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ERIC Number: EJ854053
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2002-Mar
Pages: 7
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-0895-4852
Increasing Access to College: An Educational Mistake
Toby, Jackson
Academic Questions, v15 n2 p46-52 Mar 2002
Sociologists have a bad reputation, mostly deserved. Sociologists tell people things they already know in words that they can't understand. But among sociologists' useful ideas is the conception of society as a system of interdependent parts. This conception suggests that what happens in one subsystem of American society influences what happens in another subsystem. For instance, the increased demand for knowledge workers in the occupational subsystem should require students to obtain greater knowledge from the educational system. Conversely, if students learn too little during their exposure to formal education, their future employers must either make-do with substandard work performance or educate them over again. Furthermore, since the educational system itself includes interdependent subsystems, it should be expected that changes in admissions policies at the college level have consequences for what goes on at the secondary school level. This interdependence of the American system of higher education with what goes on educationally at lower educational levels is the principal subject of this article. To sum up: higher education is not as high as people would like it to be. One factor in the deterioration of standards is that the educational system is indeed a system. Maximizing access to post-secondary education tends to diminish student achievement in both high school and college. Improving the quality of American education has been a national concern for several decades. Unfortunately, "investments" in education do not deal with the most important contributor to the miserable performance of students in high school and, to a lesser extent, in the lower grades: lack of incentives for students to work hard in grade school and high school in order to learn. As long as colleges are too easy to get into, students in primary and secondary schools will continue to pursue immediate gratifications--such as cruising the malls--rather than postponing pleasures of the moment for an investment in their future educational and occupational success. The quickest and cheapest way to improve primary and secondary education, not to mention higher education, is to award financial help mainly to high school graduates with above average SAT scores and rank in class. Such a change in public policy, the author contends, would require educating the electorate so that voters understand that neither secondary nor higher education is going to improve until there are incentives built into the process of gaining access to a college education.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education; Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A