Lydia Sheaks
Lydia Sheaks
Lydia Sheaks, education reporter, writes about finding adventure in the everyday, her opinions of current events and trends and occasionally her two cats.

Other Stories by Lydia Sheaks
Reporter Lydia Sheaks writes about education and family issues for the Elkhart Truth.

Indiana needs kids who don't go to college

Education reporter Lydia Sheaks says not all students are college-bound.

Posted on Feb. 12, 2014 at 2:20 p.m.

Arguably the biggest topic in education right now is "college and career readiness." 

(In fact, if you haven't heard that term I'm a little worried about you. I know where you can subscribe to a quality newspaper that will tell you about these things.)

Educators nationwide, in Indiana, and in Elkhart County are striving to give students more pathways to college through Early College, dual credit classes, the Elkhart Area Career Center, and more.

All of these plans are great, and I'm excited to hear more about how students are using these opportunities. College can be terribly expensive and any attempt to help kids who want to go to college get there is something I'll celebrate.

But not all kids want to go to college. Not all kids should go to college.

I think sometimes we forget that.

Goshen Community Schools board member Bob Duell said it well at a recent school board meeting. 

The board was discussing new state legislation requiring schools to remediate students who don't score at least a 46 on the PSAT. Every student has to take the PSAT, and get that score, or schools must spend resources getting those students up to par.

Duell said there's a decent percentage of Goshen students who won't ever go to college.

"They are darn good workers, though, and they are going to contribute to our community," Duell said. 

But it doesn't matter -- every student must be tested as if they are headed to a four-year college or university after high school. 

The Hoosier Hot 50 Jobs list, created using Indiana Department of Workforce Development information, shows that there are jobs in demand in our state right now that don't require college degrees. 

We need plumbers, electricians, mechanics, and concrete finishers. Those folks aren't going to college. They need to be trained, yes. You can't just decide to be a plumber and start fixing pipes right away. 

But instead of college, many of these careers require on-the-job training. You know, that thing we used to do where older, more experienced people teach younger people how to do the work? We still need that to happen. It's still valuable.

And if we are going to get people into these types of careers, we've got to accept that not everyone is going to go to college. If people don't aspire to become operating engineers and construction supervisors, Indiana is sunk. 

Plus, no matter how much legislature we come up with and how much we require students to do, a student's success at college or in any career ultimately depends on them. We can "ready" students for college and careers as much as we want, but it's up to each individual student to make the most of the opportunities they have and turn those opportunities into a real future. 

What are your thoughts on "college and career readiness" in Indiana right now? If you are interested in hearing more of my thoughts and observations on the subject, here's another blog post I wrote last year:

Are today's students ready for 'the real world?'

Connect with reporter Lydia Sheaks on Twitter at @LydiaSheaks or email her at lsheaks@elkharttruth.com


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