For some, it's a steppingstone to success, for others, a footpath to failure. Almost everyone has strong feelings about high school, the quintessential teenage American institution. But not many would go so far as Microsoft founder and Chairman Bill Gates, who recently delivered a major speech declaring high school to be "obsolete." Not only does the system fail to prepare our kids for the future, he said, but it shortchanges American society by paving the way to success for the privileged upper third of American teens and leaving the rest, mostly lower-income and minority kids, in the dust. Outlook invited six college students who attended public high schools to assess Gates's remarks in an online forum. Excerpts of their discussion:
DAKARAI AARONS, 21
Senior, University of Nebraska; graduate of DuVal High School in Prince George's County.
NATE BIEHL, 26
Senior, University of Montana; graduate of public high school in Helena, Mont.
NATHAN QAZI, 19
Freshman, Northern Virginia Community College; received his GED after attending Thomas Edison and West Potomac high schools in Fairfax County.
JUSTIN SCHNEIDER, 22
Senior, American University; graduate of Stuyvesant High School in New York City.
RHASHEEMA A. SWEETING, 21
Senior at Howard University; graduate of Woodside High School in Woodside, Calif.
LANA WILSON, 21
Senior at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn.; graduate of Lakeland High School in Kirkland, Wash.