Who Needs College?

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Recap from It's a Free Country.

Welcome to Politics Bites, where every afternoon at It's A Free Country, we bring you the unmissable quotes from the morning's political conversations on WNYC. Today on the Brian Lehrer Show, Rick Santorum says that wanting every American to go to college makes President Obama a "snob." Jennifer Cohen, senior policy analyst at the New America Foundation's Education Policy Program, discussed what a college education means today.

How many jobs require higher education?

Rick Santorum has had to defend comments he made about higher education over the weekend, when he called President Obama a "snob" for thinking "everyone should go to college."

Santorum was paraphrasing Obama here: in a 2009 speech, the president said that every American should pursue higher education, whether it's a traditional four-year college, an associate's degree, apprenticeship, or other professional training. The President's bottom line was that a high school education is no longer enough.

Jennifer Cohen said Obama was right about that.

Over sixty percent of jobs require at least some kind of higher degree. That's a dramatic shift from the '70s, where you were seeing 70 percent or more of jobs required only a high school degree or lower.

Cohen said that trend would continue, and by 2018, two-thirds of jobs will require some form of higher education.

Enrolling is the easy part

Higher education enrollment has shifted dramatically along with the demands of the job market. Cohen said that there's been a 100 percent increase in enrollment over the last thirty years.

Drop-out rates, however, are troubling.

Of white students who entered school in 2002, only 60 percent that entered a four-year college actually graduated with a four-year degree. That number is lower for associates degrees, and lower for black and hispanic students as well.

High school may need more fixing than higher education, Cohen said, as many students enter unprepared.

A lot of students, especially at community colleges, enter needing remedial education...They're basically wasting time and money after graduating high school re-learning high school subjects.

Not so different after all

Back to what the President actually said in 2009, Cohen argued that Santorum's comments misrepresented Obama's words.

What we have here is one of those very rare moments where Obama and Santorum are actually saying the same thing: moving forward, more Americans are going to have to consider more education after high school.

Comments [30]

Political PoP from America

what about people in screwed up situation who cant afford or qualify for college loans for example paying 500 a month for rent 200 for full coverage car insurance 300 for car payment and of course how would they even be able to attend college if always working... just to pay the bills then of course when they try to qualify for some type of assitance they dont qualify because according to goverment they make too much money..

Mar. 11 2012 02:34 PM
Karen from Bergen County, NJ

Santorum was being extremely hypocritical when he made his statement criticizing Obama for supposedly trying to "force" everybody to go to college. Firstly, Santorum attended 3 universities--Pennsylvania State, University of Pittsburgh and Dickinson School of Law. Secondly, he admitted he himself encourages his own kids to go to college. Thirdly, he admitted on ABC This Week TV show that both he and Obama strongly encourage Americans to get higher education, including vocational training, apprenticeships and associates degrees. Why are we not focusing enough attention on Santorum's obvious hypocrisy? Please spend more time fact-checking the candidates.
Thank you very much for your attention.

Mar. 01 2012 04:38 AM

Why is the media giving such much attention to Santorum? He's so far out of the mainstream of either political party. He's also, like so many politicians, a true hypocrite. But, please, do not turn him into another Sarah Palin.

Feb. 29 2012 01:39 PM
J.W. from ct

I'll just leave this here:

-National unemployment rate: 8.3%
-National unemployment rate for college graduates: 4.2%

source links:

Feb. 29 2012 12:51 PM
jonn knoxx from NYC

That's right, don't go to college.
Great idea.
However, I'm still going to raise intelligent children, focus on education and make sure my children go to college and onward and upward.
Santorum's idiot catholic zealots can bus my kid's tables and pump their gas for them.

Feb. 29 2012 12:37 PM

Brian made a pretty BIG boo boo earlier. While discussing Rick Santorum, he referred to Santorum as a perceived "working class hero" (even if only to his supporters).
PLEASE, do not equate, in ANY WAY WHATSOEVER, Rick Santorum and John Lennon's song "Working Class Hero" ( Santorum and his supporters could not possibly understand the full depth and breadth of Lennon's words in this poem. In fact, the more acerbic lines are aimed specifically at Santorum and his supporters in ways I would challenge Santorum to explain.
PLEASE BRIAN and staff -- keep things like this separate from each other.
Otherwise, always a great show.

