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ERIC Number: EJ857132
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 8
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0009-1383
Misunderstanding Education: Why Increasing College Enrollments Can't and Won't Fix the Economy
Wolf, Alison
Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, v41 n4 p10-17 Jul-Aug 2009
The College Board has just published a "Wake-up Call to the American People and American Educators." In a report entitled "Coming to Our Senses," it argues that this "nation's dominant position in the world order is at great risk.... Across the globe, leaders have put their faith in education. They understand that economic growth rests largely on the quality of a nation's human resources... [and] many of us have been asleep at the switch." It is critical, they argue, for the country to reduce college drop-out rates and increase the numbers of Americans who graduate by their mid-20s--and, obviously, to come up with the public spending that such an imperative requires. It would be wonderful for universities if this were true. Unfortunately it is not. Instead, this argument misrepresents what degrees do for the individual. And it misrepresents what college graduates do for the economy at large. There are three reasons why people cannot simply assume that a year in college, or a college degree, automatically makes everyone first more skilled, and then more productive, and so more prosperous. The first is that education is about sorting people out, not just about teaching and learning. The second is that not all degrees are created equal. And the third is the nature of the job market. In summary, education helps people get ahead. In a recession, no one will take much persuading that college is one of the best purchases that they, as individuals, can make. But what college does is put an individual in there with a chance; a college degree suggests that he may be better positioned than other people competing for the same jobs who don't have the degree. That is a very different thing from being a way for countries to deliver economic growth overall. (Contains 5 figures and 4 resources.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United Kingdom