Okay, I am going to say it. Even if nobody else will! We have gotten to the point in the United States where money determines the opportunities many students have after high school. This did not used to be the case. Education or training after high school has always been the way people have bettered their lives, the lives of their children, and their community. However, for the past fifty or so years, educators, policy makers, and others have argued over, debated, and many have come to accept the belief that people’s incomes have the greatest impact on student success after high school. Now this would not necessarily be a problem if the upward climb for those who do not come from money or have opportunity were not full of challenges. Here are a few.
First, and foremost, even with all of the federal financial aid, scholarships, and loan support available; a student’s choices are fairly well set in concrete by the time they get to their senior year in high school. Their preparation is impacted tremendously by where he or she lives; what resources (money for activities, books and computers, the quality of teaching and counseling, etc.) his or her school has; what happens in his or her home (How much do they read? How much do they watch TV? Do they move a lot? Have food and health care? Etc.) and more. So, if it is true – and it is – that all schools, colleges and programs are not equal in their ability to make sure students are prepared for future jobs and careers. Then, where a student attends greatly affects his or her ability to succeed. The reason that the availability of all of this money has not really caused more students to get the education and training they need after high school is that this help arrives too late. The horse is already out of the barn. By their senior year, students are either already well prepared or not, or someplace in the middle. The choices they have of what to do after high school will follow their level of preparation. Better prepared students will have more choices and greater opportunity to succeed. Those students who are poorly prepared will choose from a range of colleges, schools and programs, many of whom with poor records of student achievement and lower or no admissions standards.