The Fordham Foundation published an article by Michael J. Petrilli on March 20th with the headline “College isn’t for everyone. Let’s stop pretending it is.” (http://www.edexcellence.net/commentary/education-gadfly-daily/flypaper/college-isn%E2%80%99t-for-everyone-let%E2%80%99s-stop-pretending-it-is) Although the article focuses on the frequent push for lower-performing students to attempt college regardless of their readiness, in the interest of exploring the issue for Melrose students I would ask “Is immediate college matriculation always the best choice for all MHS graduates?”
The statistics around earnings for college graduates are clear – they earn significantly more over a career than non-college graduates. What is not always discussed is the wisdom of pushing a student who is just not ready - academically, socially, or emotionally – to attend a college or university immediately following high school. As we are in the season of college acceptances and commitments, it’s a good time to ask ourselves as a community whether we will judge our students and our schools by the percentage of students immediately going on to 2- and 4-year institutions. Are students failing themselves and their high school if they take some intentional down-time before re-committing to serious academics? Is it preferable for every single student to instantly choose college English class over a more hands-on experience? College list prices are daunting – how about a year of work in order to sustain a continuous college experience rather than having to stop and work in the middle?
Every student (and every individual for that matter) needs to employ life-long learning in order to achieve personal, professional, and financial growth. K-12 education should provide a rigorous curriculum and foster partnerships among teachers, guidance counselors, and families to serve the unique and developing needs of each student. Then we will be prepared to answer a much better question with respect to how the schools have performed with respect to student outcomes: “Is each and every student leaving our classrooms well-prepared to do whatever they realistically choose, well-supported with respect to making quality decisions about their future, and able to marry the two to find a good fit for their next big adventure?”