A Harvard University study cautions against the "one-size-fits-all" approach that emphasizes a four-year degree for successful careers.
Just the opposite, concludes the report by the Pathways to Property Project at Harvard University Graduate School of Education. According to the two-year study, the four-year college model pushing students to earn a bachelor's degree fails to address the needs of today's society.
Researchers said that career-driven alternatives to the four-year college model must be part of the debate on school reform.
"What I fear is the continuing problem of too many kids dropping by the wayside and the other problem of kids going into debt, and going into college but not completing with a degree or certificate," said Robert Schwartz, who heads the project and is academic dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education. "Almost everybody can cite some kid who marched off to college because it was the only socially legitimate thing to do but had no real interest."
According to researchers, only one-third of new job openings in coming years will require a bachelor's degree or higher. About the same amount will require occupational training or an associate's degree from a two-year college.
That should not discourage students from pursuing post-secondary education to prepare for jobs requiring higher levels of skills..
Researchers said students need to be presented with alternatives, such as community colleges and vocational schools.
That model is well established in Northern New York with its four-year public and private colleges, vocational training programs available through BOCES and two-year colleges offering students the opportunity to update their skills or obtain retraining for new career paths.