Should all kids go to college?

Claudia's picture

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation awarded San Francisco $1 million per year for three years to expand programs designed to get students ready for college as well as others focused on keeping them there until they get a degree (  But, are all kids meant to go to college?


Many people would argue "no."  A statewide effort to link learning with student interests and job preparation hopes to lead to higher graduation rates, increased college enrollments, and higher earning potential. Used in schools throughout California, this integrated approach helps students build a strong foundation for success in college and career—and life. Pathways prepare high school students for career and a full range of postsecondary options, including 2– and 4–year college or university, apprenticeships, the military, and formal employment training.  See

ExcelsiorMom's picture

While I fully support

While I fully support programs that encourage and support those interested in college, I do think San Francisco is missing the boat on programs for the non-college bound student.  I know of at least one program that has recently been closed for vocational training.  It is simply a fact that not all people are destined for college.  It isn't the best fit for everyone -- and there is nothing wrong with that.  I think we need to rethink our high school's policy on vocational training.  We need to give our students the best tools for success in the long run. 

I'd like to see more money and more programs for vocational training in our public schools.  Apprenticeship programs are a great way to train our young adults and prepare them for full time employment.  I just hope that we can implement such programs without bias such that only students from certain socioeconomic backgrounds are directed into such programs and excluded from college bound tracts.

bobbyh's picture

In addition....

I agree that not everyone is college-bound, though I think we should encourage those kids as much as possible to pursue that route. But I think inevitably there will be kids that just don't go to college and we should prepare them by honing the tools they will need to make a good living and provide for their families.  Vocational training is an excellent option for those folks, and I would add that we should specifically target certain industries.  The San Francisco Office of Economic Analysis has taken a close look at the fastest growing industries in San Francisco and where our economy is headed while it was preparing the SF Economic Plan (a blueprint for SF economic growth, which the Board still has not yet adopted).  Anyhow, by looking at that report and other industry reports, we should isolate and target the fastest growing industries in our vocational training efforts to make sure we are aligning the skill sets with the jobs available (and what will be available).

Supporting college bound kids is very important, and a key to our knowledge-based local economy, but there are those that don't go to college and we can do a lot to help them be successful as well.

Calum Cameron's picture

Of course University is not

Of course University is not for everybody. There is great value in vocational training for people that do not want to go the college route. After all we need plumbers, builders and electricians more than we need a massive surplus of administrators. However, high levels of higher education attendance is an important indicator of a well functioning and developing society. Therefore it is vital that all people who want to go to college can, regardless of socio-economic background. The ever increasing fees of university in the face of budget cuts is making attendance more and more difficult for more and more people.

As students across UC walk out of classes today, California needs to assess how important education is to the state and how much it can really afford to be cut - there is certainly a price to be paid down the road. 

Other states have some interesting initiatives to help keep higher education from becoming the pastime of the elite. We can learn from ultra-conservative Georgia (once in a while!) where there is something called the Hope Scholarship. Funded by the state lottery, this scholarship pays for the schooling of all students who maintain a B average. This not only allows more people to pursue a college career, but it also gives an incentive for success. We need these sort of solutions to keep the costs of California's education in check.

Phil Ting's picture

All Students Should Have the Opportunity to Go to College

While all students may not go to college, all students who are interested should be given the opportunity to go to college.  SF has a new innovative K to College program which gives every Kindergartner in SF a trust account.

However, I agree with ExcelsiorMom, we have overlooked the importance of vocational education.  On our Ask An Expert segment, Cam Beach mentioned that MUNI has a shortage of mechanics and maintenance workers and its not just in SF but all over the country.  While we should emphasize academics, shutting all the vocational educational programs was a mistake.  We need to be investing in both especially given the needs of both types of workers.

DonRoss's picture

Homegrown vs Immigrant Labor

One of the reasons why California has one of the largest and strongest economies in the world is all of our immigrant labor. Many of the immigrant communities are represented in the trades as well as the service industry - jobs that Americans can do, but many are not able or trained for.

Lick Wilmerding, one of the most prestigious high-schools (private) in the state has one of the best set of class rooms for their students to learn the value of working with their hands through shop classes - it is part of their core requirement.

If we have many hardworking immigrants doing jobs that Americans are not trained for, and we have private schools training their students in vocational trades, why can our public educational system get its act together to offer good, vocational training classes, in partnership with unions and building trades to target industries that are in high demand.

One of my highschool friends learned culinary arts in highschool, and is still a chef to this day. We need to be thinking jobs in demand, and training for those jobs - and yes, all kids are not college bound.



Phil Ting's picture

more relevant and every day curriculum

You bring up a great point.  We should be teaching our children real life skills.  I wish I had taking a cooking class in high school not because I wanted to be a chef but I need to be able to cook for myself and my family.  Additionally, we should take a basic finance course.  Learn about banks, savings and checking accounts as well as investments which are a critical way for us to save money and provide for our family.  We need more courses which we will use in our everyday lives.  Computer courses are critical.  Its hard to get a job if you are not proficient with a computer these days.

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