In a world in which two-thirds of the jobs require a four-year degree, barely 40 percent of Illinois workers have one. That’s not enough.
“We can’t get there by simply focusing on the ‘traditional’ college student,” says Jim Applegate, executive director of the Illinois Board of Higher Education. “If you drop to the third quartile, which is still middle class, barely one out of three had a four-year college degree, and if you go to the low-income quartile, barely one out of 10 has a four-year college degree. We have been failing a large group of students.”
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Applegate, promoting “The Four Year Myth,” a project of Complete College America, says much of the blame lies with colleges in not properly advising and guiding students. He says the course catalog on many campuses is as big as a King James Bible, and many students have to fend for themselves to figure out which classes to take, how many to take, etc.
Applegate says other problems include not taking what’s considered a full load (15 credit hours per semester), taking the wrong courses, staying “undeclared” or “undecided” after their freshman year, and dropping out with little to show for their efforts.