According to author Charles Murray, high school students who are in the bottom 40% percentile of their classes should not even bother to attend college because college courses are too rigiorous and advanced for such students. Do you agree with this premise?
I absolutely do not agree with this...As soon as we put caps on the ability to learn we take away potential opportunities
I don't, because I've done lots of work (research) on gifted kids and know that a whole lot of kids who underachieve to varying degrees are a whole lot more capable than their grades would indicate (or than would people who believe that grades are the measure of intelligence would believe).
Some of the brightest kids get lost in schools when schools a) don't really know how to effectively teach them, and b) when they under-achieve, get lousy grades, and schools then turn around and deem them to be average or below average (or else believe they're lazy).
I think more and more kids are brighter and brighter than ever before, and I also think more and more kids are being lost in schools (and a lot earlier) than in the past. Of course, it can get murky when extremely bright kids can't concentrate (because they're unhappy), stop paying attention, start missing a lot of the information being taught, and eventually actually have fallen more behind grades-wise.
I don't think this just happens with highly gifted or "plain-old, gifted" kids either. I think, maybe to a lesser degree, it happens with all kids who are either across-the-board above average or else average in some areas but above average in some others.
I don't think the inadequacies/flaws of school systems should follow kids beyond high-school graduation; and I certainly don't think the assessment of schools, based on grades, should stop a kid from having the opportunity of at least starting college and seeing how he does once he's older and out from under whatever went on during his earlier school years.
The kid who discovers, for himself, that college didn't turn out to be right for him is old enough, and familiar enough with his own situation, to deal with it and do the next thing. The kid who is told by others that he "isn't college material and never will be" a) isn't old enough to deal with it, b) may not even know why he's an underachiever, and c) either believes what others tell him about himself or else knows better and believes those who say what he knows is not true aren't people he can count on and trust to properly guide him. Either way, it's the kid who loses.
I think it's reasonable that the kid who has a "weak" GPA not get into SOME colleges/universities, but I think any kid who wants to try to get a college education ought to be able to. What he can do and/or does from there is up to him.
I really appreciate and agree with Lisa's comments. There are a multitude of reasons why a student may not do well in high school, but do quite well in college. Students with less than stellar GPAs should start at a Community College, preferably one that offers decent support services. Don't push yourself or your parents into unmanageable debt by insisting on an expensive or elite college . Its not worth it. Do the first two years at an inexpensive local college, build your skills and your GPA -then transfer to your aspirational or "dream" institution.
Even better, go part-time and work part-time. Or work full time for 1-3 years, saving all you can. Lots of 18 year olds are not ready for college, but in a year or two or three, they will be ready for the challenge, more focused, and perform at a higher level.
By the way we often see the reverse at the University where I work. Students with high GPAs, but miserable SAT or ACT scores. Generally there are two explanations for this. (a) The student attended a poor quality school and had teachers who made it very easy to get good grades with very little effort on the student;s part or (b) The students is a great student and will do well in college, but they have major test anxiety and they bombed the SAT, even though they earned their good grades in high school.
Don't agree. Kids can get into most colleges as long as they pay the exorbitant tuition fees, after which most will be laden with huge debts and either unemployed or underemployed.
The whole SAT, ACT GPA system is pretty pointless anyway.
Even I don't agree. People do have some or other qualities in which they excel. We have many people who were not that good during their school but they are very much successful now, than other brainiacs.
Those opportunities are fundamentally limited due to limited resources and a need to see a benefit from what is invested. Those with lower grades generally do not get into a good university due to limited places (an the link between past and future grade performance). It seem only logical to me that those with lower grades may not be offered a place.
I agree that it's logical and don't necessarily think anyone could/should "let any-old-body" into limited spaces (even in state schools); but my point is about "based on GPA alone" . A kid whose abilities are not reflected in his grades generally shows abilities/potential in other ways (including, sometimes, standardized testing or even surprisingly high SAT's); or else by really excelling in one of the "main" areas while being mediocre or worse in others.
Admission board pretty much have to go by what is documented rather than hope for the best. Otherwise you would take a kid with low grades over one with higher grades, which would be blatantly unfair. Not everyone can get access to everything.
I agree again, but it still goes to the point of the OP's question about telling a kid, based on GPA alone, that he shouldn't even try to go to college. Lots of kids make their way to a four-year degree by starting in a community college. There's a difference between how admissions people select kids and whether people tell kids not to even bother trying to work around the fact that they're going to have trouble being accepted to a lot of schools.
In all likelihood people in the bottom 40% of their class wouldn't get accepted to college, and if they're the kind making straight F's and smoking pot in the parking lot at lunch they probably don't even want to attend. School is simply not for everyone.
But if they want a second chance at education, they can enroll in community college and try to transfer to a four-year school after they prove they can make better grades.
What good does it do for Charles Murray or any of us to muse on the college prospects of under-achieving high school students? We are not them, and what they choose to aspire to is their business, not ours. The diversity of reasons for which they may be under-achieving makes it silly to generalize.
I think the correlation between generally failing grades and eventually failing college is probably very high. So at a population level the advice might be worth considering.
