Fixing the College Problem

Let’s face it.  The college system is broken in more ways than one.  If you go to college and know what you want to do, you are forced to spend four years with classmates, half of whom do not know what they want to do and all of whom have loose morals.  If you go to college and you do not know what you want to do, you are going to rack up a lot of student loan debt over a period of AT LEAST four years while you try to decide what to do.  And if you go to college with loose morals, well, let’s just say the odds of you finding Jesus in college are pretty slim.

But that is just one aspect of the problem.  The system today has basically made going to college standard operation for people who would otherwise either not go ever, or at least not go right after high school.

When I was in high school, all I knew was that I wanted to make a lot money; so I looked at the career options and said ‘accountants make a lot of money, I’ll be an accountant.’  Did I know what exactly it took to be an accountant?  No; I thought you told the computer the information and it told you the answer.  WRONG.  I soon discovered that accountants do put stuff in the computer, but they have to know when and where and how; not to mention knowing how the computer got the answer it did, and whether or not that answer was even right.

That was my modus operandi in high school, and I graduated at the top of my class; what are the odds my classmates had any idea what they wanted to do, and what all it took to do that job?

The issue here is not the high schools.  High schools are academic institutions that teach the basics, they are not career catalogs.  You want to know why so many people leave high school wanting jobs in education?  Because that is the only career that high schools know how to sell, because everyone who works in the high school is in education.

The result is that even more people are spending more time in college trying to find the career that best fits them; which leads to more time spent in college and more money taken out in loans.

The answer here may be more scholarships.  That first of all does nothing to fix the problem, it only encourages more people to go to college.  Second of all, when so many people are in college, the people who actually need the scholarship money cannot get it, because there is to much competition.

So what is the solution?

I propose that no one goes to college until the age of 20.  I graduated high school at 17, but most will graduate at 18.  That gives everybody two years to get a handle on what they want to do with their life.

What are they to do during those two years?  There are several options, the first being getting a job and saving money for college.  This has the twofold effect of building a savings account that can pay some of those college bills and allows one to experience the work force full time and choosing the career that they can excel in, rather than choosing the career that they think they might excel in.

Another option is going into the military for two years.  The military offers discipline and training to people who otherwise do not have any; and as a bonus, one can learn a trade in the military that can immediately be put to use once their service has been completed.  And finally, the military provides very generous assistance toward those who leave the military and go to college.

Upon reaching the age of 20, one may enroll in college.  Those two years will weed out a large number of those who would have otherwise gone to college, either because they have found the vocation that they truly desire to serve in, or they are still in the military.  This smaller pool of applicants will allow for more available scholarship money to those who do apply and thus result in smaller student loan debt.

Another change is shortening the time in college.  In order to ensure some guidelines for colleges on the academic ability of these prospective students, before entering, all must take a GRE-equivalent exam to show math and reading skills.  Also since we have changed the overall scope of college, making college 3 years instead of four should also be undertaken.  All core classes are done in the first year, all classes related to one’s major will be done in years 2 and 3.  Again, this allows for the accumulation of less student loan debt, as well as the tying up of scholarship money for shorter periods of time.

Now some exceptions should be made.  For instance: for those who score over a certain number on their SAT’s or ACT’s, showing that they are truly academically gifted, can go to college immediately after high school.  Also for those who wish to enroll in a vocational or technical school and learn a trade, they also may do so immediately following high school.

What is the end result of all of this?  You will see a student body in college that is committed to academics, colleges that can focus more on the students who want to be there and less of the students who do not want to be there, and finally, graduates who have taken the extra time to find the vocation that best suit them.

About revschmidt

An LCMS Pastor in North-Central Kansas
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