Is Higher Education Really the Entry Ticket to the Future Economy?
As the son of a university administrator, I have always drank the proverbial, “higher-ed,” cool-aid, supporting the view that a college education is a must for a successful future. The fact that I have both a bachelor’s and master’s degree, attests to my commitment to this cause. But if you are anything like me, questions may be surfacing about whether the return on investment for an expensive degree is really worth it.
According to a recent Associated Press report many of us are in serious denial about this. It found that of graduate’s ages 25 and younger, approximately 50 percent are either unemployed or are in positions that don’t require a degree. Moreover, the U.S. Department of Labor estimates that only three of the 30 jobs anticipated to have the greatest upward trajectory of growth through 2020 will require a bachelor’s degree or higher. In fact, at present, a third of all bachelor’s degree holders of all ages are in positions that don’t require credentials.
If you are like the vast majority of American’s, you simply don’t want to hear this. Yes, you’ve likely digested the cool-aid message too, which says that a college degree is the “end all-be all” gold standard for upward mobility in our society. Well I’m here to say that in a growing number of cases this assumption is flat out wrong.
Check out this video and then continue reading below. It’s hits the target “bulls-eye” in terms of an accurate depiction of what’s really going on.
In pondering this, I have some radical thoughts on moving this conversation in a more pragmatic direction.
1. At the time of this writing, there has been much media interest surrounding the fact that rates on federal student loans could jump from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent. That is if Congress doesn’t act to reset the cap before July of this year. I say, LET THE RATES GO UP. Why? For starters potential college enrollees will likely think twice before mortgaging away their life on that bottom line. Further, it sets the stage for a market correction of those expensive student tuition costs. In other words, assuming that fewer students take out loans, the fuel source of those schools that are bludgeoning student pocketbooks will be affected.
2. Reduce the number of student loans for traditional higher education and provide tax credits to employers who provide apprenticeship programs. Let’s be honest—Future job growth will flourish for fields like plumbing, glass installation, health care administrative support, and automotive repair, the skills of which can be acquired from on-the-job training. Courses in the humanities, social sciences and other soft skill areas offered by tradition higher education institutions are nice to have but only have the effect of driving up the cost burden for students with little or no impact on their future marketability.
3. Working for oneself is the new normal. To this point, students matriculating from high school should take heed of PayPal co-founders Peter Thiel’s initiative to provide $100,000 for startup ready millennials who chose to drop out of college and pursue a small business idea. To me this makes so much sense. And it will send higher education purists face first into their bowl of soup.
So what are your thoughts? Educate me
Michael Scott is the President of OrgBrain, LLC, a Denver based firm dedicated to helping emerging companies and professionals better adapt to the realities of the new economy.