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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

College for Everyone

Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards advocates a plan that would make the freshman year of college free to everyone -- so long as they agree to work a nominal amount and "play by the rules" (as President Bill Clinton used to say). This is from his May 11 press release:
Senator John Edwards today announced his plan to make college more affordable for millions of students. Edwards' College Opportunity Agenda includes a national "College for Everyone" initiative, which would pay for one year of public-college tuition, fees, and books for any student who is willing to work hard and stay out of trouble...

The initiative is based on the College for Everyone pilot program in Greene County, North Carolina, that helps pay for the first year of college for young people who agree to work at least 10 hours a week...The projected college-going rate for Greene Central seniors has increased from 54 percent before the program started to 74 percent today.
Edwards says that about 200,000 college-qualified graduates fail to attend college each year, primarily because of cost.

As a college professor, I'm excited by this idea. However, I think it is a good idea primarily because it should make it possible for current students to limit their work hours. Students need to study and excessive work schedules reduce study time.

Over the years, I have taught too many bright students who find a way to attend class, but do not find a way to read their assignments in advance of class or search out knowledge independently. Their work commitments apparently make that impossible.

Obviously, when Edwards says that students will work a "minimum of 10 hours," I hope he also proposes a low maximum.

More details about the plan are available on the candidate's website.

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