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ERIC Number: EJ998240
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2012-Mar-4
Pages: N/A
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0009-5982
Tuning In to Dropping Out
Tabarrok, Alex
Chronicle of Higher Education, Mar 2012
Over the past 25 years, the total number of students in college has increased by about 50 percent. But the number of students graduating with degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) subjects has remained more or less constant. In 2009 the United States graduated 89,140 students in the visual and performing arts, more than in computer science, math, and chemical engineering combined and more than double the number of visual-and-performing-arts graduates in 1985. There is nothing wrong with the arts, psychology, and journalism, but graduates in these fields have lower wages and are less likely to find work in their fields than graduates in science and math. Moreover, more than half of all humanities graduates end up in jobs that don't require college degrees, and those graduates don't get a big income boost from having gone to college. Most important, graduates in the arts, psychology, and journalism are less likely to create the kinds of innovations that drive economic growth. Economic growth is not the only goal of higher education, but it is one of the main reasons taxpayers subsidize higher education through direct government college support, as well as loans, scholarships, and grants. The potential wage gains for college graduates is reason enough for students to pursue a college education. The obsessive focus on a college degree has served neither taxpayers nor students well. Only 35 percent of students starting a four-year degree program will graduate within four years, and less than 60 percent will graduate within six years. Students who haven't graduated within six years probably never will. The U.S. college dropout rate is about 40 percent, the highest college dropout rate in the industrialized world. That's a lot of wasted resources. Students with two years of college education may get something for those two years, but it's less than half of the wage gains from completing a four-year degree. No degree, few skills, and a lot of debt is not an ideal way to begin a career. A big part of the problem is that the United States has paved a single road to knowledge, the road through the classroom. Lots of students, however, crash before they reach the end of the road. Who can blame them? Sit-down learning is not for everyone, perhaps not even for most people. There are many roads to an education. Going to college is neither necessary nor sufficient to be well educated. Apprentices in Europe are well educated but not college schooled. The author contends the need to open more roads to education so that more students can reach their desired destination.
Chronicle of Higher Education. 1255 23rd Street NW Suite 700, Washington, DC 20037. Tel: 800-728-2803; Tel: 202-466-1000; Fax: 202-452-1033; e-mail: circulation@chronicle.com; Web site: http://chronicle.com
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: High Schools; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Austria; Denmark; Finland; Germany; Netherlands; Norway; Switzerland; United States