When we insist all students go to a four-year college, too many get lost along the way.
A shift in the way the United States prepares students for life after high school is long overdue. The U.S. education system currently fails to prepare many young Americans to lead successful adult lives because our preparation strategy is narrow, focused on readying students to attend four-year colleges and universities. As a result, many youth leave high school no more fit to succeed in college than to thrive in the world of work.
Prepared Neither for College …
There is overwhelming evidence of our failure to prepare students to succeed in college. Indeed, approximately one million students in the United States still drop out of high school every year. Even most of those who earn a diploma aren't prepared to do college-level work (ACT, 2011). Little wonder that most U.S. students who enroll in college never earn a degree: Only 40 percent of Americans earn an associate's or bachelor's degree by the age of 27, meaning that most fail to earn a college degree within a decade of leaving high school (Symonds, Schwartz, & Ferguson, 2011).