50th Edition, Education

Is no college the best?

By Denebola
Published: February 2011

By Denebola Staff, Volume 18
April 25, 1979

82.3 percent of Newton South’s graduating class of 1978 continued their education. Wellesley and Brookline tied at 80 percent  Newton North came in with 68 percent.
Apparently there are many adults with no college education at all. If this is true, then why do so many of South’s students react with surprise when a classmate of theirs decides not to follow in everyone else’s footsteps even if only for a detour of a few years?
Dr. Margaret Addis, head of the guidance department at Newton South, says that most of the school’s students have never even considered the alternatives to college.  She feels that part of her job is to make the students aware of the many choices the world has to offer them.  Even if the student takes no more than a moment’s time to consider the alternatives, Addis feels that the student will have a keener insight into his chosen career.  She feels that the student who decides upon a different road than the one his companions are taking is “very brave.”
A number of South graduates take a year off after their senior year at South.  There are many reasons for their doing so.
Chris Freeman, a senior at South, decided to spend next year in a nonacademic atmosphere.  Chris explained, “I’ve spent 12 years of my life in a programmed academic setting… I want a change.”
Many of his peers were surprised by Chris’ decision to take a year off.  It was expected that Chris, an academically talented student, would automatically enter a college after high school.  “ I don’t like the fact hat everyone accepts college as inevitable.”  Chris continued, “Many people end up with a diploma and no practical experience.”
Chris’ plans for next year include: studying music with a private tutor and working in a harpsichord factory.   He wants a nine to five job for money and experience.
Myles Gordon’s reasons for taking the next year off are similar to Chris’.  Myles feels that he has been “tied up in academic life” for 12 years and needs time to decide if “the route which all his peers are taking” is the right one for him.  Suzy Whittlesey is taking next year off in order to study dance and to work. “Studying dance at a college wouldn’t allow me to commit myself fully to my art,” she states. “ I would have other work to do.”
There are more reasons for taking a year off.  Some students feel a need to mature psychologically before taking on the rigors of college life. Some need a year to earn the money to pay the exorbitant cost of higher education.  Finally, some students, unsure of what they want in life, need time to contemplate their future.
Guidance counselor Earl Pearlman feels that the environment in which South’s students are growing up, is “academically oriented.” He feels that Newton North has a more even distributed population, and is more representative of a “typical” high school.
Pearlman’s idea of college is a place to learn and to “experiment” with future careers.  He feels that many students don’t know what they want to do when they first go off to college.  One such student is senior Jennifer Sawin.  She says that, for her, college will be a learning experience and a place to “explore.”  She states that if her future job would not require higher education, she would not seek one.
But many students, even those aware of the alternatives, feel they have no choice but to continue their education.
They claim they have been “programmed for college.” Some feel that higher education means a higher salary, other feel that college means a job.  But does it?
Bill Yunker, career resource counselor, emphasizes that in the real world, “college does not necessarily ensure you a job.”
Many college graduates end up over-qualified and out of work.  Often times not going to college is the wisest thing to do after high school.

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