At an individual level anything is possible.
As a lecturer I was prevented from even suggesting a student change their ambitions. But I saw quite a few destroy themselves pursuing ambitions that were blatantly unobtainable while racking up huge debts. Having no degree and a $50,000+ debt is a very horrible outcome.
Those that can over come a bad start should be encouraged as individuals (and, crucially be given access to scholarships that relate to their disadvantage). General advice does not, IMHO, apply too much to those cases.
I personally know several highly educated adults who had low GPAs in HS and were told terrible things by counselors and administrators who should have been fired. These are people with advanced and even doctoral-level degrees who also rose to senior positions in their careers. But they did it all on their own. It's sad they were bored in public schools, but inspiring to know they truly wanted to go to college. They didn't just want to HAVE a degree, they wanted to learn and EARN one.
I see too many students now whose parents are setting the tone for their goals. I also see students who want the paper at the end of the trail, but they want it given to them.
Parents do not do their kids favors by buying them cars the minute they get a license, or putting them up in a condo in college and paying for expensive luxuries. These are the students who take out tens of thousands of dollars in loans to pay for vacations, buy booze on weekends, go to the beach for spring break and get things like $40 pedicures every two weeks (I actually know an example of that).
A person who wants to learn will learn to the best of their ability. College isn't for everyone (despite what we are being told). Many people don't want to do the work involved to get an education. There are many careers that don't require regular degrees, and they're worthy and good callings in life. Those who truly want educations (not just diplomas), will find a way to go as far as they can.
Marcy, I pretty much agree with what you've said (especially the part about college not being for everyone),but I think the student - not someone else - should be the one to decide that. But, I'd add a couple of thoughts. Not all kids can or do learn to the best of their ability. There are kids from disadvantage situations of all sorts who have every bit as much, sometimes more, ability as those from better situations. They want to learn but can't, because if they're worried about other stuff going on in their life; or if they're dealing with, say, parents who make their overall life stressful; sometimes they can't learn one thing or another at one time or another. As a result, their grades suffer. A kid may be able to pick up some things in school but not be able to concentrate on other types of information. (Elevated cortisol levels and other stress-related goings-on actually affect a person's ability to concentrate). It's not just concentrating, though. Kids from severely disadvantaged homes have all kinds of things they deal with. So do kids from neighborhoods that aren't particularly conducive to making a kid feel safe. When kids haven't eaten, or are worried about whether they'll be enough to eat at home; learning is hurt.
The kid who has been hurt by a parents' divorce when, maybe, the less-than-skilled/close parent gets custody may not be worried about money-related stuff, but may be living in grief at being separated from the parent with whom he was closest. Serious grief can take years for someone to get over, and a few years of secondary-school in grief will take its toll. I've known more than one kid who comes from a bad situation and who is every bit as smart as other more advantage kids I've known. The difference has been either that the kid from the disadvantaged situation displayed almost identical ability but not identical academic accomplishment.
Then there are kids like on my sons (the one who is adopted), who tested years ahead in ability as a young child; but who was "oddly tense" in school (and to the point where he had information in his head but didn't demonstrate that in his grades). He was adopted from infancy and had every advantage (some additional ones in some ways) as the two children I had myself (who stayed well ahead of peers in school and did go to college).
Throughout his school years my eldest son taught himself all kinds of things and improved his own reading skills on his own, at home. As soon as he'd hit school he'd tense up. I've since learned that babies who aren't made to feel secure in their earliest months may end up having their stress-response system "wired" to be over-sensitive. My son was an infant when I got him, but he'd gotten off to a rough start and spent some time in a hospital. One might ask why college would have been any different from earlier school years. The answer is this was a problem in his earliest school years, his early secondary years were then affected by it; but by the time he was in his late teens his confidence had grown with him. My bright boy who tested like a 7 year old when he was 4 was told in third grade that he should "plan to work with his hands". He was in second grade when one teacher made a remark about how if one or another thing happened in his program, "once and for all he'd see success in his life". This little boy had all kinds of success in his life (and even with grades on non-reading-related subjects). He just didn't have success in reading-related things). As I said, he'd end up teaching himself to read (and read physics books and medical text books) by the time he was in his late teens. It was too late for him, though, as far as college went.
The fact is by the time my son was in high school he had lost enough ground grades-wise that - really - he had some catching up to do. It would be unrealistic to think, after all that had gone with him, that he could get into a 4-year school. The POINT is, though (and separate from that fact), that it was the school that decided he didn't have any ability, that directed its efforts at him based on that, and that eventually actually created a self-fulfilling prophecy. (One teacher actually told me he'd be illiterate.)
Some kids are fortunate enough to have mothers who'll keep trying to make up for what can go on in schools (and it wasn't the school's fault my son was more nervous than most kids; but it was their fault they interpreted his concentration problems as lack of ability). Some kids don't have that kind of mother/parents. Some have only themselves and outside world (school) when it comes to figuring out if they have potential to get a degree or more. The kid who doesn't have support and encouragement from either home or school is completely and utterly alone as he grows up, makes his way to whatever sense of self-esteem he has, and tries to learn in a world that doesn't even seem to know he exists.
