A Reach School For Every Kid

Didn’t get into Harvard? Well, it is good that you applied.  Research highlighted in a Wall Street Journal article today about the value of a college degree indicates that future economic success may be better predicted by where you apply to college than where you go to college.

The reason – where you aspire to attend college is an indicator of your personal drive, ambition, and desire to learn.  And, at the end of the day, those traits matters more.

In college application parlance, this translates into “having a reach school” – a top college where gaining admission may be unlikely but you want to try anyway.

A “reach school” represents an educational aspiration.  We would learn a lot from a close look at the educational aspirations of the young people in our state.   How many students applied to a “reach school” last year?  How many middle school students can name a college they hope to attend?

For several generations, college was not necessary for a good-paying job in Michigan, influencing our culture and our collective educational aspirations.   The reality is that the high-wage, low-skill jobs no longer remain but remnants of the culture do.  We are below the national average in college attainment and this is hurting our prosperity.

We need to reset our educational aspirations.   Right now, we are working on shifting from “higher education is not necessary” to “higher education is a must”.   But, we should set our own educational aspirations higher.  Our goal should be a reach school for every kid.

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