College isn’t for everyone – and that’s OK

Bruno Beidacki

Only 59 percent of students who start college in the United States graduate in six years or less. The numbers, which are released yearly by the Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics, are even lower when it comes to four-year graduation rates.

In other words, out of every 10 students in your classes, on average, only six will graduate within a reasonable period of time. A couple of them will take almost a decade to get their degrees, while the other two will drop out of school. One of the main reasons for that is that college is not for everyone. And it shouldn’t be.

We need to talk about why college is even pushed as a required path to success.

Instead of making college more affordable for those who wish to pursue a career that requires further education but can’t afford it, we are trying to make everyone go to college. That’s the major problem here; there is an enormous misinterpretation of the issue when it comes to the accessibility of higher education.

Everyone who is prepared to attend college and wishes to do so should be able to do it. That doesn’t mean, however, that everyone needs to go to college. Today, there are thousands of higher education institutions in the United States, many of them with questionable standards for accepting students and awarding degrees.

The internet only makes the situation worse, as the amount of for-profit private universities has skyrocketed through the creation of online schools. When it comes to for-profit universities, the six-year graduation rate is an absurdly low 23 percent. That’s right: Less than a fourth of students enrolled in those universities get their degrees in six years or less.

Even more shocking is the lack of preparation that these students have when starting college. Some can barely read and write, while others struggle to solve basic mathematical equations.

The first step into changing this trend is to break the stigma that jobs that don’t require a college degree are less honorable than those that do. Parents and teachers need to do a better job of explaining that working in a fast food restaurant or a car dealership does not make you less worthy of praise and admiration.

College might not be for us, and that is OK. College is not for a lot of people, and many of them turn out just fine.

Our higher education system needs to be redesigned, and it starts with us telling each other that college is just another possible path for success, that college is one of the many options we have when we graduate high school. And, most importantly, that going to college doesn’t make us better than anyone else.

Bruno Beidacki is the opinion editor. Contact him at [email protected].