Thursday letters: College prep isn’t for everyone

May 1, 2014 

— Colin Fox’s March 19 commentary (“Don’t know much about history … or designing a curriculum”) misrepresents my recommendation to create a more flexible high school curriculum.

The current curriculum is based on the assumption that every child can, and therefore should, attend a four-year college. While I support college-prep for students who aspire to a bachelor’s degree, we must offer relevant programs for the 70 percent of students who will not earn one.

There are more college graduates in South Carolina than there are jobs requiring a college degree. According to the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce, almost 32 percent of our adults 25 or over have bachelor’s degrees, yet only 17 percent of our jobs require one. This is why there are so many college graduates who are underemployed, waiting tables or working in retail. This is also why many students at our technical colleges — upwards of 20 percent — already have four-year degrees.

As a college president for 10 years, I appreciate the value of a college education. But for many high school students, college-prep is disconnected from their life plans. So should we be surprised that many are disengaged, disinterested and sometimes discipline problems?

Let’s offer a rigorous course of study that is relevant to the life plans of all our students.

It’s time to stop making high school students who are not college-bound feel like second-class citizens by forcing them to follow someone else’s elusive dream.

Mick Zais

State Superintendent of

Education

Columbia

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