Feb. 29 2012 12:07 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

Besides abortion, sending all kids to college instead many going to work to some menial labor for a few years before moving on forced the need to look the other way while businesses imported illegal immigrants to the do the jobs "that Americans don't want." That is, we taught kids that regular menial jobs were beneath them, and that anything short of college is failure, and between abortion and this fethish for "higher education," we bent our economy totally out of shape. Santorum is right on the money when he focuses on family, abortion and liberal elitist propaganda.

Feb. 29 2012 11:43 AM

Rick Santorum: Rocket Ship To The Past!

Feb. 29 2012 11:31 AM

Clearly Santorum should have a couple more years of schooling because his lack of comprehension of the Presidents sentiments on higher education is pathetic.

I would respect him more if he just admitted that he agreed with the President. How can he say he disagrees with the President then steal his words nearly verbatim!

Feb. 29 2012 11:23 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

No question about it, 75% of a "college education" is LEFT-WING indoctrination and brainwashing.Back in the '60s I had a FULL Regents Scholarship but went to Brooklyn College, which nevertheless in 1964 was a tough school into. Half my professors were avowed Marxists! I got a mostly worthless BA in History. Much later in life, a got an AAS in electronics which helped me become a technical writer for a while in Israel.

Santorum is correct. Most of the so-called "liberal arts education" is a liberal scam designed to create jobs for themselves as social engineers and brainwashers instead of dishwashers!

Feb. 29 2012 11:21 AM
John A.

Had a good point and blew it trying to be a firebrand. Forever the thought I return to when hearing about Santorum.
(copy comment from Feb/27)
Santorum remains the easy target

Feb. 29 2012 11:20 AM
The Truth from Becky

No no no no no lady, Santorum and the President are not saying the "same" thing! The President said it first Santorum is parroting!

Feb. 29 2012 11:17 AM
brian from midtown

Going to college should be about becoming a well-rounded, educated person. Or about following a passion. Career training is another thing altogether.

Feb. 29 2012 11:17 AM
Bernie from NYC

How does the proliferation of online Universities and for profit colleges effect the dropout statistics?

Feb. 29 2012 11:16 AM
Judith from Brooklyn

A typical example of Republicans getting people to vote against their own interests - with hypocrisy to boot! Santorum has a B.A., M.B.A., and J.D. His wife is a lawyer and was a neo-natal nurse. No doubt his children have higher education degrees also. Add the data on income differentials between people with higher education and those without, and one has to wonder - who would applaud Santorum's rant against higher education?

Feb. 29 2012 11:16 AM
The Truth from Becky

I hate back peddlers worse that hate people that misconstrue other peoples words! Also, the President included trade and technical schools in his comments.

Feb. 29 2012 11:15 AM
Bill Mullen from New Rochelle

NEVER MIND how many students go on to college.

Mr. Santorum has five children, who he has exploited as well as Ms. Palin did hers.

Three of Santorum's children are college age.

What percentage of Santorum's college-age children are going to college?

And, might Santorum consider the Service Acadamy "snobbery?"

Feb. 29 2012 11:13 AM
nyer from nyc

I guess this would make Santorum the most liberal (brainwashed) candidate, and he should drop out of the right-wing Republican party, since he went not only to college, but law school AND business school.

Or if he avoided liberal indoctrination through three university degrees, maybe he should share his secret with his supporters.

Feb. 29 2012 11:13 AM
Robert from NYC

Since it was a campaign speech, I assume the Obama (Oh Bummer!) wanted to sound strong and confident that he "wants" all Americans to go to.... But I would bet for campaigning purposes, he only adjusted what he really intended to say is I "want every American to have the opportunity...." That said, Santorum is playing to his base, the anti-intellectuals of the world, while insulting intelligent, thinking voters. Santorum is a snob as are the anti-intellectuals, only thing is they're too stupid to see that!

