November 10, 2008

Should Kids Go To College Early?

Oh my God, does no one see this for the scam that it is?

The worst idea in the history of education, other than making "Health" a requirement:

New Hampshire announces plans for a set of state board exams for 10th graders-- think the French Bacc-- which would allow those who want to to graduate high school two years early and go on to technical, community or regular college. 

Those who want to may still follow a traditional 12th grade curriculum, and then go onto college.

Right now, Tucker argues, most American teenagers slide through high school, viewing it as a mandatory pit stop to hang out and socialize. Of those who do go to college, half attend community college. So Tucker's thinking is why not let them get started earlier?
1. New Hampshire is too far for me to go and start punching people.

2. Let me understand: high school is mostly pointless, so the solution you've come up with is not to improve it, but to graduate them faster. 

If you think there's an education gap between rich and poor kids now, wait until this passes.  You think rich kids will-- will be allowed to-- do this?  This is for poor kids, bored, disinterested and looking to get out, and it legitimizes it, depriving them of two years of high school.  

3.  This is Bizarro Robin Hood, this is a massive transfer of wealth from individuals to the state.  Think about the type of kid who would leave high school after 10th grade and aactually go on to college.  Is he going to Harvard?  No, he's going to a state school.  Do you think an at-best average student, with two years less high school, is going to finish college in four?  So here we have a system where a kid is going to leave a free school to go to a college he has to pay for, for longer.  The state saves two years on high school-- $60 billion, nationally-- and gets an extra year out of the college tuition.

I don't need to point out that tuition is going up, faster than the inflation rate?  Especially at state schools?

These people don't care about students, they care about themselves.  That's why they want to remove teacher accountability.  Why, in bold red 20pt font in the sidebar of the report is the description of how, with all the money they'll save, they can pay teachers up to $110k a year.

4.  Don't tell me it will reduce dropout rates-- that's a scam, too.  They've simply been graduated.

5.  Reducing the number of years in school is actually a great idea, but you're reducing the wrong years.  If they really wanted to help "Improve The Skills Of The American Workforce"-- see?  that's what they think of you, what they think high school education is for-- then they should try to find a way to make high school so good that you need less college.  But where's the money in that?

A real solution would be to cut college down to 2 years.  Or even zero: straight to professional school or work.  College is reducing our country's productivity and infantilizing young adults.  Hi.  Is this thing on?


The Graying of Kindergarten series
The Dumbest Generation Is Only The Second Dumbest Generation


i suppose you make some goo... (Below threshold)

November 10, 2008 11:20 AM | Posted by the0ther: | Reply

i suppose you make some good points here. even though, i have been saying for a long time now that we ought to just eliminate high school or offer different tracks for different students.

i just want to get the worst kids out of there and allow the ones who are making an effort a chance to succeed. i like how you say "eliminate college and make high school something that substitutes for it." that seems like the best aim here.

but...can you really say that paying teachers a better salary is a bad idea? are you kidding me?!? they are terribly terribly underpaid right now.

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Seems to me like NH is tryi... (Below threshold)

November 10, 2008 11:42 AM | Posted by TheOtherOne: | Reply

Seems to me like NH is trying to get out of what other states do - set up a program that allows kids who meet certain academic standards to attend college (or college classes) while still in high school *on the state's dime*.

A properly set-up program can allow a driven kid to get in a year of community college (or local state university) without having to pay the tuition. They get a year's head start on graduating, and significantly reduce the cost to get the education.

But this "you can leave high school! Isn't that great! You can go to college if only you can find a way to pay for it!" is a really lousy idea.

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Interesting points. I bypas... (Below threshold)

November 10, 2008 1:11 PM | Posted by thatguy: | Reply

Interesting points. I bypassed high school myself and went to community college, followed by a state university.

By most measures i've been a success in the 20 years since then. My choice to "skip" HS was due to family issues rather than intelligence.

I agree that if the defined problem is that HS is too easy, then the solution should be to improve HS, not orchestrate its omission.

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A scam, sure. But our whol... (Below threshold)

November 10, 2008 2:41 PM | Posted by Ed: | Reply

A scam, sure. But our whole concept of modern schooling is a scam. Look deeper. Start with John Taylor Gatto.

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I was started early in scho... (Below threshold)

November 10, 2008 3:40 PM | Posted by Ran: | Reply

I was started early in school due to my birthdate, and it was even suggested that I skip a couple of grades early on, but my parents made the decision not to. It would have saved them a bit of money, sure, but I was already one of the youngest in my year. Skipping even more grades would have been akin to throwing a guppy in with the sharks. :-/

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"those who want to to gradu... (Below threshold)

November 10, 2008 3:42 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

"those who want to to graduate high school two years early"

I hope they're taught that they graduate _from_ high school. They need to learn grammar.

