Marty Nemko
The Chronicle of Higher Education

Americans now believe that every young person can benefit from going to college, said Marty Nemko. It’s just not so. For students who graduate high school in the bottom 40 percent of their class, college is usually a waste of money: More than two-thirds of such students who enroll as freshmen, research shows, fail to earn a college degree. Colleges, which are businesses first and foremost, gladly admit these ill-prepared students, cashing their tuition payments but doing little to prepare them for the real world. When they wind up dropping out, these failed students leave campus “with a mountain of debt and devastated self-esteem from their unsuccessful struggles.” When high school students show no aptitude for or interest in academics, their parents do them no favors by insisting on college. Such young people are far better off earning a career-oriented associate degree at a community college, joining the military, or enrolling in job-training programs in a thriving small business. They may not get an expensive diploma to hang on the wall—but they will get the skills they need to hold good jobs and lead happy, productive lives.