06 June 2010

Everyone Go To College. Now!

Walmart's partnering with a for-profit to provide access to college degrees.  Frontline's story, College, Inc. of for-profits left us wondering whether we should beware of their practices. And this article in Inside Higher Ed, Higher Education's Big Lie suggested that a college degree does not equal mass social mobility as we're lead to believe.

Going to college is the talk of the town.

Yes, I believe that social and economic mobility are attainable through formal education. But as someone who went back to school later in life, I'm not sold on the wholesale idea. And as someone whose parents worked during an era when a high school diploma plus some intelligence got you upwardly-mobile white collar jobs, I'm even more skeptical. Going (back) to college doesn't make sense if you're not clear about why, what and how. It'd be like taking out a small business loan to start a business without doing your homework on your idea's market and competition, etc..

Schooling alone doesn't address the myriad of issues that exclude large groups of people from mobility, and I fear that Obama's rhetoric, and the glut of press on higher education is obscuring that fact. I'm concerned about people who buy into the dream at costs they're unable to manage. They are a demographic of individuals and communities in the middle and lower classes who don't have access to formal and informal insider-knowledge or exist in contexts to cultivate it.