Yes, the world is full of people who ended up with thousands of dollars in student loans and no degree; but I think the loans issue is a whole separate problem, and not reason for schools to tell kids they shouldn't even think about trying to get a 4-year degree.
I had my son tested more than once (and outside the school). They saw the results in black-and-white. Besides, his father and I and others could see his abilities at home and elsewhere. The school not only accused me of being "un-objective", but they noted, "Sure. You can pay anyone to test him and give you the results you want." (!!!) (As if a caring, normal, mother would not want accurate test results for her child!!) No, they had it in their heads that "grades equal ability/end of story" and they weren't about to consider anything else.
I disagree with Murray's premises. Just because a kid is in the bottom percentile of his high school class doesn't mean that he or she is able to attend college. When I went to school, there were a number of kids who were lazy and didn't apply themselves; therefore, they got average to poor grades. When these kids took standardized tests and aptitude tests, many did very well. I think there is too much emphasis on grades for getting into college. Getting into college should be based more on students' aptitudes in reading and writing and math.
Lisa - I agree with you, and I don't think I expressed myself well (or thoroughly). In my mind, I was thinking of kids from all backgrounds who persist, no matter what their obstacles are. I believe those kids (I was mostly thinking of young adults) will succeed at some level simply due to their innate survival skills and ability to endure. It would be far better for those with challenges to be given help and support, though, and absolutely, se know there are kids who fall through the cracks.
My thoughts were about college-aged kids who are propelled into a degree program and have a lot of breaks, and many could care less about the overall goal, because it's another 4-6 years of a free ticket. Often, they're mediocre students, but because mom & dad (or someone) pushed them along, they get the diploma after four years. And have tins of loans, and now we see grads whining because they're under water with loan debt. I often wonder what sort of 'live within your means' concept they had when the loans paid for pretty cushy lives. I'm saying this because I worked all through school and supported my two kids, too (I was divorced quite young).
I think we were talking about two separate populations. Very young kids with challenges, and older, 'young aduly' kids who may or may not have been given support when they grew up. I was trying to point out that not all kids with the silver spoons are good academic material, and not all kids who were told they weren't college material end up washed out of school. But it takes real grit for those kids (the ones who weren't given any breaks) to overcome it.
I probably still didn't express myself well. I think we agree on a lot - and one reason I commented here to begin with was your very thoughtful and well-stated points.
Oh sheesh! I hope you can decipher through the mobile device typos here! We know, not se know. Tons of loans, not tins. Although maybe they keep the loans in tins. So sorry!
Hey - I've been on HubPages for quite awhile now. I'm pretty used to reading through a whole lot of typos - and worse. (Can't help smiling at the interesting word, "aduly", though. )
I think we do agree on a lot. In fact, a lot of people agree on a lot when it comes to kids and education. My head doesn't tend to run much in silver-spoons kind of thinking, though; because I've always lived pretty much around people who live in "stainless spoons" land. (but I've know my share of people who live in/come from "plastic spoons" land too.
Well, I'm from the Melmac era and neighborhood (although I did finally acquire breakable dishes after many years!). However, I worked at a major university for a while, and I teach at a smaller one now. I've seen kids who were spoiled all the way through school and lived a really high lifestyle through loans and/or through mom & dad sending them off in a car they provided to live in a condo they paid for.
In my classes, I've seen students who expect you to pass them, no matter what. I gave a fair but low grade to one student who wrote horrible essays and term papers. I'd tried to work with her on it, but she didn't care to address it. My classes require a lot of writing. She was furious because "I" was hurting her GPA!
I am a college student and I see this in some of my fellow students. It's as if some of them feel entitled to various things just for showing up. When they realize they will never put forth the effort required to get grades such as 4.0 or above (through extra credit work) they become "haters" of those that do put forth the effort. And when the bills come due, I hope they are able to get a great paying job to take care of it, but that doesn't seem likely with all the partying/socializing they do to the detriment of their own growth as an adult and student.
That is total bull. Really- don't let anyone think that you're not good enough to do what you want to do. I honestly believe if an individual wants to go to college and do well- they truly want it, and work hard- they can do it. No doubt in my mind
I think the student themselves should decide that. I knew a couple of bright kids who were seeing horrific abuse at home and the elder sister once had been attacked by her father with an axe. The verbal and physical was ongoing and of course their grades and mental health suffered. They didn't talk about this until they were grown and away from their parents but it explained a lot! This is just one (extreme) example but there are many reasons that kids grades suffer in high school. Yes, often it is by the bad choices of the student, but sometimes it's not.
I am a senior, graduating high school in three weeks. Definitely more than 60% of my school's graduating class is attending college in the fall, and and most of us are attending some kind of community college or state college. I think that everybody should receive some kind of higher education after high school. However, I don't think that college is the way to go for many people. People who are academic and want to enter into some kind of scholarly field: ex: science, engineering, business should go to college. However, more people should consider vocational schools. My school almost always stresses attending conventional college more than trade school, but it seems that especially in these difficult economic times, people who know they are not academic should seriously consider skilled trade instead of going to a community college and doing poorly.
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