The Biden administration recently announced a student loan bailout, the costs of which taxpayers will be forced to cover; yet this does not solve the most significant problem afflicting American postsecondary education—the cost of college. Further, Americans are realizing many degrees aren’t worth the cost.
In Case You Missed It via Inside Higher Ed, Americans are waking up to an important truth: a degree isn’t worth what it used to be.
Too many students are failing to consider the return on their education investment when they choose a college or a degree program; this, coupled with the relative ease of borrowing for both students and parents, has resulted in student loan debt more than tripling since 2006.
A recent report from the Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University found significant numbers of people who outearn those with more advanced degrees. The report found, “Thirty-one percent of workers with no more than a high school diploma earn more than half of workers with an associate’s degree. Likewise, 28 percent of workers with an associate’s degree earn more than half of workers with a bachelor’s degree, and 36 percent of workers with a bachelor’s degree earn more than half of workers with a master’s degree.”
[T]he fact that significant numbers of Americans are being outearned by those with less education suggests that many college students don’t realize how much—or how little—their degrees are worth in the world of work.
It’s not hard to find examples of colleges and degree programs where the cost of attendance far outweighs the return on investment in the labor market. The Georgetown center found that more than half the students at 1,233 different postsecondary institutions—30percent of the nation’s colleges—earn less 10 years after enrolling than someone with only a high school diploma.
Many Americans have come to realize they have been shortchanged.
Colleges must establish pathways from the classroom to careers as soon as students arrive on campus. Institutions must clearly show which classes and degree programs lead to specific professions, and they must provide all students with professional guidance to help them stay on their chosen paths.
But most importantly, colleges must be transparent about the payoffs—or lack thereof—for all their academic majors and degree programs.
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