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Politics

College isn't the only way to achieve the American dream

Esther J. Cepeda on

Is it the roiling social unrest on campuses? Or the fact that, as studies seem to show, even students at elite institutions are graduating with no better critical thinking skills than they came in with?

Most likely is that the college-for-all push has led to a dearth of viable alternatives for those who simply do not want to start their adult lives with more, expensive schooling -- even if it's likely to increase lifetime earnings.

While college is an important and desirable rite of passage for many, policymakers must pay more attention to the segment of the population that is looking for different pathways into the middle class.

As Microsoft President Brad Smith said recently during an announcement of a skills-based learning program, "We need new approaches, or we're going to leave more and more people behind in our economy."

Yes. And transitioning away from believing that college is the only way to attain the American dream must begin with acknowledging that non-white-collar work is an important part of our economy deserving of both respect and more attentive cultivation.

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Esther Cepeda's email address is estherjcepeda@washpost.com.

(c) 2017, Washington Post Writers Group

 

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