The college-for-all crusade has outlived its usefulness, opinion writer Robert J. Samuelson has declared.
“Like the crusade to make all Americans homeowners, it’s now doing more harm than good,” Samuelson says. “It looms as the largest mistake in educational policy since World War II.”
To be sure, college became the ticket to the middle class, Samuelson argues. But dropout rates are high. Washington Post financial reporters Ylan Q. Mui and Suzy Khimm recently reported, not surprisingly, that college dropouts are more likely to default on their education loans.
Nearly 30 percent of college students who took out loans dropped out of school, up from fewer than a quarter of students a decade ago, according to a recent analysis of government data by think tank Education Sector.
Many students, including those who graduate, are crippled by debt.
It’s time to stop telling everyone they “need” to go to college, Samuelson believes. I believe he makes some great points.
For example, vocational education is being de-emphasized and disparaged. Apprenticeship programs combining classroom and on-the-job training are sparse, Samuelson said.
“The rap against employment-oriented schooling is that it traps the poor and minorities in low-paying, dead-end jobs,” he wrote. “Actually, an unrealistic expectation of college often traps them into low-paying, dead-end jobs — or no job.”
What do you think? Have we gone too far pushing college as the only path to a good life? Send your responses to firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to include your full name, city and state, and put “College Challenge” in the subject line.
Responses to “Good Money Tips”
Dave Carpenter, personal finance writer for the Associated Press, spoke with mothers who work in the financial industry and asked what pearls of financial wisdom they’re passing on to their children.
So for last week’s Color of Money question, I asked: “What’s the best money tip you got from your mom or pop?”
Avis Allen of Midlothian, Va., says the best money tip she got from her parents was to save 10 percent of what you earn and to tithe 10 percent.
“When I did this with my first job out of college, I saved from a very meager salary enough to pay for a year of grad school,” Allen wrote.
Lloyd Douglas of Greensboro, N.C, said his mother told him, “It’s not how much you make, it’s what you do with it.”
Douglas said, “That encouraged me to learn to manage my resources rather than to think that having more money was the solution to a personal financial problems.”
Allison Kuchta of Pittsburgh wrote: “My parents taught me to save for what you want. I have never known my parents to buy anything that cost more than $100 on impulse. They have a vacation account that they contribute to monthly, and they know roughly how much money they’ll need for their annual trip. They do not go over that amount. They also keep a similar account for Christmas gifts. My brother and I were taught - by example - not to use credit cards to buy what we want if we didn’t have the money, which is probably why at age 30 the only debt I have is student loans.”
“After I finished my first year working full time after college, I went to my dad to proudly show him my income tax return so he could see how much money I made,” Frank Lotrario of Perth Amboy, N.J., recalled. “I expected him to be very proud because my income was over twice as much as he ever earned in one year. He congratulated me, of course, but went on to say, ‘Son, next time don´t show me how much money you made, but how much you saved.’ It was a lesson I never forgot and influenced my attitude about money and spending for the rest of my life.”
Tia Lewis contributed to this report.
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