Feb. 29 2012 11:12 AM
The Truth from Becky

Nothing "snobbish" about that! Key word: Encourage

What an idiot Santorum but we are always talking about how China excels over the US.

Feb. 29 2012 11:10 AM
Mark from New Jersey

Given the ages of Senator Santorum's children, is he saying that they are NOT going to college?

Also, I heard a line this morning, attributed to David Letterman: "Senator Santorum's anti-college education policy is Every Child Left Behind."

Feb. 29 2012 11:05 AM
John A.

I definitely want to hear the original quote(s) from the President.. This sounds like an obvious misquote for votes.
Confirmed by Brian On-Air -- Thanks!

Feb. 29 2012 11:01 AM
The Truth from Becky

The President like most parents would be negligent not to advise or encourage their children to seek further education. A snob? That is santorum's own insecurity speaking.

Feb. 29 2012 10:59 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

The importance of going to traditional 4 year colleges is over-stated in the US.

Most kids will end up with a degree and a career path they have little passion for, coupled with crushing debt that they, their parents, or the Govt will end up servicing for decades.

However - post secondary / high skilled training is absolutely critical to keep American workers competitive and Obama has said as much.

Santorum's rant had nothing to do with the genuine debate on the validity of college. His speech was a pandering, reactionary ode to an inaccurately perceived, supposed working class virtue for ignorance - that's held by many conservative elites.

His paranoia of "liberal indoctrination" by college professors is proven false by his very existence - a guy that's the son of a doctor, who himself is married to a college educated person, and has a bachelor's degree, a law degree, and an MBA. I'm sure some of his kids are, or will be going to college. It is the height of hypocrisy.

Is there a conservative repulican senator in the US congress without a college degree?

Feb. 29 2012 10:50 AM

Awwwww... who needs an education???

Educated folks can't be exploited quite as well - nuthin' but problems!

Just enough to make and buy the widgets... that's all you really need!!

Feb. 29 2012 10:44 AM
sandra from nyc

Bravo! Well said Pat!!!

President Obama is a huge advocate of community colleges. As a professor at this type of institution, I teach masses of students who are simply there to improve their basic skills and become more tolerant, informed citizens.

They include mothers returning to work, students with no access to a decent HS education, war veterans, etc etc...
Many plan to pursue careers as police officers, elementary school teachers, medical technicians and a vast number of other much needed careers. Four year colleges are cost prohibitive, but they need these skills to continue on.

Where can these students go with limited incomes and/or at an advanced age to complete such pursuits?
Or should we just continue to raise a nation of illiterates who will eventually run our government?

Feb. 29 2012 10:34 AM

There has to be a bigger question here!
Why does the gop base hate science?
Why does the gop want to keep people poor and scared?
For those with a college degree the unemployment rate is <5%
They seem to want poor women to have more children
They are always trying to take money out of education and art
They oppose stem cell studies
They don’t want to build infrastructure like a train tunnel between NY and NJ
The list goes on (what other examples can u think of)
Even olympia snow has had enough

Feb. 29 2012 10:13 AM
pat from New York

I hope you'll make clear that Obama never said everyone should go to a four-year college. He said that our young people need additional training. And they do! With the focus on testing in the No-Child-Left-Behind culture, young people aren't developing the necessary skills to find jobs that will lead to financial stability. Vocational schools and community colleges are terrific alternatives--provided that they are more than simply credential mills.

Rick Santorum is proof that a college degree does not lead to intelligence or an ability to hold two competing thoughts in one's head at the same time.

Feb. 29 2012 10:06 AM

Wanting every American to go to college reminds me a lot of George Bush wanting every American to own a home.

Feb. 29 2012 09:54 AM
Josh Levine

Has it been pointed out that well-paying non-college jobs, Santorum cites manufacturing so we'll go with that -- only pay well because of decades of battle by unions against so called Conservatives and Republicans and their agents?

Feb. 29 2012 09:52 AM

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