In a plan that insidehighered.com has hailed as “brilliantly simple,” students at San Marcos High School in San Marcos are now required to gain acceptance to Austin Community College before they are allowed to receive their high school diplomas.Well, the plan may be simple, but it is certainly not brilliant.
Although this might benefit many students who lack the resources to apply for higher education or are unable to find locations to take the state’s standardized testing, it is also hurting others who are either unwilling or unable to go to college. Though the plan’s designers require that every student – regardless of income level – be walked through the process of applying for financial aid, it does not change the fact that some families, even with university-granted money, are unable to afford education past the high school level. Some households – probably unlike those of ACC’s administrators – need their children at home to help support the family immediately after high school. Unfortunately, poverty does not plan its schedule around a two-year degree plan. Now, such students are forced to make a choice – be damned by dropping out of high school, or be damned by finishing it and having to factor college-life into the equation.
More alarming is the fact that Mary Hensley, ACC associate vice president of instructional support services and independent school district relations, is one of the founders of the new plan. The loophole here is blatantly obvious – how much of this goodwill act is for the students, and how much is for Austin Community College?
Most smaller colleges would love to increase their national recognition and prestige. But at the price of poor high school students? It’s been said that children are the nation’s most precious resource; to a certain extent, ACC is tapping that resource for personal gain.
According to the not-so-fine-print, the students are the ones we’re supposed to be helping. So are we?
Sports editor Travis Stewart for the editorial board