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I graduated high school wit... (Below threshold)

November 10, 2008 5:29 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

I graduated high school with enough AP credits to count for a year and a half of college. I'm on track to graduate either on time or a semester early- but with a double degree (and a minor, for kicks). If I had focused on just my primary major, I would have been out after 5 semesters and applying to grad school.

So, I'd be one of the people that this could have worked out well for. But would I (or, realistically, my parents, since I would have been *15* at the time to make this decision) have taken it? Probably not- those AP credits only cost me $80 a test to take the tests (so a total of about a thousand dollars), compared to around $24,000 to take the year and a half at my cheap state school (I'm not paying that much because of scholarships, but that's a side issue). Besides, while I might have adapted well to living alone at 16, I probably would have stayed at home and commuted, which would have cut short a lot of the valuable autonomy that I've gotten so far.

But you're totally right that this is "Well, if you hate it so much here, just leave" instead of "Look! You get to go to college! Isn't that great!" There are some reasons to have kids go to trade schools instead of trying to turn every high school into both a college prep school and a trade school... but that's a reason to have school vouchers and smaller schools.

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Some good points, but you d... (Below threshold)

November 10, 2008 6:18 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Some good points, but you don't mention one obvious one to me.   If the intent is to save money by reducing teachers/classes, then which classes will be cut?   Since the point is to encourage students to go to college early, then why should the high school duplicate college courses?   Thanks to AP credit, I graduated college a semester early (single major only, though), saving (and earning) a significant amount of money.   You say that it'll be poor kids who would leave early, but I wonder if it won't be the reverse:  the high schools start dropping their AP and college-level classes to save money, so the students who have the money go to college early.

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No, I'm saying that if y... (Below threshold)

November 11, 2008 12:53 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Alone: | Reply

No, I'm saying that if you want to shorten the sixteen years of high school and college, you should take it out of college, if for no other reason than that's the one you have to pay for. Sure, really smart kids might bail out of high school early to go to college. But these same smart kids, if offered the prospect of graduating college early (because of AP) might stick around for that. But that's a small number of kids either way. The majority of kids who "graduate" at tenth grade will be kids who simply don't want an 11th or 12th grade.

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holy crap, that needs to be... (Below threshold)

November 11, 2008 2:05 AM | Posted, in reply to Ed's comment, by Bryon: | Reply

holy crap, that needs to be made into a feature film or something.

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Wait, they did, its called ... (Below threshold)

November 11, 2008 2:16 AM | Posted, in reply to Bryon's comment, by Bryon: | Reply

Wait, they did, its called A Scanner Darkly.

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Yeah, a couple of friends a... (Below threshold)

November 11, 2008 11:28 AM | Posted by fraise: | Reply

Yeah, a couple of friends and I stayed in high school (could have gone into USC's early acceptance program) specifically because of AP courses. Heck, fifteen years ago I earned two years of college tuition for 150 bucks. AP French, English and Calculus + one French evaluation test at my university = 2 years of university French, 1 year of otherwise-required English, and 1 year of higher math. (I got my French degree in two years, but spent a third year in an overseas exchange program for the experience). Talk about a good deal.

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"Talk about a good deal."<b... (Below threshold)

November 13, 2008 8:53 AM | Posted by MedsVsTherapy: | Reply

"Talk about a good deal."
in French, no less.

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In college there are severa... (Below threshold)

November 14, 2008 2:27 PM | Posted by Another Person: | Reply

In college there are several breeds of student. The largest breed of student is the student who is there for a degree, which hopefully they at least finds interesting, but regardless has no intent of actually working in the field of what they are studying. In my experience, this attitude is actively promoted by the university with little regard to the fact that they are collecting students money while providing them with little relevant experience for what ever it is the student will end up doing in life.

I should add at this point that students need not necessarily do exactly what it is they studied in college, and that some disciplines like math or philosophy can provided a valuable learning experience even if they are not directly related to whatever the student ends up doing in life. For example, having a background in any either of the above mentioned disciplines would definitely give students better preparation for law school. None the less, there are also a number of "at least its a major" majors which universities often go to great lengths to promote, sometimes mentioning the number of famous people with those majors, regardless of the fact that said individuals succeed despite their major, not because of it.

There also exists the students there for career training. Often these degrees are of dubious usefulness such as "beverage management", though there certainly are students, such as nursing students, who are actually learning relevant skills.

