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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

What if we said ALL need college?

I cringe every time I hear someone say, “Not everyone needs to go to college.”

For too long, too many of us have assumed our children don’t need more education than we had. That’s when you hear, “I didn’t go to college, and I’m doing just fine.” Or, even worse, that line turns into an easy out for giving up on hard-to-teach or unmotivated kids.

Study after study tells us that most of the jobs of the future will require some level of education after high school. We also know that, if we want our youth to remain in Arkansas as adults, we have to be able to both build and attract the jobs that provide for a decent quality of life. Those jobs require more than a high school education.

No matter what set of statistics you look, Arkansas ranks poorly in education rankings: 
  • According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, Arkansas's four-year college completion rate of 19.7 percent pales to Deleware's 54.8 percent, Missouri's 35 percent and even Mississippi's 26 percent.
  • In terms of two-year graduation rates, we rank closer to the middle, but with only 12.4 percent graduating on time.
  • If you rank states by the percent of 25-44 year-olds holding bachelor's degrees or higher, Arkansas sits at 46th.
Among the poorest fourth of Americans, fewer than one in 10 graduated from college, according to a recent Brookings Institution study. How many of those live in Arkansas, I wonder.
So maybe it's true that not every high school graduate needs to go to college, in Arkansas, a lot more of them do.

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