Skip college, go votech?

Conventional wisdom says that a college degree equals a better job, higher lifetime earnings, and a happier life. But is college the only way to live the American Dream? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only seven of the thirty fastest-growing jobs in the next decade will require a bachelor’s degree; and among the top ten, only two will. Postal carriers, nurses’ aides, and store clerks could make a much better investment of the time and money spent on a bachelor’s (or associate’s) by, say, taking vocational courses in their chosen profession. And that’s the argument of a few top economists, who allege our obsession with getting more kids into college is really just shoving a one-size-fits-all solution on a problem that merits a diversity of answers. We’re certainly open to that argument—and concerned about the rhetoric that “college is for everyone.” But at a time when only about 30 percent of Americans have a college degree (of either variety), is this really our most pressing education “problem”?  

Plan B: Skip College,” by Jacques Steinberg, New York Times, May 14, 2010

College for All? Experts Say Not Necessarily,” by Alan Scher Zagier (AP), Boston Globe, May 13, 2010

A Lament for the Class of 2010,” by Joe Queenan, Wall Street Journal, May 15, 2010

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