Harvard Study: Maybe Everyone Shouldn't Be Going to College


All the kids accepted to their school should be going to college (or so they think), so Harvard's bottom line won't be affected if graduating high school students heed the advice of their own study. The Christian Science Monitor explains the predictable results of a Graduate School of Education's "Pathways to Prosperity," something viewers of Reason.tv have long understood: the traditional, four-year college experience isn't for everyone:

Despite a clear message that college is important – and a pervasive desire among young students to attend college – only about 30 percent of Americans complete a bachelor's degree by their mid-20s, with another 10 percent completing an associate's degree by then. A massive effort in recent decades to increase those numbers has improved them only slightly.

"It would be fine if we had an alternative system [for students who don't get college degrees], but we're virtually unique among industrialized countries in terms of not having another system and relying so heavily on higher education," says Robert Schwartz, who heads the Pathways to Prosperity project at Harvard's Graduate School of Education.

Emphasizing college as the only path may actually cause some students – who are bored in class but could enjoy learning that's more entwined with the workplace – to drop out, he adds. "If the image [of college] is more years of just sitting in classrooms, that's not very persuasive."

We could have told you that: