Education Roads Less Traveled: Solving America's Fixation on Four-Year Degrees by Mitch Pearlstein
Every year, large numbers of American young people who are not terribly interested in attending a four-year college reluctantly enroll anyway, effectively pressured by combinations of parents, peers, teachers, guidance counselors, and the normative air they breathe. More than occasionally, they wind up confirming that collegiate life is not for them and, sooner or later, drop out. From there, again more than occasionally, they find themselves unemployed or underemployed, in big-time student debt, and quite possibly feeling like a failure. Cratered paths like these routinely stunt entries to middle-class jobs and careers. These are often needless delays and losses, because other education and career routes are primed to better serve millions of young men and women, especially those who enjoy working with their hands. Taking advantage of these routes also simultaneously enriches our economy. Digging deeply into issues like these is the book’s main aim. Helping teenagers think through what they want to do with their lives occupationally is its main educational mission. Recognizing the economic and other dangers posed by severe skill gaps, made worse by the retirement of skilled baby boomers, adds urgency to the mix.