparts and dies, but others are being offered even more opportunities (economically, potentially, but also personally).”

        I want to note here that one of the things that away-from-home college offers (even to those who fail academically) is the possibility of being able to escape abusive or unpleasant home situations.

        There are no get-out-of-bad-home-situation scholarship or loan system that I know of. So how else is an 18-year-old with a limited support system supposed to get a reasonably safe, pleasant place to live?

        What may look from the outside like failure (kid didn’t graduate college and has student loans) may be just making the best of a bad situation.

        The military offers something similar, but with both higher risks and higher rewards.

        Here’s an unpleasant fact that I have learned from online discussions: kids under 18 typically don’t have any legal right to their earnings or savings (so parents can take them away) BUT the minute the kid turns 18, they become legally responsible for their own support. This is really, really bad, because there’s potentially no safe onramp to independent adulthood from a bad home situation, even if the kid is working.

        Like

      7. In Nebraska, you aren’t an adult in you’re 19. At least you weren’t in 1989. I couldn’t sign myself out of the hospital after a car accident that happened when I was in college. I wasn’t trying to sign myself out against medical advice. They said I was fine, but couldn’t leave without parental permission.

        Like

  9. This problem is only going to get worse as colleges scramble for enrollments. I see it at my institution now – I am giving some of the easiest exams I have ever made, and a significant portion of my students are failing them. Meanwhile, the better students in class are breezing through. One of my under-prepared students asked me what the words urban/rural meant because s/he had never seen those words before.

    I am beyond angry about this – we are taking these students’ money (or loan money), and they aren’t ready for college, so they’re not going to make it. That’s not right. One of the solutions for this is intensive programs with lots of hands on advising and teaching, but those programs cost money–money these institutions can’t afford because they’re scrambling for students.

    Like

    1. One of the reasons why I can’t get behind the “free college” plans, especially if they are then paired with living expenses. I would rather straight out give that money to HS graduates (or have a range of options to chose from). The military, for example, is the right choice for some. And, we need to stop using college as a requirement when it needn’t be and raise standard of life outside those ramparts.

      Many who teach will say that college just doesn’t seem right for everyone. Some of the educators are wrong about some of the students — maybe, there’s a mismatch and a lack of knowledge about how to teach a different population. But, some kids really don’t want to go to college. That includes some of the ones who are fully academically able. My kiddo asked recently, and I realized that 5/37 of the kids in my older kiddo’s class are not in traditional college in their first year out of HS. These are extremely smart (and economically privileged) kids whose parents can support them in a range of options.

      Like

    2. I am at a similar institution and I agree completely. The people who are in favor of open admission and free college need to look more seriously at this issue.

      Colleges can and do dumb down certain programs and transform them the kind of certificate programs you’d see in trade school and and CCs, which are often like on the job training. (Our criminal justice/law enforcement program is like this – but you do not need a college degree to become a cop.) This might get people out the door with a degree, and into a first job, but if they’re never going to read, write, or do math at a college level, whatever education you get isn’t going to be worth much. I can’t imagine it will be the kind that translates into better jobs in the long run. So you probably should have gone to CC or trade school in the first place. Or, better yet, your high school should have taught you how to read, write, and do basic math. (But I don’t want to blame them – I know great hs teachers and that’s no picnic either.)

      Like

  10. As I’ve mentioned a repeated comments hear, I just finished reading Paul Tough’s book. Amy’s description, of the “door to engineering being locked” because of math education is one he discusses at length. His model is the case study of a hispanic woman, admitted to UT Austin through UT’s “10%” plan (i.e. she was in the top 7% of her graduating class at a school where few go on to college). He walks through her struggles in her calculus class and ends with a feel good ending and the steps that got her there, Uri Triesman’s calculus intervention plan.

    Triesman is a fascinating story, a kid who tried to teach himself Modern Algebra in middle school, after not making the cut for the gifted program, which derailed him from the college track, in lowr middle class New York City . He found his way back to math while sitting on a power mower and listening to a math class at UC Berkeley. And found his career trying to figure out how to teach math to people who hadn’t “got” it, including undeserved populations. Practically, the method involved supporting them while they worked through hard problems by themselves (or in small groups), through the discomfort of not understanding. He argues that the method now commonly used in high schools, to provide the algorithms to pass the calculus AP leaves many students with a fundamental lack of knowledge of the principles of calculus (delta epsilon proofs were mentioned, as something that doesn’t appear in modern classes).

    Of course, the solution can’t be quite so simple and feel good, or we would have accomplished it (kind of like infomercials for ginsu knives — if they were so great we’d all have them, and no infomercials would be necessary).

    Like

  11. Can’t agree more completely with Tulip’s comment that no one should be judge at 16 in a way that determines their permanent access to college learning. We are simply not good enough at evaluating talent (none of us — I don’t know if HS counselors are worse, but they are not good enough to depend on them). Any remnant of feeling otherwise is simply selective memory and a complete disregard of both false positives and false negatives (i.e. the sons of the elite who make it through college regardless of their ability and the millions we never hear from because they were never given an opportunity, the Shakespeare’s sisters).

    Like

    1. I’m glad that no-one can actually prevent a US high school grad from enrolling college, no matter what their academic profile looks like. All community colleges, and many 4-years, are open admission, and that is the way we like it. But there is a large swath of students who are under-prepared AND they don’t actually feel any enthusiasm for college. Together, these 2 traits argue for something other than an existence of full-time college enrollment at 18.

      Like

  12. As we’ve discussed before, another wrinkle is that people without good resources not infrequently use student loans as a kind of DIY welfare program if they wind up in a tough patch. While student loans are harder to get out of than normal consumer loans, the interest is much better than normal consumer loans (pay day lender, credit card, etc.) that would otherwise be available to them and there’s no need to start paying payments right away as with a normal loan, which makes it doubly attractive. Furthermore, it’s not uncommon for lower income people or people in a financial tight spot to live off a kid’s student loans, with or without the kid’s knowledge. The college kid may have very little idea what loans have been taken out in their name.

    The student loan problem involves at least some factors that have very little at all to do with education per se.

    (There’s a whole shady culture at the bottom of the economic ladder where people use relatives’ names–grandma or the minor children–on household bills when their own credit is exhausted. Taking out student loans in your kid’s name without telling the kid is just a slightly more upmarket version of that practice.)

    Like

  13. Another issue:

    There’s the possibility that non-college job training programs will be just as adept at sucking money out of the federal government as colleges while providing minimal value to students.

    There are a lot of scammy, expensive organizations that do vocational training (see any story on disappointed indebted culinary school graduates) and there have historically been a lot of problems with job retraining in the US:

    https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2018/01/why-is-the-us-so-bad-at-protecting-workers-from-automation/549185/

    Like

  14. Let’s say you’re a high school senior from a small, remote and/or economically depressed area of the US (with or without the difficult or abusive home situation I mentioned earlier).

    Aside from college or the military, there are few ways for a newly fledged high school graduate in the US to get from their current situation to a living situation in a new area with more opportunities. Aside from education, full-time college can provide a) a reasonably safe place to live b) hot meals c) an instant peer group and d) a lot of friendly adult support. This is all very expensive.

    https://onestop.utexas.edu/managing-costs/cost-tuition-rates/cost-of-attendance/

    (UT Austin tuition and books cost about $12k a year and estimated living expenses–room and board, transportation and miscellaneous–are about $16k.)

    A young person might genuinely need help with the transition from being a minor living in their hometown to being an adult in a new location, while at the same time not being interested in or prepared for the college-level education that our culture chooses to bundle with transition help.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s