Who needs high school?
Suzanne DeChillo/The New York Times
April Pointer, a part-time telemarketer who never
completed high school, attends Rockland Community
College in Suffern, N.Y.
Can't Complete High School? Go Right Along to College
By KAREN W. ARENSON
Published: May 30, 2006
It is a kind of Alice-in-Wonderland idea. If you do not finish high school, head straight for college.
But many colleges — public and private, two-year and four-year — will accept students who have not graduated from high school or earned equivalency degrees.
And in an era of stubbornly elevated high school dropout rates, the chance to enter college through the back door is attracting growing interest among students without high school diplomas.
That growth is fueling a debate over whether the students should be in college at all and whether state financial aid should pay their way. In New York, the issue flared in a budget battle this spring.
They are students like April Pointer, 23, of New City, N.Y., a part-time telemarketer who majors in psychology at Rockland Community College, whose main campus is in Suffern, N.Y. Ms. Pointer failed science her senior year of high school and did not finish summer school.
But to her father's amazement, last year she was accepted at Rockland, part of the State University of New York.
"He asked, 'Don't you have to have a high school diploma to go to college?' " she said. "I was like, 'No, not anymore.' "
There are nearly 400,000 students like Ms. Pointer nationwide, accounting for 2 percent of all college students, 3 percent at community colleges and 4 percent at commercial, or profit-making, colleges, according to a survey by the United States Education Department in 2003-4.
That is up from 1.4 percent of all college students four years earlier. The figures do not include home-schooled students.
The existence of such students — eager, yet at high risk for failure — exposes a split in education policy. On one hand, believers in the standards movement frown on social promotion and emphasize measurable performance in high school.
At the same time, because a college degree is widely considered essential to later success, some educators say even students who could not complete high school should be allowed to attend college.
Nowhere is this contradiction more evident than in California. This year, 47,000 high school seniors, about 10 percent of the class, have not passed the exit examinations required to graduate from high school. They can still enroll in many colleges, although they are no longer eligible for state tuition grants.
The President's butt boy is going to Harvard Business School with one year of college. Ms.Pointer deserves the same chance.
posted by Steve @ 1:26:00 AM