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May 14, 2010 1:54 PM College for Some or Some College for All?

By Daniel Luzer

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College isn’t worth it. Joining the chorus of the college detractors, the Associated Press wonders if too many Americans are going to college, or something. According to the article:

Growing numbers of experts are challenging the assumption that a four-year degree is essential for real success.
Many economists and academics say more Americans should consider technical training or two-year schools, which have been embraced in Europe for decades. The experts cite evidence such as increasing student debt, stagnant graduation rates and a struggling job market flooded with overqualified degree-holders.

Really? “Growing numbers of experts.” It’s not actually clear that anyone ever had the assumption that a four-year degree is essential for real success. Virtually all talk of “college for all” by economists and academics was always really more about community and technical college than a four year degree. The trouble is that currently American community and technical colleges tend to do a sort of crappy job at career training.

The solution might well be to improve these institutions (check out the Jamie Merisotis and Stan Jones Monthly article about how to do this) and make them more effective at helping people train to get good jobs. Knocking the straw man “college for all,” however, is just a waste of time. [Image via]

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer