Should more people go to college?

President Obama announced a $12 billion community college proposal to increase the number of associate degree graduates by 5 million by 2020.

The boost to two-year and technical colleges, he said, will stimulate the economy and prepare students for a workplace that is demanding more highly educated employees.

Here’s how the $12 billion breaks down:

* $9 billion in competitive grants so colleges can try new programs, expand training and improve counseling.

* $2.5 billion for campus construction. This would serve as seed money for capital campaigns.

* $500 million to develop online courses.

How will we pay for this? Obama said the money would be paid out over 10 years and would come from no longer subsidizing banks and private lenders that provide student loans. (A bill changing federal student loans is before Congress.)

What’s interesting about this plan is the focus it places on community colleges. While these institutions enroll about half of all the students attending college, they are often considered the stepchild to four-year schools.

As people lose jobs they turn to community colleges, particularly technical programs, for retraining and to learn new careers.

The State University System of Georgia and others are trying to boost interest in two-year programs as a way to accommodate increased enrollment.

And let’s not forget that these schools are cheaper than four-year programs.

What do you think of the president’s plan? Who do you think would benefit from it?

69 comments Add your comment

William Casey

July 17th, 2009
10:01 am

Good idea! In my 31 years as a high school educator, I sw hundreds of students who were hard working and diligent but had no business going to 4-year academic universities.

jim d

July 17th, 2009
10:19 am

I agree with the concept whole heartedly. As for how Mr. Obama plans to finance it? Well it’s a mere drop in the proverbial bucket when spending well over $700,000,000,000,000 in his first 6 months in office. This indeed would be just another burden placed upon taxpayers. Lets see him continue to spend without increaasing taxes on those earning less than $250k a year.

Bottom line? All the education in the world will be of little value when we have no jobs.

Ernest

July 17th, 2009
11:19 am

I like the idea also! At the same time, I’d like to see great collaboration between tech schools and high schools such that a HS junior can come out with workplace certification after their 12 grade year. As more students see the options available immediately after HS, that could create additional motivation. There was recent legislation in GA to make this easier, we just need a way to effectively ‘market’ this to students.

Old School

July 17th, 2009
11:26 am

So community colleges are now the same thing as technical colleges? Interesting.

At this point let’s insert my dead horse and commence the beating: 80% of the jobs require technical training (some beyond the high school level although many high schools still have quality entry-level vocational programs that put students to work). 20% of the jobs require college level educations (usually the more white collar jobs). Check our our Georgia Dept. of Labor’s website and you’ll find these percentages haven’t changed over these many years.

That being said, vocational training programs are not for dummies. It takes math, reading, thinking, and reasoning skills to be successful. HOPE Grants pay for many students to complete training in various skills areas. They can then actually support themselves (and a family?) and know that HOPE Scholarships just might be there should they actually want that degree.

Before I step away from the carcass, my own degreed daughter has returned to a technical school to learn a skill that has a profitable future. She LOVES it and will have completed the program in 11 months. I’m very proud of her.

DeKalb Conservative

July 17th, 2009
11:39 am

Old School-

You have it right. I hold not only a 4 year business degree, but an MBA. I can attest that far to many people that I went to high school with have no business attending a 4 year program.

I however will also say most people attending a 2 year program for an associates degree are too often not gaining the type of marketable experience that would justify the 1) cost of attending and 2) cost of not entering the work force and making money for two years.

Technical college is the ultimate in differentiation. I used to know vocational trades. I now own a home and have no idea what I’m doing. I failed myself. In addition, if I need anything done I am at the mercy of a person with a skilled trade, often able to charge near a per hour billing rate that I bill at.

I saw about a year ago one of the best fields a young person could go into would be having a locksmith business. After putting some thought into it I completely agree.

DeKalb Conservative

July 17th, 2009
11:41 am

Correction- I used to knock vocational trades…

Cere

July 17th, 2009
11:50 am

Has anyone investigated the Governor’s “Work Ready” Certification program? I’m a big fan. Big fan. I wish our high schools would work more closely with the tech schools in promoting enrollment in these programs. The Gov is ahead of the Feds on this one — check it out –

http://www.gaworkready.org/

ScienceTeacher671

July 17th, 2009
11:52 am

I don’t think I disagree with anyone who has posted here already.

Our DOE seems to think we should prepare all students for a degree at a four-year university. As Old School points out, such preparation is unrealistic considering the sorts of jobs that will be available in the future, and it’s also unrealistic considering the skills and interests of our students.

It would probably reduce education expenses and taxes, improve motivation, and increase workforce preparation if we totally moved some of the technical college training to the high school level, so that more students could graduate from high school with viable job skills, and were not stuck completing four years of high school that doesn’t interest them before they could complete another year or so of technical school training that they would enjoy.

Cere

July 17th, 2009
11:54 am

I have supported vocational/trade schools for years. I have advocated to the DeKalb school system many, many times, but it falls on deaf ears. I have endured the raised eyebrows of the “university only” snobs — only to feel vindicated when I pay my plumber, electrician, auto mechanic, carpenter or hairdresser.

Old School

July 17th, 2009
12:24 pm

In my early years, I taught Industrial Arts. It was a wonderful feeder program for our “heavy shop” programs: metals, construction, automotives. (I’m now an Engineering Drawing instructor). Those heavy shop instructors were recruited out of industry and charged with providing job-entry level skills. IA was where students learned craftsmanship across a broad spectrum of disciplines: woodworking, drafting, metals, small engines, photography/graphic arts, and manufacturing. Then someone higher up got the bright idea that TECHNOLOGY EDUCATION was the way to go and IA shops were shut down in favor of robotics (tinkertoys with electricity in the early days), CNC, desktop publishing, and a plethora of areas crammed into a single term taught by a single teacher in a seldom updated lab. A few hours on each module gave kids a taste but not the full meal. That might work in urban areas but not in rural ones where craftsmen and handymen are needed.

Of course, things will never change because- at least down here- every child is going to UGA (though few have any idea why) and guidance counselors see vocational courses as dumping grounds and classes of last resort.

Let’s split high schools into two tracks (technical & college prep), beef up the maths, sciences, reading, communications for both, and make all academic courses for both tracks RELEVANT to the real world. (Personally, I’d like a third track for special needs that crosses over for classes like PE and fine arts but that seems to make folks upset.) College will always be there for those who truly want and need that level/type of education.

That’s my idea in a tiny nutshell and I’m just not gonna type anymore on it. I’m kinda tired of the repetition as this very subject comes up far too often and no one who could actually make meaningful changes seems to care. Besides, I’ve got a ‘72 VW that needs tuning up.

Reality 2

July 17th, 2009
12:42 pm

OFF TOPIC:

I don’t know if anyone has seen this, but you can now see 30 released items from MATH 1 EOCT. Go to http://gadoe.org/ci_testing.aspx?PageReq=CI_TESTING_EOCT and you see the links to the items and the commentary on those items on a box on the right side of the screen titled, EOCT Resources.

Ernest

July 17th, 2009
1:33 pm

Old School, first off glad you are back posting! Your perspective is valued and appreciated!

I took liberty in my post by focusing on the tech school aspect. While there are collaborative programs with community colleges, I personally feel the tech schools produce graduates whose jobs could not be outsourced. Face it, some folks LIKE working with their hands and providing additional training with that can produce citizens that can work for themselves or eventually become self employed.

Not to ‘one up’ you Old School but I am the son of a former ’shop’ teacher and he was proud to say he taught some of the best cabinet makers in our city. He also worked on the side to help support our family, enabling us to go to college. I understood it was partly due to liability issues but eliminating shop and courses like that from our high schools limited the opportunities for some of our students.

Believe it or not, DeKalb has one of the most advanced ‘work ready’ programs in the state. I believe too many of our students and citizens are not aware of them hence do not take advantage of them.

