I’ve spoken before about the striking differences in pay and employment opportunities one receives upon finishing a 4year college. I’m a big proponent of higher education degrees – the more the merrier (just like hot girls at a party, keep ’em coming).
However, there is a huge problem at hand. College is becoming increasingly more important as the world becomes increasingly more globalized but the discrepancy between the cost of college and a family’s income is widening.
The NY Times states that, “Over all, the report found, published college tuition and fees increased 439 percent from 1982 to 2007 while median family income rose 147 percent. Student borrowing has more than doubled in the last decade, and students from lower-income families, on average, get smaller grants from the colleges they attend than students from more affluent families.”
The speed at which college costs are increasing is triple that of familial income. Families can’t keep up and therefore have to lever up. Students have no choice to take out loans and willingly succumb to a huge debt burden to get the degree.
This is a huge problem. Not only because more and more students “lever up” but because more and more students are having trouble finding jobs after graduating from these highly expensive highly competitive universities. It is one thing to go $150,000 underwater and be relatively assured that a job is waiting for you, it’s a completely different thing to go $150,000 in the red and search the classified section week in and week out. And this all assumes one qualifies for loans (many lower income families may not even have access to this source of funding).
Something has got to give. At some point, people will either decide to not go to college as the costs outweigh the benefits (the worst case scenario), the government will step in to provide more subsidized loans (that charge the student no interest throughout college and perhaps until one secures employment) or employers will look to create more jobs at lower wages due to the excess supply of labor.
College is our current competitive advantage. It once was manufacturing, then services, then high grade goods and services – now it is our universities. Foreign students flock to the US to attend college. Foreign governments sponsor students to go to the US of A, learn all the expert, technical knowledge needed, only to return home and implement that learning. If this trend continues, either more American jobs will be exported overseas, or more foreign labor will be imported to fill American jobs domestically. Both cases are not very good.
So what needs to happen? First and foremost, we have to get a hold of the soaring costs of college. Why are costs sky-rocketing so much? What do the tuition increases lead to? Does it translate to higher faculty wages? Newer buildings? New laboratories and research? More people need to concern themselves with this issue.
Education is the key. Our future generations need to embrace this and not be excluded from college, graduate school, and PhD programs. A diverse student body is great and gives students a broader perspective while at school, but I’d rather have a homogenous American population (we have enough diversity among Americans anyway) if that meant more highly educated Yanks and more high-skilled jobs being filled by our future generations.