Should everyone go to college?

I haven't taught adult ed. but I did TA and teach at a community college and my answer to this is a firm "No". Not everyone should go to college. On this island where I live and work people tend to be extremely preoccupied with academic success. This is understandable since we are a developing nation with few exports and a tourism industry that is still being shaped. The best jobs (and the only ones with guaranteed pensions) tend to be in the civil service and increasingly these jobs require qualifications beyond a high school diploma. In addition to these there are also the so called "big jobs": doctors, lawyers, engineers and the like.

Many parents have high hopes for their children to hold one of these "big jobs". Policy ensuring universal access to education until age 18 was not passed until 2002. People coming from depressed socioeconomic backgrounds want to see better lives for their children and to them, the opportunity for that lies in education. I agree with them to an extent. Both of my parents came from rural areas, had many siblings and parents who were labourers. Neither of them could afford to go to high school and I have no doubt that their lives would have been much different if they had. I can get behind the idea that everyone should go to grade school and complete high school. College is another kettle of fish entirely.

Because of this push for jobs that require tertiary education and possibly advanced degrees everyone wants their kid to go to college regardless of their actual aptitudes or interests. While teaching I have encountered scored of students who would be better served by professional apprenticeships in other fields or technical and vocational training. It wasn't that they weren't intelligent - they simply weren't good at critically analyzing the failure of the West Indian Federation or explaining the significance of Aime Cesaire to the Pan-Africanist movement. Moreover they had no real *desire* to do so. Like the author of the article I thought I was able to stir their interest in certain topics and thought we were getting somewhere but in the end many of them would just rather be doing something else and were trying to pass these courses because someone else was saying they *had* to.