The Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP) recently released a report that indicates that:
(1) Most non-college-goers believed the cost of college was too highIHEP's conclusions are based on a sample of 1,800+ students, 600guidance counselors and roundtable discussions.
(2) Many non-college-goers felt that they needed to work
(3) Some non-college-goers are unwilling to borrow to cover the cost of college
(4) Some non-college-goers expressed uncertainty about their academic preparations
(5) Very few non-college-goers took any of the necessary steps to enroll in college
None of the findings come as a surprise to me, but it is always good to have good research that confirms our suspicions. The report does discuss an apparent disconnect between the student's reasons for not going to college and the perceptions of guidance counselors. This reaffirms my belief that the guidance counseling being provided in high schools is not very effective.
IHEP offers policy options concerning financial aid, opportunity cost and expectations. One option aimed to address expectations is to mandate a college planning course in middle school, so that students can start to think about these things at an earlier age. This is a very tangible and realistic idea that should help to reduce the information gap. In additon to this, school districts could organize more and earlier career fairs, in which employers and area college officers are available to answer student's questions.
The report also mentions, although it does not seem to advocate, a mandatory college prep curriculum for all students. I would scoff at standardized curriculum, as not all students want to go to college and we should allow them other opportunities for a successful career, such as vocational and technical training and opportunities with the military, which provide generous college benefits, by the way.