Finally there is the smallest group of students, which is at college because they actually want to become a professional in the field that they are studying, or a field related to it. This category, as far as I can tell, is more common in the science and engineering disciplines, though obviously also includes students looking to become an expert any field. This group could benefit from starting college earlier, seeing as it gives them a head start in their discipline. Even if highschools were better, students would benefit by having access more more classes that high schools are able to offer. Granted this is a small percentage of students, but on the other hand they will make up an important portion of society.

There is the argument that students need to have a wider breadth of knowledge to be more rounded individuals. I would not necessarily disagree except to say that there is no rush. People have all the time in the world to become cultured, but on the other hand preventing students from learning what the are interested in as soon as possible is wasted motivation. Unless a student is motivated by the subject matter they are not going to get any benefit from taking classes in literature or history anyway. Yes the student will need to develop basic writing skills, be able to to do simple mathematics, and be able to construct an solid argument, however students are going to do much better developing those skills if they are using them in a manner which they find interesting and productive. Being able to churn out a bunch of 5 paragraph essays and being a good writer are two different things entirely.

As things are, it is already possible for students to start college early in many cases, and educators should not be encouraging students to start college before they are ready. None the less, there is an attitude which seems to be prevalent among high schoolers and high school educators alike which is that the first 18 years of your life are useless anyway, so the only thing they should be put towards is doing whatever it takes to have a good looking college application. (the same applies, to a degree to college educators and students)

-Disclaimer: Some of my arguement is based on my experience as a student, and what I have seen as other students experiences. I do not claim to speak for all students.

Also see: What you'll wish you'd known for a better idea of what bothers me about highschool.

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As a matter of interest, I'... (Below threshold)

November 19, 2008 2:34 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

As a matter of interest, I'd suggest taking a look at the website for Bard College at Simon's Rock. It's a highly regarded early college designed specifically for students to enter after completing 10th or 11th grade.

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Freeing students from a dep... (Below threshold)

November 19, 2008 2:41 PM | Posted by Gannon Beck: | Reply

Freeing students from a dependence on the university system is key to academic involvement at the public education level. Elevating the university system's importance will only worsen the problem for those who cannot attend.

This is a solvable problem. Those students who have taken tests for college through their AP programs are already stumbling upon the solution. It just needs to be developed further. I've written an essay about it if anyone is interested:

Another person's comment that "[e]ven if highschools were better, students would benefit by having access more more classes that high schools are able to offer." could be solved as well with the approach I'm recommending.

The solution, in a nut shell, is third party credentialing based on examination, coupled with using technology to preserve quality instruction at the public education level to create a first-class, free online university funded by dollars we're already spending.

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I am a first year science t... (Below threshold)

November 22, 2008 8:34 PM | Posted by GMH: | Reply

I am a first year science teacher in a California High School and am appalled by what I see. To level the playing field, most vocational programs have been eliminated so everyone can be prepped to go to college. Also to level the playing field students are not segregated by demonstrated ability. The slow students often have behavior problems so disrupt classroom learning and shout out when they don't understand (which is all the time), so the class slows down to the speed of the slowest learner. "No Child Left Behind" means the WHOLE SYSTEM slows to the speed of the slowest learner. It's a challenge to supplement the smart kids and it happens mostly with extra credit worksheets because the teachers' efforts go towards explaining over and over again the basic concepts (Photosynthesis, by the way is ONE thing that green plants do and the other is that they also breathe, inhaling oxygen and exhaling carbon dioxide, but there is a net accumulation of carbon in the plants). I'd WANT my smartest kids out of here so their brain does not sit in idle an extra 2 years.

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My son is 15 and will be 16... (Below threshold)

November 25, 2008 10:21 AM | Posted by Melissa: | Reply

My son is 15 and will be 16 next month. He hates going to high school. He makes A's and B's and takes mostly advanced courses. Yesterday morning He just simply did not want to go. I told him that he had too in order to keep his grades up. On the drive to school, I suggested to him that if he didn't want to go to high school any more, he should consider getting his GED, apply for financial aid in the spring, take the semester off and start at the community college in the fall. He was shocked. He said "I can do that?"

You betcha. The university here has a 100 percent transfer rate from the community college as well. It is a pretty accredited school and a degree from there is nothing to sneeze at. The university's president just announced this summer that tuition is waived for all students who make under 60,000 dollars a year. I say get in while the gettin' is good. I sure plan on it.

He already has a job. His maturity level is higher than his age. All the people he knows and hangs out with are older. I told him there is no point sitting around another 2 years in a high school surrounded by people you can't relate with and teacher/faculty rules and regulations that doesn't apply to you anymore.

