The 'Yale or Jail' Syndrome:
'College For All' Is a
I feel that society looks on your child as a failure if he or she doesn't get
in to an exclusive college, and graduate from it, too. I mean, if you don't go
to college at all, it's as if people think you might as well start dealing
crack, you're so "doomed." What gives?
course, the "Yale or jail" extremes are ridiculous and hurtful. But it is
important to note that a college degree, and increasingly, an advanced degree,
really do translate to dollars of income in a significant way in our society.
to the study, "Education and Economic Mobility," by Brookings
Institution scholar Ron Haskins, the inflation-adjusted median family income
for adults ages 30-39 with a graduate degree was 80 percent higher in 2006 than
in 1964. For those with a four-year college degree, it was almost 60 percent
higher. But incomes for those with a high-school education or less have
remained virtually unchanged over the same period.
means the gap in real family income between adults with a graduate degree and
those with only a high-school diploma is four times greater today than 40 years
to the study was to show the upward mobility for low-income students that comes
with a college degree. The study, part of a broader initiative called the
Economic Mobility Project, shows that only 16 percent of those coming from
homes earning in the nation's bottom fifth income ranking remained at this
level if they got a college degree. Forty-two percent moved up to earning among
the nation's top two-fifths.
45 percent of those without a college degree with parents earning in the bottom
fifth remained at this level.
out of the no-college cycle is tough. According to studies done at Harvard and
at the University of Wisconsin, the enrollment of students from poor families
in four-year colleges is about a third that of students from wealthier
families. Also, students from low-income families are far less likely to
problems assaulting low-income families are so major, and since family problems
usually create conditions in which college attendance becomes overly difficult
or impossible for some students, it often isn't realistic to point a teen toward
the college track, especially if the young person doesn't like school or
abstract thinking and discussions in the first place.
solution is to beef up our high schools' technical and vocational education
systems, and give the hope of high-paying jobs and good careers to the hands-on
type of student who isn't college material to begin with.
high-tech companies cannot find enough qualified Americans to fill their needs,
and two-thirds of graduate students at American universities in technical
fields are foreign nationals. If those high-skilled jobs could be filled with
Americans who previously have been dropping out of high school or going
straight to low-skilled, entry-level jobs after graduation, then everyone would
be better off.
Here's an interesting report, "The Overselling of Higher Education":