“C” as in “Cat.”

That’s how I was introduced to the English alphabet when I was a kid living in India: Two curious glittering eyes protruding from a bundle of fur had a whole new meaning for me!

But I am sure, it is going to change as “C” as in “College” pretty soon – with a picturesque, bright, “come hither” image of a prestigious ivy league institution, along with a promise of making a dream come true.

According to this report, as of October 2006, 65.8% of high school students are enrolled in colleges or universities in the USA and the trend seemed to be going higher.

Access to college is widely known as a means to social mobility — upward, to be precise — regardless of location.

In the United States, a high school diploma was the gateway to a relatively better paying job until a few years back when you had to have a college degree to get a better job.

That job requirement led to a huge influx of enrollment in all educational institutions.

In my nearly three years of living in America, everyone I met talked about how excited they were about coming to college.

88% of all 8th graders aspire to participate in post secondary education, but their “college readiness” is a serious concern to the policy makers.

“Preparedness” is generally described in two categories:

  1. Proper awareness about one’s goal
  2. Right educational skills

The lure of a college without a concrete vision can be detrimental, both for the students and for the states, as there is money, time and energy involved and no one wants to waste any of it.

Some students are better equipped over achievers who know what they want out of their life. They are natural navigators. Some are bound — or made to — compromise their choice, only to make it happen later in their life.

Some are just lost like a rudderless ship, on a voyage — but without a destination. Education gradually becomes a four year degree problem instead of a four year degree program for them.

I understand the idea of enjoying more freedom away from the parental clutch is extremely tempting; I have experience working with students who would be happy with a menial job and being enrolled in a college — just for the heck of it — they surely lack purpose.

I wonder at the same time, how can the idea of a quest for pure knowledge can be introduced to this “generation Y?”

Or, at least helping them find out the real meaning of education and supporting them while they channel their way out?

Were you aware of your destination when you decided to attend college or not?

Did you consciously choose your path or just navigate your way through as you moved along?

Is a college education still important in today’s marketplace?

Or is talent and ability given greater depth by employers?