OldTeach

July 17th, 2009
1:50 pm

Anybody remember “trade schools”? In my town it was a school/apprentice program which allowed 11th and 12th graders to spend part of the day with basics in school and part of the day either book learning about what they were interested in OR in actual work with a person in the business/trade they was interested in. All the plumbers, electricians, builders, etc. in town were in partnership with the school and were happy to have the apprentices. Students then graduated often not only trained/experienced, but with a job already in hand.

Cere

July 17th, 2009
2:59 pm

In my hometown, it’s a school you attend ALL DAY. And let me tell you – to sit there and watch the happy faces of students in the morning as they arrive to school is amazing…

http://www.pentacareercenter.org/

jim d

July 17th, 2009
3:17 pm

Old Teach,

“first off glad you are back posting! Your perspective is valued and appreciated!” AMEN!!

Allow me to mention thaat several of the trades now have their own BAT approved programs for training young people interested in learning a trade. Schools such as the IEC (independent electrical contractors) offers young people an opportunity to learn a skill by providing them with a list of contractors that participate in the program affording them an opportunity to learn through on the job training as well as the class room setting. However, currently a high school diploma or equivalant is required as well as some rather stringent math testing, due to the nature of the business.

I personally would like to see schools work closer with such organizations allowing HS students to participate in the classroom for a year or two–earning HS credit–to better train them for entry level positions into the trades. I do know that systems such as Gwinnett have been aapproached but to daate I do not believe there has been much of aa positive response. Of course that might have a little something to do with Gwinnetts mentality that EVERY student graaduaate will be aattending either UGA or Tech.

where is jim d?

July 17th, 2009
3:50 pm

But watch what trade you study. “Electrical contractor?” Better look at where you plan to work before you take up any trade. Here where I live being an electrical contractor will get you no where. Nearest jobs for that type of skill are about an hour away.

Old School

July 17th, 2009
3:58 pm

jimdear, I’m confused. . . are you glad I’m back or Old Teach or possibly both?

Also to clarify things for those of you who don’t remember some of my early posts (ah! those were the days!): when I started teaching in the early 70s, I was one of only 2-3 FEMALE shop teachers in the entire state.

From many of the earlier posts, I get the impression that some folks don’t know there are still vibrant vocational programs around our state. Ours is one, having come into existence in 1973-74 when our school went “comprehensive.” Unfortunately, little has been updated in those shops over the years yet our instructors still work magic with most of their students. Our Industrial Arts program was shut down in favor of that idiotic Tech Ed in the mid-90s. Money has never been made available to keep programs current with the rapidly changing technology, yet our instructors continue to produce results. I give much credit to shop courses when it comes to improving graduation rates and keeping kids in school. We also have a number of our students enrolled full-time at an area tech. college in the dual credit program.

I’ll go back to that carburetor now. (jimdear, you know I don’t stray too far! Someone has to keep an eye on you!)

Old School

July 17th, 2009
4:18 pm

I guess my brilliant post has been swallowed up by the blog bog! Good thing I copied it elsewhere. Here ’tis:

jimdear, I’m confused. . . are you glad I’m back or Old Teach or possibly both?

Also to clarify things for those of you who don’t remember me from some of my early posts (ah! those were the days!): when I started teaching in the early 70s, I was one of only 2-3 FEMALE shop teachers in the entire state.

From many of the earlier posts, I get the impression that some folks don’t know there are still vibrant vocational programs around our state. Ours is one, having come into existence in 1973-74 when our school went “comprehensive.” Unfortunately, little has been updated in those shops over the years yet our instructors still work magic with most of their students. Our Industrial Arts program was shut down in favor of that idiotic Tech Ed in the mid-90s. Money has never been made available to keep programs current with the rapidly changing technology, yet our instructors continue to produce results. I give much credit to shop courses when it comes to improving graduation rates and keeping kids in school. We also have a number of our students enrolled full-time at an area tech. college in the dual credit program.

