Free college tuition exacerbates the problem

Free college tuition is being promoted as the solution to the high dropout rate (“Free college tuition will just make matters worse,” Los Angeles Times, Nov. 15).  It is predicated on the assumption that the high cost of earning a degree is the reason.

But the real problem is that not all students are college material.  It takes a certain IQ to handle college-level work.  Other nations understand and accept that reality.  That’s why they accord vocational education in high school the respect it deserves. Unfortunately, we are obsessed with democratization.  Differentiation is anathema.

I fail to see why we persist in the fiction that college is for everyone.  What’s wrong with learning a trade through courses and an apprenticeship?  The widely cited premium attached to possession of a college degree does not take into account one’s major.  I question if a degree in, say, gender studies carries with it the same wage premium as a certificate in, say, plumbing.  Other trades also command attractive salaries.  For example, at last count welders commanded annual salaries exceeding $100,000.

If free college tuition becomes a reality, more students will be shortchanged than ever before.  Their self-esteem will be crushed, and they will be left behind their peers who chose a curriculum more in line with their true aptitude and ability.

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