Why A College Degree Might Not Be Best For Everyone | KERA News

Why A College Degree Might Not Be Best For Everyone

Aug 31, 2016

College is usually seen as the best path to economic success. Today on Think, as a part of KERA’s American Graduate initiative – Krys Boyd talked with Katherine Newman, provost of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, about why the “college for all model” isn’t working for everyone. She is the co-author of, “Reskilling America: Learning to Labor in the Twenty-First Century.

The KERA Interview

Katherine Newman on ...

… using vocational training as an alternative to college:

“If you’ve come out of a system that has performed very poorly, the chances that you’re going to have a successful college are slim. So what actually happens to poorly prepared students is that they end up deep in debt without a degree and that is the worst possible outcome. If you took that same person and provided them with a different pathway that would more securely pay off my guess is they would have a better life.”  

… why young people need other options besides college:

“Nothing should ever lead anyone to think that our job is over with respect to elementary school education because we have a long way to go. But while we’re trying to fix that problem the multiple generations that have come through school systems that have not equipped them to succeed in college education we really owe those students a better life than the one they’re living and that’s where I believe vocational education and apprenticeship offers rich alternatives that we should be investing in big time.”    

… for-profit colleges:

“What have been marketed unfortunately are very, very expensive and often poorly constructed for-profit programs that are often in the same skill domain. Those institutions do worry me because they are very costly and they’ve been feeding off the federal student loan system and when we look at the high rates of debt of American students that's where those high rates are … almost all the time, you can get a really high-quality training program of the same kind almost for free in most community colleges.”