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D.C. Lawmakers Propose Requiring Students to Apply to College

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Jan. 4, 2012: D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown speaks at a council meeting in Washington, D.C. (D.C. Council)

Lawmakers in the nation's capital have floated a plan to require high school students to apply to college or trade school -- even if the students have no interest in attending. 

The proposal is a bid to ensure students in the troubled Washington, D.C., school system at least have the know-how to navigate the admissions process. 

D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown, who introduced the bill, said the proposal would establish a "mandatory workshop" to teach teenagers how to apply for aid and admission. It would then require everybody to apply to at least one post-secondary school before graduation. 

"I believe that every child should have the opportunity, even if they don't go, to at least apply to a college," he said as he introduced the bill Wednesday. 

The bill would also require every high school student to take the SAT or ACT tests. While the admissions and test-taking process would entail fees, Brown said he would work with the school system to make sure students have the "resources" to apply. 

Brown, in making the case for his bill, argued that several top charter schools in D.C. already require students to apply to multiple colleges. Such a requirement, however, is rare in a public school system. And while Brown argued that a college degree is a requirement for many D.C. jobs, it is by no means a guarantee of employment -- recent college graduates have struggled to land jobs in the wake of the recession, though labor figures show the unemployment rate among recent graduates dropping in the last half of 2011. 

Brown argued Wednesday that some D.C. students aren't going to college simply because they "don't know how to navigate the enrollment process."