College or Bust?

Learning Curve: Is it college or bust? says:

Lerman disputed the notion that all students need to be college-ready and enrolled in the most demanding courses. Empirical evidence contradicts that statement, he argued.

When you ask employers to list the important characteristics for front-line workers, they mention such things as an applicant’s attitude, communications skills and previous work experience, according to Lerman.

An applicant’s grades fall far down the list, he said. Industry-based credentials are valued more than years of schooling. As an example, Lerman said that despite the thrust to require algebra II in high school, only .09 percent of workplaces use it.

My younger son will be pleased to hear that. And I’ve been getting a lot of feedback recently that a specific degree isn’t the point either. Maybe I should talk about that later.

The article focuses on the question of whether it is really necessary for kids to go to college. No, it isn’t. But we don’t have a good alternative. We just don’t. It’s out there. But it’s not here.

Lerman advocates duplicating the sophisticated apprentice programs in Switzerland and Germany. The programs lead to good jobs and meet the needs of students who want relevant and practical skills training alongside their academic classes, he said.

My one friend who was in this system in Switzerland went for secretarial skills. Then she went to college and became a teacher, but in the US.

I’m not sure I really want the early herding effects Swiss schools have, even if I do like the practical aspects of the education system.

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