I feel about those with crushing tuition debt the way I feel about people who choose to live along the frequently flooded banks of the Mississippi River. If students and their parents choose expensive schools, they should accept the responsibility and cost accompanying that decision.
But, today, is all that college debt even worth it?
The value of a college education — at least at the more pricey private universities — is declining. An Associated Press analysis of government data found more than half — 53.6 percent — of bachelor’s degree-holders under the age of 25, either couldn’t find a job, or were underemployed last year.
A surprising new report from the Pathways to Prosperity Project, based at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, concludes that four years of college may no longer be the best preparation for a job and career.
As noted in Harvard’s education magazine, “…we place far too much emphasis on a single pathway to success: attending and graduating from a four-year college. Yet only 30 percent of adults successfully complete this preferred pathway. Meanwhile, even in the second decade of the 21st century, most jobs do not require a bachelor’s.”
Thirty percent of new jobs will only require “an associate’s degree or a post-secondary occupational credential,” the report found. It recommends a new direction by broadening “the range of high-quality pathways that we offer young adults. This would include far more emphasis on career counseling and high-quality career education, as well as apprenticeship programs and community colleges as viable routes to well-paying jobs.”
This sounds like a win-win-win. Attend a far less expensive state school and save money; avoid crushing debt that will take decades to repay; and reduce the burden on taxpayers. What’s not to like?
Students and parents should have the right to choose when it comes to college, but if they choose a costly private institution, they should assume the financial obligations that go with that choice. Before choosing, they should look at these studies and consider whether in the long run the supposed prestige and expense of a well-known school are worth the cost, especially if the job or career the student wants doesn’t require a degree, or worse, that there isn’t a job waiting after graduation.
ŠTribune Media Services