The Washington Post

Admissions 101, GOP Primary edition: Are we pushing kids too hard to go to college?

(Eric Gay/AP)

They say the push for college we see in many schools and in the speeches of many policymakers ignores a significant slice of society. College isn’t for everybody.

Should we dial back the pro-college message? I call it the college myth. I think on balance it is a good thing. It unites the country. Everyone from the presidents of the largest corporations to the domestic workers who clean their houses want their kids to go to college. It does put pressure on kids, but that is one of the things parents do to help them grow up.

Getting ready for college these days, many experts have convinced me, is pretty much the same as getting ready for any kind of post-high school endeavor. You need to be able to read, write and do math effectively to get a good job out of high school, or a good trade school slot, just as you need those skills to get into college.

But maybe the way we talk about college sends a distorted message, since we don't talk about those skills, but just about college as the great goal. Should we do this differently?

Jay Mathews is an education columnist and blogger for the Washington Post, his employer for 40 years.


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