He still wants to play football. I suggested asking his coach about still being able to play. I already know the answer but it doesn't hurt to ask. I also told him that the community college here has another branch about 60 miles away that has a football team and campus dorms. He has choices.

The coach told him that a GED is not as good as a high school diploma and some jobs won't hire you because of it. I found that answer to be entirely false and unwarranted.

First of all, I have a GED and I never had a problem getting a job. At one point I even made more that most teachers who went to college for 4 years.

Secondly, what kind of jobs are we talking about here? Minimum wage jobs? Hello? Those are everywhere. So one McDonald's doesn't hire you because of a GED. Go down the street to the next one. like I said before he already has a job.

Third, A GED IS a high school diploma. Where people pull that answer from, I will never know.

Four. By the time he is 18, he will have his AA or AS, if not both. What kind of high school diploma he has WILL NOT MATTER.
By the time he finishes at the university, it really won't matter.

I would have never suggested it to him if I didn't think he would do it. I know he will.

People say college isn't for everyone. I think it is the other way around. I think high school isn't for everyone. In college you get to make choices, be a adult and get treated like one.

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I actually know one young w... (Below threshold)

December 2, 2008 10:08 AM | Posted by La BellaDonna: | Reply

I actually know one young woman from New Hampshire who did exactly that - left high school early to start college. She managed to do that, having just barely met the requirements to do so, and found that the school she chose wasn't for her. She dropped out, and wound up in Washington where she works as, essentially, a lobbyist for a special interest group. Ironically (well, it's ironic to ME)she's also making more money than I am after high school, college, and more than thirty years in the workforce. She may not have finished either high school or college, but she certainly learned something in New Hampshire that served her along the way.

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wow, this guy obviously kno... (Below threshold)

December 10, 2008 9:48 PM | Posted by susie: | Reply

wow, this guy obviously knows nothing about this. Everyone I know that began college early benefitted from it in more ways than one. I knew a girl that got her GED at 16 (she was an advanced student) and shes now at Cal Tech. Ive taken AP classes in high school and let me say its much more difficult than just taking the classes at a community college. High school is a buffer where all you do is spend ALL Day there and chit chat. If youre working that hard and in AP courses trying to get college credit, why not just start college?I wish I did. Skipping a grade early on (in elementary school) may not be for everyone, but if youre kids not smaller than the other kids by a lot and is confident then why not? It's only one grade. Do you really rememeber what the difference was from what you learned in 1st to 2nd grade? Its so easy to teach your kid a second grade curriculum from home when theyre in 1st grade , then go straight to 3rd. Finish early, make more money early, be the youngest with the most..sounds good to me!

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and whats wrong with a stat... (Below threshold)

December 10, 2008 9:48 PM | Posted by susie: | Reply

and whats wrong with a state school?hmmm???

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oh yeah, and if you read St... (Below threshold)

December 10, 2008 9:52 PM | Posted by susie : | Reply

oh yeah, and if you read Steven Chu Nobel Prize for Physics speak about his siblings..he has a brother that didnt get a high school diploma traditionally as well but finished his Ph.D at 21 then went on to HARVARD LAW SCHOOL. SO YEAH, I GUESS YOU CAAN GO TO HARVARD. DOH!

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"The coach told him that a ... (Below threshold)

December 10, 2008 10:02 PM | Posted by susie: | Reply

"The coach told him that a GED is not as good as a high school diploma and some jobs won't hire you because of it. I found that answer to be entirely false and unwarranted."

Why would the coach say that? what type of job can you possibly get with a high school diploma anyway???
It either minimum wage and they dont ask for a diploma or you need a B.A.

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I already graduated at 15 a... (Below threshold)

December 21, 2008 4:12 PM | Posted by mmstick: | Reply

I already graduated at 15 and for certain reasons you may not be aware of. I'm wasting my LIFE! I have autism (aspergers so in other words my IQ reaches 131+) and High School is pointless.... I was ready to go to college 3 years before. I'm not learning anything.... I'm just sitting there in fear every day wasting my brain.

I even did my mothers essays when she was in college and they were so good that her teacher recommended her to enter some writing contests....

However now that I have graduated early I can't really find an online college.....

All I get everywhere I go is no response or some I'm sorry message.....

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California already offers s... (Below threshold)

December 27, 2008 11:14 PM | Posted by John: | Reply

California already offers something like this. There is a test called the CHSPE that you can take to leave high school early for college. Not many people know about it, but I learned about it last year and took it. Currently I'm attending a local community college and planning to transfer in a year or so.

