I tend to agree with your analysis, especially where it concerns on the job training.
Lately I've been thinking that college mania is the wrong response to a real problem. Fact: the world is becoming more technological and governments see that the nations need more thought workers --- people who can work with the new technologies.
The problem, I think, is that we're using the wrong approach to solve the problem. There's this assumption that we just need to send more people to college and produce more people with BAs. Then, Presto! We get thought workers! So mostly everyone from the President on down is pushing everyone to go to college. Obama himself has said that we need to have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world.
But this assumption, I think, is wrong. And the fact that so many students drop out of science and engineering courses is evidence of that fact. According to The National Center for Education Statistics
, 1.6 million BAs were handed out in 2009 (see here too
). Of those, over a million were in these fields:
- Business was first, at 348,000 diplomas. This was more than twice the nearest next degree (social sciences).
- Social sciences and history
- Health sciences
- Visual & performing arts
The top two categories at the master's level were business and education.
None of those degrees teach the kinds of skills that people need to create new technologies or improve existing ones. I wonder how many of these graduates (except the ones in health sciences) are stuck with big student loans in (low paying?) jobs outside their fields.I think that the real problem is that we're focusing almost exclusively on the wrong group while ignoring the group most likely to do well in a traditional college major and then go on to make real contributions.
We need smart, creative, science and technology workers, as well as smart educated people in other fields. But our public schools mostly ignore these kids while they push students to incur debt --- so they can get degrees in business, sociology, or journalism. The private schools and programs like EPGY and CTY are better, but not everyone can afford them.
So I guess I'm saying that this is a serious problem that I fear will end up crippling us eventually.The nation needs to take an honest look at our ideas about education (but seems to need the equivalent of a Sputnik program to provide a sufficient earthquake).