Santorum’s broken clock moment

9 01 2012

Pundits have subjected GOP candidate Rick Santorum to a round of well-deserved criticism following his near win at last week’s Iowa caucus. Sure, Santorum’s not-Romney status, relatively low profile, and socially conservative message have carried him far – but a bit of scrutiny reveals a man that will not hesitate to use big government to reshape American society in accordance with his own vision.

Still, like the proverbial broken clock, Santorum occasionally makes sense. I was pleasantly surprised to read his weekend comments on higher education:

We are leaving so many children behind. They’re not ready to go to [college.] They don’t want to go to college. They don’t need to go to college. I was so outraged that the President of the United States [said] every student should go to college.

It should not be a sin to suggest that high school graduates consider career paths that do not involve a costly four (or five) year-stint at a university. Yet politicians, especially those on the right, are often too afraid of being labeled “anti-intellectual” to debate the issue. Santorum should be commended for speaking out – hopefully, other candidates will follow suit.

A bit of a disclaimer: I realize that, as a student fortunate enough to be attending an excellent university, recommending that prospective students reconsider college smacks of elitism.

But that doesn’t mean college should be remade as an exclusive club for the privileged. Rather, our society’s obsession with credentialism has limited the options available to capable young people. Fascinating and rewarding careers – such as the noble (and much-needed) skilled trades – have fallen by the wayside as a result.

What is ultimately more elitist: suggesting that individuals consider alternatives to college, or stigmatizing those who decide to pursue a careers that do not require an overpriced diploma as a ticket of admission?




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