Costco Connection’s “Is College Worth It?”

10 Apr

There has been a recent debate on the Internet and in the media that college is a waste of time.  There is some truth to that.

However, that is also wrong.

Costco ran a piece in the April 2011 Costco Connection that’s worth mentioning, and I agree with Dr. Richard Vedder, who said “NO”!

Richard Vedder is a Distinguished Professor of Economics at Ohio University and is the author of Going Broke by Degree: Why College Costs too Much.

I taught for thirty years in California’s public schools.  I started out teaching in fifth grade then substitute taught for a few years before moving up to middle school for ten.

I finished the last sixteen at Nogales High School in La Puente, California where I taught mostly English with seven years teaching one journalism class in addition to four English sections and ended by teaching reading to students far below grade level the last two years.

I asked two questions of my students annually for most of those thirty years.

I. How many of you eat breakfast?

2. How many plan to go to college?

For eating breakfast, about eight percent said yes but what they ate wasn’t that nutritious. More than 90% did not eat anything and most of them admitted that the first drink or food consumed each school day was a sugary soda, candy and/or a huge bag of greasy French fries.

The school also sold pizza slices dripping with cheese at lunch. For three thousands students, one large bowl of fruit was available.

For the second question, 97% said yes, they planned to go to college.

Yet, only 5% turned in homework on a regular basis.  Most did not study for quizzes or tests.  The failure rate often approached half of the students I taught. Most did not read outside of class (even though they were told to read daily) and many did not read in class.

Most of the students at the high school where I taught read below grade level and had no qualms saying they hated to read.

However, they were proud to say they were going to college.

A few years before I left teaching, I attended a workshop at CSU Cal Poly Pomona, where I earned my multiple-subject, life teaching credential in 1975-76.

At that meeting, there were English teachers from the high schools that fed students into CSU Cal Poly.

We were told that 60% of high school graduates entering Cal Poly as freshman could not understand nor do college level work and had to take “Bonehead English” classes to catch up.

At the time, there were five levels of “Bonehead English” (the lowest one was equal to 8th grade English) at CSU Cal Poly.

None of these “bonehead English” classes counted toward college graduation.

That’s why I agree with Dr.Vedder that college is not worth it for everyone.

Vedder said, “Students with excellent high school grades and college-entry test scores have a lower risk of failure and thus many should pursue a four-year degree. Students with poor high school grades and/or test scores have a higher probability of dropping out and or being unable to get a good job even if they are successful in graduating.”

Discover Educating Children is a Partnership


Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

His third book is Crazy is Normal, a classroom exposé, a memoir. “Lofthouse presents us with grungy classrooms, kids who don’t want to be in school, and the consequences of growing up in a hardscrabble world. While some parents support his efforts, many sabotage them—and isolated administrators make the work of Lofthouse and his peers even more difficult.” – Bruce Reeves

Lofthouse’s first novel was the award winning historical fiction My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. His second novel was the award winning thriller Running with the Enemy. His short story A Night at the “Well of Purity” was named a finalist of the 2007 Chicago Literary Awards. His wife is Anchee Min, the international, best-selling, award winning author of Red Azalea, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year (1992).

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2 responses to “Costco Connection’s “Is College Worth It?”

  1. Trident Online College

    April 1, 2012 at 14:03

    Students get out of college exactly what they put into it. A student who goes the extra mile to take challenging classes and do the work will get a lot more out of it than one who is more focused on the college lifestyle.It all depends on the individual student and what his or her objectives are. If a student refuses to read on their own, do homework or study then college makes no sense.


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