Sunday, October 30, 2011

Is Education a 'Bubble' that will burst soon?

We've all been hearing the news from the United States about how college and university education is becoming so expensive that if students aren't walking out with a piece of paper and a mountain of debt, they're dropping out with a slightly smaller 'hill' of debt.  Students make up a large percentage of people fed up and holding up pizza box protest signs at the Occupy events around the world.

So what does all this mean for Education in North America, and specifically for the United States?

On the one hand you've got people who chose to forfeit furthering their education, and took a gamble on being able to find a place that will hire someone without a piece of paper, hoping that they'll be able to compete in the workforce by skill and hard work alone, and attempt to work their way up the salary ladder from a lower pay grade than someone with an education, and have little to no debt.

Then on the other hand you've got people who did choose to go to post-secondary, spend time, money, and effort investing in their future, racked up a very often substantial debt. The debt is SO much of a problem, that it's actually predicted by some that post-secondary education is now something so unattainable in the United States, that education alone will start to decrease. I heard some stats from the States recently that said non-traditional, part-time students are now the norm (at a staggering 75% of students). Considering those same students are also commuters, often with families and jobs on top of school, it's no wonder that in places like Texas, for every 100 students enrolled in a public college, 79 started at a community college, and only 2 of them graduated on time. That sounds drastic but get this, after 4 years only 7 of them graduated on time. Of the 21 of those 100 who enrolled in a 4 year program, only 5 graduated on time. After 8 years, only 13 actually earned a degree. Only 25.6% of people enrolled part-time earn a bachelor's degree after EIGHT YEARS.

The bitch of it truly is, the government keeps plowing money into things like student loan organizations so that more people can theoretically go to college. But the more money the government throws into 'education', the more other companies start raising prices on things like text books, dorm rooms, public transit, etc. This makes going to college full time in the United States damned near impossible if you're paying your own way (and sometimes even if you have help from family).

Here's another fun trend going on in the United States right now: there are actually people who are considered 'professional students' who are only in college because they're 'waiting out' the recession. Only to hear from media and whatever other sources that the recession is now over (which it isn't) so they finally leave college looking for those promised jobs that you definitely get from going to college (which you don't), and sure that they'll be better off than people who never bothered to go to college (which they won't be). And these are actually people with workforce degrees; architects, engineers, teachers, etc.

So what does all this mean? Is college worth it anymore? DOES college actually guarantee you're going to get a job anymore? And even if you do get a job, what are the chances you'll be able to plow through all your debt to actually live your life and reap the benefits of your education?

Interesting link for further reading on this subject:
The Staggering Growth of Student Loans

And more links on Education in general:
Do Schools Kill Creativity?
Changing Education Paradigms

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