Times are changing. Not long ago it was said that a person couldn’t succeed in the world without a high school diploma. Now it’s being said that a person is less likely to succeed without a college degree of any kind.
Times are changing. Not long ago it was said that a person couldn’t succeed in the world without a high school diploma. Now it’s being said that a person is less likely to succeed without a college degree of any kind. A bachelor degree is preferred, but an associate’s degree will also suffice. By the year 2020, it is projected that 60 percent of jobs will require a college degree.
With college being so important, why is the United States ranked 10th in the world for college completion? Once ranked No. 1 in this category, America has drastically fallen and if it keeps falling, college-age Americans will be less educated than their parents. It would be a historical first in the U.S. and certainly not something to be proud of if the situation is not corrected.
The nation as a whole is lacking with only two states, Massachusetts and North Dakota, having a 50 percent or higher rate of young adults (25–34) with a college degree. Oregon has only 36 percent of college-age students with a degree and Washington has not much more with 39 percent. Many could argue that this drop stems from the lack of college preparation in today’s high schools.
Achieve, a nonprofit organization, is dedicated to raising educational standards in order to help the nation’s high schools prepare their students for college. Achieve suggests that high schools set higher standards in subjects such as math, English and science, and that they test students’ preparation for college before they graduate high school.
Higher standards in core subjects I can agree with, but how do you test a student’s preparedness for college? Can it even be measured? Though Achieve recommends this, nowhere does it suggest how this can be done, even though it claims that 21 states have met this suggestion.
Thinking back to my high school days, teachers and faculty were always readily available to help students prepare for college. And my parents were always there to help as well. However, it is ultimately the student’s choice. Unfortunately, in a report recently released by Complete College America, the majority of Oregon high school graduates are not aspiring to attend college.
Is the pressure and high demand of a college degree too great, or does it go back to the question that high schools just aren’t preparing its students? Achieve seems to think that students will do only what is expected of them and nothing more. They report that 88 percent of college students would have worked harder in high school if they had demanded more of them.
Whether it is a lack of motivation or preparation is something we may never be able to pinpoint fully. Ultimately, success relies on self-determination. High schools can only take the preparation so far. Why Oregonians are less likely to attend college right now may just come down to the lack of funds available to them nowadays. One can only hope that as the economy improves, more high school graduates will eventually attend college for the chance at a better future.