The Plan To Make Community College Free, Ctd

Andrew Sullivan —  Jan 12 2015 @ 11:17am

A reader isn’t a fan of this plan:

I sure wish people would stop using the word “free” regarding these kinds of plans. They aren’t free.  I’ll be paying for them.  You’ll be paying for them.

I think that more concentrated “trade school/technical” type of high schools are better than sending everyone to college.  My guess is that for most people the years spent on college would be better spent on preparing to have a trade. It is a cruel trick to play on the working classes to make them think that EVERYONE is going to profit by merely going to college, as if you can’t better yourself without it.  Only the Left will benefit from everyone going to college, since Leftist/Marxist indoctrination is rife amongst Academicians.

Less people should be going to college.  I’ve been to college.  I have my degree. Want to buy it for $100?  I’ll sell it to you. There is very little that college gave me that I couldn’t have obtained on my own, simply by continuing my life-long love of reading (I was reading by age of five, thanks to my mother’s own love of reading).

As a taxpayer, I don’t want to pay for the education of people when it won’t enhance their life.  I would rather pay for more trade schools and technical skills for people.  And by the way, you can get damn rich by being a carpenter or a plumber or an electrician.

More readers sound off:

I can’t help thinking that, regarding this plan from Obama, he’s getting the issue all wrong.

From my perspective, the problem with higher education in America is that too many people need it more than that too few people get it. As it is already, too many college students either don’t want or don’t need what, at its core, a college education actually (and should) offer: a chance to pursue knowledge for its own sake and engage with thought and ideas simply for the sake of doing so. Few people actually enjoy this or can benefit from it, and yet it is really this experience, not job training or acquisition of marketable skills, that college is meant to provide.

Conversely, colleges are comparatively ill-equipped to provide job skills training, since most faculty members’ primary goal is pursuit of new knowledge (research) rather than teaching. Vocational and trade schools, not colleges, are the proper forum to provide Americans who are looking to get ahead with the skills they need to improve their lives, and yet the president is doubling down on the absurd misuse of colleges and universities that is already so pervasive.

As a student at a prestigious (if I may say so myself) university, I can tell you that most students are not there to engage with ideas and acquire knowledge, but to “check the box” on their way to a lucrative career. Academia is simply not meant to be no-cost employee training for corporations, and it is to the detriment of everyone when it gets used this way. The president ought to be focusing on expanding opportunity for those who either choose not to go to college or cannot afford to do so.

Another skeptical reader:

I have given a lot of thought about this based on my own experience. In my smallish hometown back in the late ’90s, when NAFTA was picking off manufacturing right and left, several of the largest factories closed in a short period of time.  Lots of people took advantage of Trade Adjustment Assistance, which basically allows you to receive unemployment benefits for two years as long as you are in a degree program. The tuition wasn’t included (as I recall), but virtually everyone was eligible for full Pell Grants.

Two years later though, the jobs of the future had not arrived. You just had a glut of people with Associate Degrees competing for jobs that paid less than the ones they lost.  Now the president’s new plan would be aimed at young people who have the option of moving to where the better jobs are. So this is definitely not apples to apples. But it’s still going to be many more Associate Degrees, which will make Bachelor Degrees more sought-after.

And how are these folks who needed the free community college tuition going to pay for that? Student loans. Throw in wage stagnation and a larger share of people with these degrees, and round and round we go.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for more education. For cheaper education. I applaud this as a great start. But we need cheaper higher education and higher wages to really make a difference.

Update: Many readers here correct and counter the ones above.