Students often choose the wrong college
Published: Monday, September 14, 2009
Updated: Tuesday, October 6, 2009 10:10
Did you choose the right college to attend? You had better hope so, because that may determine whether or not you graduate.
According to the The New York Times, 33 percent of the freshmen at the University of Massachusetts graduate in six years, 41 percent graduate from the University of Montana, and 44 percent graduate from the University of New Mexico. Now, this is not because of inept teachers or students who are unwilling to learn. No, it is because of students applying to and attending mismatched schools.
It is an appalling statistic, and William Bowen, co-author of "Crossing the Line" and former Princeton president, agrees with me. He says many students, though well-qualified, choose not to attend the best college they can get into, instead going to colleges that are less selective, closer to home, or less expensive. He goes on to say half of the low-income students with a GPA of at least a 3.5 and an SAT score of 1200 do not attend the best college they could. Apparently, those who should have applied to and enrolled in the University of Michigan's Ann Arbor campus (graduation rate 88 percent) or Michigan State (graduation rate 74 percent) instead apply to Eastern Michigan (graduation rate 39 percent) or Western Michigan (graduation rate 54 percent).
Everybody is entitled to an education, and a good one at that, and to see students not take advantage of that is disappointing, especially when the dominating factor in it all is money.
With all this talk of low-income students not picking the right college, it brings up another question: what about the rich kids? Do they make the same wrong choices about college? It doesn't matter. In fact, they will graduate no matter where they go. More often than not, they go to the colleges that produce graduates, while low-income students go to colleges that produce failures. I do not know about you, but this is making me uneasy.
What is being done about this? Is anything at all? Fortunately, yes. The University of Maryland, Baltimore County has started an intensive program that has raised its graduation rates and the state of West Virginia has been giving financial aid based on academic progress, which has also aided in raising the graduation rates. Those programs have been doing so well the national government is starting to take notice.
The U.S. Congress and President Obama's administration are now putting together an education bill that tries to deal with the problem. The bill will cancel out $9 billion in annual government subsidies for banks that lend to college students and use much of the money to increase financial aid. A small portion of the money would be set aside for promising pilot programs aimed at lifting the number of college graduates. Will it do any good? Only time will tell, I guess.
Whatever happens needs to happen soon, because no one should have to sacrifice anything for money, least of all a proper education.