Are Colleges Stealing Young People’s Futures?

Is College Stealing Young People's Futures?

( For decades, politicians and the educational system told Americans they needed a college education to get ahead in life. That was only partially right. What Americans actually need to propel them forward are self-directed learning skills, specific job training and skills, and experience. College doesn’t necessarily have to be a big part of the equation. In fact, it often doesn’t accomplish these goals, instead, it leaves students ill-prepared for life after college because they’re burdened with student loan debt.

It’s not uncommon to run into someone with $50,000 of school loan debt but no degree to show for it. Some people borrowed upwards of $120,000 to receive a master’s degree to work as an underpaid administrator.

According to the Roosevelt Institute, 44 million Americans carry student loan debt worth $1.7 trillion. Every 26 seconds, a student loan borrower defaults on a loan. The Federal Reserve says the average monthly payment on school loans is $393 per month. Most young people starting in life don’t make enough money to pay for the essentials and their student loan debt. It’s driving a crisis in need of a solution for millions of Americans.

What’s Driving This Problem?

Part of the problem is that public K-12 educators place a tremendous emphasis on college. For decades, the bar set to measure students’ success was a college degree. Parents agreed with the reasoning, and off the kids went to school. When scholarships and other aid didn’t provide enough money, counselors suggested students simply take out a loan to pay for school and living expenses.

However, this is only a small part of the problem. A large part of the issue is that administrative costs have exploded. The American Council of Trustees and Alumni say that spending on vice presidents, coaches, counselors and all other administrative staff adds up to more than the Gross Domestic Product of 134 countries. To pay for the administrative bloat, colleges raised tuition year after year.

Additionally, colleges are adding more and more degrees that have little value. For example, Gender and Sexuality studies don’t help much in the business world. If you can find a job requiring that degree, it probably doesn’t pay very well.

How many former students and graduates work at the local bar or other service industry jobs to make ends meet? Even if someone gets a degree or an MBA, there are few guarantees of employment. The odds of a person working for the same company for 20 years is exceedingly rare.

Life is challenging, and learning is a skill that is desperately needed in an evolving society. If colleges actually prepared students by teaching them the necessary skills to learn for themselves and prepare for the future, students might not find themselves in this predicament.

But they don’t often do that. If colleges were better stewards of their resources, they might prepare their students for the future instead of robbing them of it.

Don Purdum, Independent Political Analyst

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