Head to Head: Schools should encourage all students to attend college

By Sophie Rivard

While college may not be for everyone, students should still be encouraged to attend post-secondary institutions. It is imperative that high schools continue to create programs that urge students to attend four-year colleges because the consequences of not doing so could be detrimental for students.

If high schools discontinue programs encouraging students to attend college on the basis that it is not for everyone, it could greatly limit student potential. The implementation of a program that does not encourage college for every student would inevitably lead to tracking, or the practice of designating students for different educational paths based on their academic performance as a modern day form of segregation.

Tracking would create discrepancies and limit the support for students who may need extra help getting accepted to colleges and universities. These programs are not to force all students to attend college; rather they are created to give students with dreams of attending a college or university needed support to reach that goal.

Encouraging students to attend higher educational institutions will positively impact the economy. Graduates with four-year degrees earn more than those with associate, two-year degrees. A study from 2014 by two New York Federal Reserve Bank economists found that bachelor’s degree holders earn 42 percent more, on average, than associate’s degree holders.

The study also found that this is why, despite raising tuition costs for four-year colleges, earning a degree from these schools remains a worthwhile investment. Data from U.S. workers show that the benefits of college outweigh the costs of attending, measured as tuition plus wages lost while attending school. An individual student should decide the right path, and high schools should help students obtain a degree that will enable them to be more successful.

Even for students who may not be interested in attending college because their intended career path does not require a degree, obtaining a degree in another field could serve them well, regardless. A study by the Penn State Division of Undergraduate Studies in 2013 found that over 50 percent of college students change their majors at least once, so students questioning their career path can benefit from the environment that allows the exploration of other fields.

While many argue that high schools should not encourage students to attend universities due to high tuition costs that make higher education inaccessible for many, this is exactly why college preparation programs within high schools are a necessity.

These college preparation programs also educate students on scholarships and incentivize them to apply for them. Many students who are unsure of how to pay for college may assume they could never make it to a four-year college because of financial limitations. However, programs that focus preparing students for college provide students with resources while emphasizing college’s accessibility for everyone.

If we shift to programs that do not focus on this message, we will see the manifestation of a self-fulfilling prophecy. Students who do not believe in their ability to succeed in a college setting will continue to feel this way and never make an effort to receive resources that could change their lives for the better. High tuition is certainly an issue that needs to be addressed, but college can be a realistic goal for everyone, regardless of their socioeconomic status, if high schools help their students.

While the goal of college preparation within high schools today is already focused on students attending four-year colleges, this is a positive program that will continue to help teenagers. A college degree leads to more financial opportunities and can transform the a child’s future. These programs should continue within high schools because they help students achieve the best futures possible.