Tuesday 23 Oct, 2007

Maine objective

The state of Maine wants all of its students to attend college. In fact, Maine politicians want it so much that they might force kids to apply to college.

Maine recently resolved to encourage high school seniors to apply to college before graduating, but state Education Commissioner Susan Gendron doesn’t think that’s enough. She wants to make it a requirement for graduation.

There are a number of questions about a requirement like that. What about the seniors who won’t go to college or aren’t ready for college? Won’t a slew of unintended applications just clog up the admissions process? Who pays? Judging by the reader comments under the story in the Lewiston Sun-Journal, this is not a popular idea.

Misguided as the law might be, it’s another example of how much emphasis states are putting on encouraging and preparing students for college. Maine, for example, is one of the few states in the country that have adopted the education framework proposed by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills.

Rather than requiring a college application, states would be better served focusing on giving students the skills necessary to succeed—whether they go to college or not. Chief among those skills is global awareness, which is why EF is a member of the Partnership for 21st Century Skills. International travel is key to global awareness—and a successful future in the 21st century. Exposing students to new concepts, new ideas and especially new cultures and showing them the world would make seniors want to attend college, not just apply.

If more and more students traveled abroad, they wouldn’t need a law to apply to college. It’s likely they would just go.