And there actually ARE apprenticeship opportunities for high school juniors & seniors. The quality of the experience depends a lot on the quality/integrity of the YAP coordinator.

I’ll go back to that carburetor now

Old School

July 17th, 2009
6:00 pm

Confession: While the best thing this blog can do is teach me patience (lord knows I’ve never seen any of the great suggestions/ideas implemented or mandated by the GDOE), I did make some subtle changes to my original post before reposting it. Students, can you spot the changes?

jim d

July 17th, 2009
6:02 pm

don’t confuse me with details–hell i’m glad to see the both of ya back!!

jim d

July 17th, 2009
6:08 pm

where is jim d?,

You bring a smile to my face.

catlady

July 17th, 2009
6:14 pm

Not to parse it to death, but what do you mean by “college”? If you mean postsecondary education, I think everyone should have it. That includes the whole spectrum. Of course, we lop 20% or more of our students off (they quit) before they get the HS diploma (don’t call it a degree!) They need basic education, practical skills, and earning skills. THEN let’s start on those who don’t have a high amount of academic prowess, but they are smart with people or with their hands, or other skills. They should be involved in technical studies of some sort. Then we have high-aspiring but low achieving and “immobile” students (those who due to unwillingness or inability, cannot “go off” to school): they should be encouraged to develop their skills and increase their aspirations at a community college (we only have 3 in Georgia, but other states have many more) or two year colleges. The other students, showing aptitude AND aspirations should be channeled toward the 4 year colleges. The truly exceptional should be admitted into the research universities. There is room in the world for people with all kinds of abilities. We make a mistake to value the academic over the others.

where is jim d?

July 17th, 2009
6:29 pm

Ernest

July 17th, 2009
7:05 pm

Old School, no love for me? I welcomed you back first. That JimD gets all the bloggers… :)

Have a good weekend all…

Old School

July 17th, 2009
8:19 pm

Aw, so sorry Ernest! My posts sounded like jimdear was teacher’s pet, didn’t they? He and I have been exchanging friendly jabs for some time now but there is certainly room in my favorite corner of my lab (where the coffee pot is) for a new pal.

I’ll even throw in some homemade cranberry biscotti still warm from the oven!

Jessica

July 17th, 2009
8:56 pm

I think it would help if we stop blurring the line between trade schools and college. They are not the same, and some institutions calling themselves college these days are in fact trade schools. Trade schools train their students to do a specific type of work; colleges offer a much broader education. Both types of schools are useful to society and prepare students for a better future, but pretending that they are the same thing devalues real college education and make trade school grads think they have something they really don’t.
That said, I think everyone who is willing to work hard should have some preparation for a good career. That doesn’t always mean they should go to college.

catlady

July 17th, 2009
9:52 pm

Or, as we say around here, “Where is jim d AT?

my great response to this did not appear about 6:15. If it “had of”, you all would’ve been impressed.

Ms. Goolsby

July 18th, 2009
12:03 am

Good to see you back, jim d.

Juge Prince Hall, Th.D,

July 18th, 2009
12:05 am

Juge Prince Hall: jim d, we missed you.

Connie Glanton Nellums

July 18th, 2009
12:06 am

I thought that I would never say that I missed you jimmy d, but I did.

Ron R. C. Lewis

July 18th, 2009
12:09 am

jim d, i hope that we will always be friends. we try to be unbiased in our opinions and we think your the man. yes, your the man!

Tony

July 18th, 2009
3:09 pm

This plan is one of the few that makes sense. To pay for it? Well, those with degrees of any kind make more money and add to the economy.

Teach

July 18th, 2009
5:48 pm

As a technical school instructor, our technical schools do not include the word “quality” in the curriculum. They care about numbers no matter how it is obtained. As a degree professional, there is a tremendous amount of room for improvement to prepare these students for the real world. Our technology is so outdated it is a joke. Administrators just don’t get it.

