Back Up the Mountain

Finally something positive about education, well sort of. The article titled, “Record Number of Young Americans Earn Bachelor’s Degree” focuses on the history of high school and college graduates in the U.S. both past and present. Sadly, America used to be number 1 in education attainment in the world, until 1992 when foreign and European countries took over. Currently the U.S. is fourth in education attainment behind Japan who is number three, Israel number two, and dun dunna- Canada at number one. According to the Pew Research Center Analysis, for the first time a third of the nation’s 25-29 year olds have earned at least a bachelors degree, this number has greatly improved since the 70’s when only one-fifth of young adults had earned a bachelors and only 78% were high school graduates compared to 90% now.  This is an astonishing increase in people graduating in a small amount of time and definitely something to cheer about, Hooray!! The study attributes this return to education and graduation to the recession and slow job recovery leading young people in the direction of education to secure better and higher paying jobs, BUT where are those jobs? Being an almost-educator myself I obviously believe in education for all, at least at the high school level but I fear the number of college graduates with mounting college debt and no guarantee for better or higher paying jobs, or really any job at all. But back to the good stuff- if you are lucky enough to get a job after graduation the wage premium is up 40% since 1983! Another hooray! Let the debt mount and the jobs recess, at least we’ll be educated! And perhaps we can climb back to that top spot soon enough. 

I suppose the moral to this story is apply, apply, apply (to jobs and to college) and stand out! As I work at my pre-practicum at Newton North I am pleased to see how hard the students and teachers work in the college prep classes. They are working diligently to make their application letters as appealing  and representative of themselves as possible. Students are dedicating a large amount of time to this process and most are applying early. It is encouraging that teachers get to act as mentors, in this sense, as some students may not receive this kind of support or encouragement at home. It an exciting time for these hopeful young people and I look forward to being a part of this very soon.

The article mentions a “education reversal” which took place over the last few years in which there were less young educated people than older ones, for example, “in 2007, the share of adults aged 45 to 64 who had graduated or earned a bachelor’s degree was slightly higher than among 25 -to 29- year olds”. This is a strange idea but one that makes sense. I feel like America took a little break from caring about educationm especially with such a large concentration on a crumbling economy. Kids were being left behind and school systems were being bled dry with no money left in the pot. But we’re back! The curse has been reversed! The “reversal”, that arose in the first decade of 2000s is being reversed yet again. Young people, perhaps due to awesome college prep courses in high school, are graduating from college and young people have taken over once again. This is good news for the future of our country and hopefully for the economy as well. 

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Back Up the Mountain

  1. CHAUCER

    I don’t think I necessarily believe in “education for all” – wait, before you get mad at me! I definitely think it’s great that so many people are graduating high school, but I would argue that it’s not a realistic or helpful goal to hope that some day everyone will go to college (but, I don’t think that was the argument you were making anyway). The economy needs people who are trained in specific skills outside of the academic realm, after all, and some of these people working these “blue collar jobs” are making ten times more than your average college grad when they start their own businesses. I wish there was a way that teachers could help their high school students pursue their goals outside of a college education. I wish there were advisors at high schools that were able to give advice on things other than college applications for students who want to take a different route. I think a large part of the drive to go to college is the easy availability of student loans and the desire for colleges to make as much money off of new students as possible. We have to keep in mind that higher education is an industry and they don’t always have only the altruistic goal of education in mind for students: sometimes it’s just the dollar signs in their eyes.

    Thanks Tamzin, very interesting post and article. The news about the college wage premium made me feel a lot better … Hopefully, those pesky student loans will prove to be a good investment for all of us that have to deal with them!
    – Mary Beth

  2. Hi Mary Beth thanks for you comment!
    I definitely agree with you about alternative routes after high school and I also believe that college is not for everyone. What I was implying about “education for all” was in regards to high school not necessarily college, though an education never hurt anyone. I know that for me, college wasn’t something I had even considered until years after high school especially because in England it is NOT the norm like it seems to be in this country. In fact, I am the first person to ever attend university in my whole family.

    What I am pleased about though is that high schools are working with students to get them to consider college as an option for them regardless of where they come from etc. It seems natural that advisors and teachers strive for students to attend college because they are educated people themselves who have dedicated their life to teaching and learning. However, I wonder what teachers response would be to a student that says they do not plan on going to college and therefore do not think they need to participate. Perhaps the college prep classes are not mandatory for everyone? I really don’t know the answer to this but I will find out.

  3. ashleyguthro

    Hi Tamzin and Mary Beth,
    I think your post was very informative and encouraging, I can tell you have a true passion for teaching and education. I think there are alternative routes for high school students besides going to college or even college prep classes. We have Vocational schools and Tech schools. I know in my town if you did not want to attend Saugus High and you were thinking about seeking a trade you could go to Wakefield Vocational school, where they mix the disciplinaries with a specific trade of your choice. Freshman year at a vocational school requires students to take one class on each trade and then they pick the trade that they want to focus on and major in. This is another option for students seeking alternative routes that also has an education aspect. I think you both bring up great points and I am really glad I read this blog post. It is awesome that we have increased considerably with the number of students now graduating high school!
    I am impressed by how hard the students and teachers are applying themselves to prepare for college or and their futures. I tutor adults that are studying for their GEDs and I am overwhelmed by how hard each one of them work. They want to further their education and they are determined to do so. I hope that the future generations keep up this increase and teachers continue their hard work.
    Thank you for the great entry,
    Ashley G.

  4. Tamzin I think your post was very insightful and definitely uplifting. Your statistics really reemphasize how fortunate our generation is; to attend college whether its on daddies dime or financial aid and loans. You’ve highlighted and provided that we have come a far way as a people, and our aspirations have superseded previous generation’s expectations of what it meant to be accomplished. I think it is refreshing to read an article that talks about the evolution and history of the people world and their education and how many more are graduates from higher learning institutions than the percentage within the 45- 60 year old age group. These articles should make those that thought getting a college education was hard or out of their reach, reconsider their thoughts and realize college is doable and possible.

    I believe the saying the youth or the children are our future, because we are, with each generation comes evolution and change and tenacity, a drive to tackle what the previous generations did not accomplish or goals they didn’t reach. We have all of the necessary resources to make it through college and graduate regardless of our families history or background, we can break the cycle and do what might have appeared as impossible to many.

    This article is great and Ashely couldn’t have said it better it is encouraging as well as informative.

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