What happens when everyone attends college

Liam Julian

Mike just passed along to me the June Atlantic (not yet available online), in which one finds an article titled "In the Basement of the Ivory Tower." It is a poignant piece, written by an adjunct professor whose night classes contain all those that society deems ready for college--who must go to college--but are in reality far from it. The author (the anonymous "Professor X") writes, "They are not ready for high school, some of them, much less for college."

And so, it becomes the adjunct professor's responsibility to clean up for society's destructive romanticism. Does he lower standards or hand out multiple Fs? The professor in question takes the latter route, but he doesn't sleep well because of it. His students, many of whom cannot construct a coherent sentence, are confused by the poor grades they receive. Haven't they done everything right, haven't they fulfilled society's expectations and returned to school to better themselves? It may not occur to many of them that society's expectations are unrealistic, its hopes based on fiction, and that they have been set up for failure.

It's a piece well worth reading, because the human cost of the "all kids to college" push is seldom discussed.

Photo by Flickr user partsnpieces.

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