Sp Ed Teacher

July 18th, 2009
7:46 pm

18 school systems in GA have dual enrollment with Technical Schools–right on the HS campus. Technical School teachers come on the campus and teach. I believe Henry Co is the latest school system to try this.

It takes a smart student to do all that Math and English; it is not for the 2.5 student. At first, I thought it might be an opportunity for Sp Ed students, but they have to pass the Entrance Exam for the Technical School and most of my students can not do that.

Several HS in my area have discontinued popular Vocational classes because they can not find teachers. The instructors can make many times more in their profession compared to HS. Plus, they don’t have to deal with students, parents, and administrators.

Still Consertative

July 18th, 2009
8:07 pm

Im still in favor of working for what you get. I did not get help with my college and I dont expect my tax money to help with others. Let them work for it same as I did.

People, when will the spending stop. At what tax bracet will we end up in? The Constitution does not give anyone the right to free public healthcare, free education past highschool or anything else. When is everyone going to open there eyes and see that this costs and costs plenty. I for one want to keep my money that I earn every week because I still have to plan for retirement and survive. Enough of the tax and tax and tax. Stand on you own two feet, work hard and earn your own way. Stop asking and allowing the government into your lives like this. Its a big mistake.

Bronson

July 18th, 2009
8:54 pm

I am more than willing to have my tax dollars used to send people to college. I like an educated society. Idiots are very expensive. The idiot tax that we all pay for the less-educated certainly exceeds the cost of this education bill. Consider what is cost to send people to prison. And you know college grads, rarely go to prison.

Joseph

July 18th, 2009
9:52 pm

Just one point that should be clarified. Community colleges and technical schools are NOT the same thing. They have different missions. Community colleges are designed to prepare students to enter 4-year college work at the sophomore/ junior level. Technical schools are designed to prepare a student in a particular field for immediate entry into the workforce upon graduation.

David S

July 18th, 2009
10:52 pm

Every other plan he has proposed, along with the lingering effects of Bush’s abomination, will destroy this country’s economy so thoroughly that college will be the last thing on anyone’s mind. Of course everyone should not go to college. The fact that we have had government grants, guaranteed loans and every other government involvement in the college process is exactly why college costs so much today. Add to that the guarantee of the Hope Scholarship and now we have skyrocketing costs AND grade inflation. The internet destruction of the palacial 4 year college monopoly on education is the best thing that could have happened. But again, once this worse than ever depression really sets in, staying alive will become far more important than worrying about higher education.

barb

July 18th, 2009
11:17 pm

how does Mr. Obaa intend to pay for all this???
he wants everyone to have free health care, free college, free this and that. when will it stop??
IT IS NOT THE GOVERNMENTS JOB TO TAKE CARE OF YOU AND COLLEGE IS NOT A RIGHT, IT IS A PRIVILEGE! WE must stop this sense of entitlement.
I went to college, it took me 6 years- but I paid for it and did not take a hand out or a loan to do so.

Dondee

July 18th, 2009
11:30 pm

Barb, I couldn’t agree with you more! How is 44 ($$) intending to pay for all of this? I am sick to death of the Federal Imperial Government of the United States wanting to take care of EVERYTHING for the citizens! It will get to the place where there is literally no incentive to work hard and achieve. Why should you if you can get a mediocre job, health care, education. No worries…all done for you.
Sickening!

Dondee

July 18th, 2009
11:32 pm

And, for you sheeple who think the Imperial Gov’t is offering all of these freebies out of the kindness of their souls….WRONG! They are doing it to be in control. Good God, how dumb have we become?

