Skills Gap: Not All Students are the Same

By June 8, 2007General

As noted earlier in this week in this post about the foolishness of channeling all high schoolers into four-year colleges, George Leef of the Pope Center in North Carolina writes frequently about the overselling of higher education. Over at Phi Beta Cons, Leef takes a look at the latest push, i.e., spending proposals, in Michigan, where the VP of the state board of education says “our future as a state economically will be helped by our citizens attaining a higher education.” Perhaps there are other, more important factors determining Michigan’s economic climate, Leef observes. After all, are foreign automakers locating factories in southern states because of their high percentage of college grads? And …

Furthermore, it doesn’t occur to the politicians that college students are not all alike. The really able ones who are most apt to benefit from college coursework are undoubtedly going to attend anyway. Efforts to lure more students in will only attract some marginal ones, and slapping college credentials on more of them isn’t going to give the state any economic boost.

We’ve gone on so long in this country with the assumption that college is in and of itself valuable — since the GI Bill? — that these reminders, which should be self-evident to all but those with a vested interest in higher-ed budgets, are actually necessary. This is not a knock on higher ed, but a call for appreciating the alternatives, vocational education included.

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