Beyond College Access

Just sending more people to college may not be the answer. According to a piece by Marsha Mercer in the Winston-Salem Journal:

President Obama wants to raise the number of college grads by 8 million by 2020 “because America has to have the highest share of graduates compared to every other nation.” But do we, really? It’s red, white and blue, but we should ask if we’re serving our people and our country well by simply churning out more of the same.

Americans still want to believe education is the key to personal and national triumph, but a growing body of research and literature challenges that view. College-educated Americans still do better economically than those without college, but a degree no longer guarantees success or employment.

Leaving aside questions of how on earth we plan to accomplish Obama’s 8 million new graduates goal, it’s not really clear all of those graduates will help much.

Getting more people to college is admirable, for sure, but what would be really effective in terms of economic stability is helping more graduates get out of colleges prepared to assume stable jobs.

Sending more Americans to college is mostly about helping community colleges to better serve more students. Most first-generation college students, after all, access higher education through community college.

How about if making community colleges work can be the other part of this goal? It’s not just about getting more people to college; it’s about making that college education worthy of all this effort.

Daniel Luzer

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