deidre_NC

July 18th, 2009
11:52 pm

at the high school my recently graduated daughter attended (in NC) she took several college classes during her 10th,11th and 12th grade years. i think she graduated with 23 college credits. she starts next month at the local community college for her nursing degree. she had 2 fully paid scholarships to 2 different universities here in NC, but she decided that she would rather go 2 years…maybe 3 if she specializes, and come out ready to start her career and making money-instead of going for 4 years. i am all about what she wants to do…she is 17 nd will be 20 when she graduates with her RN…she can then further her education if she wants, while she is able to support herself. she already has most of the non-nursing classes done so shes getting off to a great start. the community college here does their clinicals at emory u in atlanta, so thats pretty great. there are several kids that graduated with her that have their welding certification and a couple who got some mechanical certification, all while attending high school. we live in a very rural area and didnt have any ap classes so the kids who qualified and wanted to were allowed to take as many college classes as they wanted to. ive seen many kids from this school graduate and go into their junior year at a 4 year college. this should be able to happen anywhere. some of these kids would never have been able to afford to go to a 4 year university if they hadnt gotten 1 or 2 years done in high school. and btw-all the college classes for high school kids were free…they only had to furnish booksand material. some of the kids who got their welding certs were kids who never would have been able to go to a university either for financial reasons or just the fact they are not great students. in fact im sure 3 that i can think of wouldnt have done anything but maybe go work at mcdonalds after graduation. now they are being offered jobs making up to $25 per hour right out of high school. i love system here and the fact they have given these kids an opportunity they never would havehad. higher education really isnt for everyone. not everyone has the money and not everyone has thementality to go 4 MORE years to school. trade school or whatever you want to call it let the kids go learn what they need to learn to do a certain job and not have to take classes they would never male it in..like world history for example. nowme i would go take every class i could if i could afford to andhad the time just becasue i love to learn anything. everyone isnt like that. so i am all in favor of more support being given to the 2 year degrees and certifications. plus-lots of the 2 year degrees you can immediately start making good to great money-and if you want to go further you can do it at night or online. and face it…welders, plumbers, nurses, cabinet makers-i cant think of more right now..but lots of 2 year degrees are jobs that pay very well.

didnt mean to post so long but since my daughter just graduated and we have been making decisions on whether to take the 4 year scholarships or not this subject has been discussed a lot here in my home lately.

G

July 19th, 2009
12:52 am

As a libertarian, I don’t think the government has any business. But seeing the current political climate and the fact that we print all the money we need, we might as well invest in something that could actually help us instead of fake stimulus project.
After reading some of the comments here, I do think now that it would be a great idea for us to, perhaps, invest in vocational classes and workshops/labs in high schools. The school I graduated from a few years back had vocational classes that were there for the purpose of babysitting teenagers that had a hole to fill in their schedule. Albeit 90% of my graduating class went to college, there was zero actual preperation for the real world for that other 10%. It really sickens me that they practically wasted four years.

Ron R. C. Lewis

July 19th, 2009
1:24 am

I thought ole jim d would return…he’s been spending too much time on Jim Wooten’s blog.

Bill

July 19th, 2009
6:38 am

Just a point of information: in many states (NC for instance) community colleges and technical schools ARE the same thing.

jim d

July 19th, 2009
6:52 am

obviously ron you have me confude with someone else. However, it is nice to know one is missed.

jim d

July 19th, 2009
6:53 am

lol confused.

somethings never change–kinda like education i guess.

Question

July 19th, 2009
8:32 am

The neverending question should always be — how are we (emphsis on “WE”) going to pay for this?

The Congress and PresBO continue to reach for their version of reality where everyone is dependent on the government for everything, success is penalized – failure rewarded, and tax the “rich” to reach their goal (the bar on how “rich” is defined is also always changing.

Beware — socialism is socialism no mater how PresBO colors it!!!

Huckabee The Next POTUS

July 19th, 2009
8:39 am

Obambam is quickly destoying this once great Country. He has done so much damage in such a short time, it has become hard to keep up. I have watched this piece of garbage stand on foreign soil and apologize for our arrogance and then inform the world we are now a muslim nation. Instead of Gorilla glue for his butt perhaps it should be applied to his lips to shut this idiot up. Well, it’s getting late, I need to go obama, shower and shave.

Ron R. C. Lewis

July 19th, 2009
8:48 am

I like Huckabee. He is against the IRS. Yeah.