DC Lawmakers Propose Plan Forcing Students to Apply for College

In an eye-opening endeavor to encourage high school students to at least familiarize themselves with the admissions process at colleges, DC lawmakers have proposed a plan that requires them to apply for either a trade school or a college. The proposal would force high school students to apply for at least one institution that provides higher education, regardless of whether or not they want to attend college classes.

Kwame Brown, D.C. Council Chairman, introduced the bill on Wednesday, stating that the plan would help students learn the process of applying for student financial aid and walk them through the admissions process. Brown is under the assumption that D.C. students will not attend college because they “don’t know how to navigate the enrollment process”. However, this “mandatory workshop”, as Brown calls it, poses several problems.

Lots of Wasted Paperwork

Although the concept of walking students through college applications while they are still in high school could reduce the anxiety that comes along with tackling the tedious process, if a student has already chosen to skip past college and into a trade immediately after school, or wants to take time off from school to pursue other avenues in life like traveling, admissions offices will be swarmed with excess applications from students who have no intention of attending. This could then put unnecessary pressure on the administration of colleges, expecting them to process many more applications than necessary, and could also increase administrative costs, thus increasing the costs for the students who actually do attend college.

At the introduction of the plan, Brown announced, “I believe that every child should have the opportunity, even if they don’t go, to at least apply to a college.” But, is he thinking about the college admissions offices and the increase in administrative needs to process the applications? Is he thinking about how this could, in fact, increase the cost of college for those who seriously want to attend?

Forced SAT Testing

In addition to applying for student aid and higher education, the bill would also require all high school students to take the ACT and SAT tests. All of these steps, including the tests and applications, include fees and can add up financially, but Brown assures that he will ensure that students have the necessary “resources” to finance each step.

But, with the federal deficit at a higher point than it has ever been and a lack of funds at the state level, where would the resources come from? Schools are already experiencing budget cuts from the state, and children’s programs at the elementary, middle school and high school level are being cut across the country as state officials decide how to allocate less and less funds. Despite the lack of funds from the government level to the individual high school parent’s wallets.

Idea Based on Charter Schools

Brown is building the case for his new plan with the argument that some of D.C.’s top charter schools make it mandatory for their students to apply to several colleges. The majority of schools in the U.S., however, are public schools and do not maintain the same requirements as the charter schools.

Brown further stated that many D.C. jobs require applicants to have a college degree, but even the unemployment rates in the country during this ongoing recession back up the fact that a college degree does not guarantee employment. Although recent unemployment figures dropped in the last six months of 2011, recent college grads are still experiencing a difficult time landing jobs.

Undoubtedly, students should have a good understanding of the enrollment process for college in case they ever decide to apply in the future, but is making the application process mandatory really going to solve anything? Is it going to cause more financial problems for the government and the students who are truly interested in attending college? Unfortunately, lawmakers appear determined to learn those answers the hard way.