Itís no secret that the affordability of college is nearly out of grasp. NBC reported just last week that college student loan debt now outweighs credit card debt. Still, college tuition continues to rise, student financial aid decreases, and unemployment still hovers around 7.6 percent.
Yet, all we can talk about is jobs, jobs, jobs. There is a direct correlation between education and jobs. But instead of discussing how to make college more affordable, we discuss how to create more jobs. The answer is simple Ė make college more affordable.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics the average cost for one year of a four-year degree at a public college in 2011 was $15,918 and a two-year degree was $8,085. College affordability continues to shrink right before our eyes, yet we wonder why the economy still lags.
Even those who do graduate with a four-year college degree have trouble making it in todayís job market. Many jobs are listed as entry level positions, yet when reading the desired qualifications many jobs will ask for a masters degree or two plus years of experience. I guess my understanding of entry level is different than the workforceís understanding of entry level.
The next question, then, has to be: When did a bachelorís degree become the new high school diploma?
Not to be mistaken, I am the first person to advocate for continued education including graduate level course work. But, with the rising costs of higher education it is fairly reasonable to argue that most people will not and cannot take higher education courses or work towards a graduate level degree.
So, again, weíre stuck at the diminishing value of the bachelorís degree. Students are trained on the idea that earning a college degree will place them in a job nearly immediately after graduating. The reality, though, is that the new graduates are competing against folks with many, many years of experience for lower paying, entry-level jobs. Thus, many students take jobs that are not in their field or are faced with piling on more financial debt in order to get a masters degree.
We are failing ourselves. When schools become big business as opposed to places of education and advancement, we lose. We lose jobs, talent, and progress. We gain only more student debt, more college wealth, and a less qualified and educated public.
It would be in the best interest of the nation to make higher education at all levels more affordable to all people of this country. Education is job creation. Education is the power that will force economic recovery because education is the key to success.
So, in order to create more jobs, to spur further economic recovery, to encourage progression, we need to reinvest in education; we need to ensure that college is affordable for all students; we need to encourage our students to continue their education at the finest higher education institutions in the world by making it financially viable and worthwhile.
Education is freedom to achieve. Itís time to make education financially viable.