I don't think you can expect high schools to improve just by telling them to. Their structure is totally different: much more pointless work, much less student freedom, many more dissatisfied students. Plus what could be wrong with giving kids more options? Even if high schools are on track to improve eventually, this should be allowed until those improvements arrive.

Your arguments about state finances amount to an ad hominem: You're saying that because the state government stands to gain financially from the proposal, it shouldn't be implemented. WTF?

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I disagree that rich kids w... (Below threshold)

January 4, 2009 2:56 AM | Posted by Mike Elias: | Reply

I disagree that rich kids wouldn't be allowed and poor kids would be all over it. If it's anything like the French "Bacc" it will be tough, and require kids to actually gain the knowledge that other kids may take 4 years to work through. I'm 19, so high school is not a distant memory for me. I went to two different above average public schools in Pennsylvania and California, and graduated with a 4.0 without undue effort. I'm reminded of the words of Steve Pavlina, the successful blogger who graduated college in 3 semesters: "Just because everybody else goes at a snail's pace, doesn't mean you have to." I predict rich kids will do this more than poor kids because their ambitious parents will push them, and their rich-kid genes may be more academically inclined than those of poor kids. As for poor kids who'd do this just to graduate early, I suspect that the kind of student who wishes to drop out wouldn't have the ambition to do what it takes to graduate early.

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@Susie: You can certainly g... (Below threshold)

January 5, 2009 10:51 AM | Posted by La BellaDonna: | Reply

@Susie: You can certainly get a secretarial job with a high school diploma. In some offices, there may be the opportunity to rise to other levels; in law offices, at least the chance to accrue seniority (generally worthless, in my experience, but at least with the prospect of yearly raises). I know quite a few secretaries, ranging from adequate to quite good, who have had only a high school education. I knew one tough cookie who had her GED, and was quite a good secretary.

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One acknowledges that today... (Below threshold)

September 19, 2010 7:39 PM | Posted by MayraNORRIS35: | Reply

One acknowledges that today's life seems to be high priced, nevertheless some people require cash for various issues and not every person earns big sums cash. Thus to receive good mortgage loans or car loan would be a right solution.

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I have been a single parent... (Below threshold)

February 11, 2011 10:26 AM | Posted by Adams: | Reply

I have been a single parent for many years, thus not wealthy. My daughter has scored in the top 9% on her SAT test. She is very bored in regular high school and fed up with all of the negative behaviors around her. At least if she went to college, she could commute and just focus on her work and be around people who are serious about their education.

I am all for students going to college early. It isn't always about wealth. I teach in a title 1 school and there are very intellegent children. I am sure they would thrive even more if there was more money at home, but these children are very intellegent regardless.

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This is probably not what m... (Below threshold)

June 18, 2012 11:28 PM | Posted by Ann Wadal: | Reply

This is probably not what most parents want to hear, but I recommend against starting college early. My parents, with the very best of intentions, had me start several years early. In addition to first hand experience, I have a degree in psychology and I also worked as a counselor for an early college program for many years. Again and again I saw the pattern repeat. Parents are enthused by their child's academic intelligence, and so they rush them to grow up, forgetting about the importance of social intelligence and maturation. What the child actually goes through is they miss out on important high school and teenage learning experiences, but also the child never gets to have a normal college life either, which is an important part of early adulthood. Other college students think of them as dorky kids, so college is an isolating miserable experience. Please, no matter how smart your child is, don't rob them of their teen years. They need the experience of learning to be confident, despite the click cheer leaders or football jocks. They need to have their first crush and first kiss with a teenage boy, not a college adult male preying on young innocent lonely girls. They need to attend school dances, run for class office, and find out how to get along and communicate with people who are not as academically gifted as they, but with whom they can become friends. These things aren't taught in text books, they are learned in life in these critical years. If you skip your child past them, they pay a painful emotional price for many years to come. Slow down, enjoy this time with your teenager. Guide them through the challenging yet learning filled years of high school with love and patience. So they get A's the whole time, GREAT! They can focus on the soft skills, making friends, arts, debate, community volunteerism, politics, whatever their interest. They will find a voice that is their own, not just a reflection of what they think you want to hear. They will find passions and loves that could lead them to careers born from their hearts, not from your expectations of them. They will find that being smart, is not everything to life, but it is a gift they can learn to put to use to propel their future while still living a life they love.

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Education is very important... (Below threshold)

March 5, 2015 7:27 AM | Posted by Charles K: | Reply

Education is very important and parents should aware children or kids about the importance of education so that they take it as proper learning to improvise their future rather than punishment. Online education has further simplified the means of earning education by introducing accredited online programs like accredited online degree, online doctorate and online life experience degree.

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