Boys' Rites of Passage

Our Sons' Futures

Why College is Not the Road to Success for Blacks: Part I

Posted by Thomas on February 14, 2009

“Education is the key to success”…”go to college and get a degree, this is your ticket”…”graduating from college increases your lifetime earnings”—we’ve all heard these sayings and more and have generally believed them, especially blacks. We have treated book education like a silver bullet, the cure for all things that ail us. Well we are wrong. College is not the road to success for blacks, or any heritage for that matter.

Education, book-learning, and college fall into the same bucket for this discussion. And no, I’m not mad (i.e., insane). The reason that college isn’t the key to success is because there are many unsuccessful college graduates. Check out 20/20’s expose “Is College Worth It?”

Using a generalized view of success; education does not equal success. So then what does equal success?

The misconception has been the degree (the piece of paper) was somehow a golden key that unlocked all proverbial doors, not so. There are other skills that fall well beyond book learning that we, blacks especially, must embrace before success fills our professional life.

  1. We must recognize the world we live in NOW is not the same as 10, 15, 20, 30 years ago.
  2. Since the world is different, we need a new approach to achieve some of the same goals our parents sought to achieve.
  3. Prior to the huge technological advances in recent decades, we heard terms like national, international, multinational to describe companies. Now, they are global. We too (individuals) must be global citizens.
  4. Those same former international companies used to seek their talent from national resources; our children used to compete with children in the state, then in the country; now the American student graduating from high school and college MUST compete with similar aged graduates from across the globe—for the same handful of positions.
  5. Years ago change in business happened at a slower pace; now change comes at a break-neck speed; we must keep up.

This is an extremely short list, but it is part of the reason why college is no longer the answer to success (if it ever was). College and the message adults have imparted about it no longer addresses the challenges people face in our modern world. In order to grasp success we must put more in our toolboxes.

Read Why College is Not the Road to Success for Blacks: Part II.


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