Owned. originally uploaded by Our Lady of Disgrace
I work in higher education and have for the last 7+ years ever since I graduated. Not only do I work in higher education I’m also a current student so clearly I have staked my future success on the education I have received and will receive in the future. But even so, many people I know (including myself and my wife as well as several friends) have made mention of the fact that college degrees just aren’t worth what we were told they would be all those years ago. This op-ed at NPR agrees going so far as to note that the entire higher education system is broken.
From the transcript:
Prof. HACKER: Well, Zach has an interesting point here. Currently, about 30 percent of our population has or will have bachelor’s degrees. And it’s moving up to about 35 percent. It’s really – we’re turning out a million and a half BAs every year. So we’re not talking 30, 35 percent. That’s a pretty large group. Now, I do agree with Zach that most of them have been in large lectures filled with PowerPoints, taught by overworked adjuncts and teaching assistants. They’re not getting much of an education. They’re not getting a chance to use their minds. And we would like to see everybody have, let’s say, for example, small seminar.
Earlier in the interview Professor Hacker talks about some private educational institutions charging $50,000+/year in tuition. With so very many workers with bachelor’s degrees available in the workforce all learning similarly useless information, how can this extremely expensive degree (and one which will only get more expensive due to funding cuts and, “because colleges know they can keep raising their prices as theyve been doing, well ahead of inflation, and the students will come and take out loans.”) actually benefit anyone in the future when they have to dig themselves so deep into debt to pay for it?
Post-secondary education in Minnesota is far different than where I grew up. We were taught that you were to go to college and get a bachelor’s degree. Community colleges and technical schools, which were few and far between as it was, were reserved only for those who were at the bottom of the barrel academically. Your choice was simple: go to a four year institution and graduate or suffer the dire consequences of a life without a bachelor’s degree–oh the horror.
Looking back on my college education I have to say that I was misled. I felt I was a failure that my first job out of college started at $9.50/hr and that my second job, which I moved several states away to take, was not much better at $12.23/hr. It was my understanding, based on everything I was ever told in my time in the United States education system that I would start at $45,000 to $50,000/year and only go up from there. Is it wrong that we are pushing so many students into degree programs which really may not be well suited for them because that’s the “best way” to do it? Why are we telling students they are going to start at $45,000+/year when that’s what a majority of US workers top out at when they retire?
Being that I have a very young son who needs to have us saving for his college education, which will likely cost 4x as much as we had to pay, I want to know what others are planning to do with their kids? Will you fight the suggestions provided by secondary institutions to push four-year degrees on students throughout their college prep days or will you embrace it and push your children to go for it? Do you think that your own degree has provided you with the results you were taught to expect after graduation? Whatever you think about the NPR piece on how the higher education system is broken or what you are planning to do with your own children when the time comes go ahead and comment on as I’d love to hear what you have to say.