Monday, August 12, 2019

49% Now Believe College No Longer "Necessary"

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While 49% of young Americans now believe a college degree is unnecessary, 89% of Generation Z are considering options outside of a traditional four-year degree.

What's happening to public education in America?

Be informed.

As young America heads back to school in a few days or weeks, how they feel about school---specifically about college---should be taken seriously by all of us.

T.D. Ameritrade, the financial services company, hired Harris Poll to take a survey of what young Americans are thinking regarding higher education.

The results should be concerning for all of us.

Nearly half of young Americans say that a college education is no longer necessary, noting they believe their college degrees were not needed in order to obtain their current jobs.

About 89% of the members of Generation Z (age 4 to 24) are also considering options outside of a traditional four-year college, as well as 79% of young millennials (22-28) have considered pursuing something other than a four-year degree after graduation from high school.

In fact, the Harris/Ameritrade Poll shows that about 1 in 5 (20%) of those belonging to Generation Z and young millennials say they may not go to college at all.

Dara Luber, senior retirement manager with Ameritrade says, "More students are looking at online courses, doing classes at community college, commuting from home, or going to a trade school."

There are 74 million in this age group in the US.

Why the push back?

There are probably several reasons, and they are interconnected, but at least 2 are obvious.

Students and their families are drowning in the debt.

The most recent student debt information looks like this:

  • $1.56 trillion in total US student load debt.
  • 44.7 million Americans with student loan debt.
  • 11.5% of students are 90 days or more delinquent or are in default.
  • $393, average monthly student loan payment among those not in deferment.
  • $222, median monthly student loan payment among those not in deferment.
  • Among the class of 2018, 69% of college students took out student loans and they are graduating with an average debt of $29,800.
  • 14% of their parents took out an average of $35,600 in federal Parent Plus loans.
  • Americans owe over $1.56 trillion in student loan debt, spread out over 45 million borrowers. That's about $521 billion more than the total US credit card debt.

Students and families are beginning to question whether the customer (students and families) are getting their money's worth.

Victor Davis Hanson: "Modern University is failing students in every respect."

Davis, a historian and fellow at Hoover Institute, Stanford University, says, "From cost to employment prospects, the state of American higher education is dismal for students."

He notes that modern universities used to assume four goals:

1. The general education core taught students how to reason inductively and imparted an aesthetic sense through acquiring knowledge of Michelango, the Battle of Gettysburg, 'Medea' and 'King Lear', Beethovan's 'Ode To Joy' and astronomy and Euclidean geometry."

2. Campuses encouraged free, even edgy speech, but today college talk is boring, politically correct words echoing through a megaphone.

3. Four years of college-trained students for productive careers. Implicit was the university's assurance that its degree was a wise career choice.

4. They sought affordability to allow access to a broad middle class that had neither federal subsidies nor lots of money.

Hanson says, "The American university is now failing on all four counts."

A bachelor's degree is no longer proof that any graduate can read critically or write effectively.

Hanson says:
"Too often universities emulate greenhouses where fragile adults are coddled as it they were hothouse orchids. Hypersensitive students are warned about 'micro-aggressions' that in the real world are imperceptible.

He says Professors are sometimes supposed to offer "trigger warnings" that assume "students are delicate Victorians who cannot handle landmark authors like Mark Twain or Joseph Conrad."

"Safe spaces" are in designated areas where traumatized students can be shielded from supposedly hurtful or unwelcome language that should not exist in a just and fair world.

Hanson says:
"Colleges need to publicize the employment rates of recent graduates and the percentage of students who complete their degrees so that strapped parents can do cost-benefits analysis like they do with any major investment.

Colleges have no skin in the game.

The bottom 25 percentile of college graduates earn about the same as high school graduates.

Purdue University has begun offering income-sharing agreements (ISAs) which provide student funding but do not charge a fixed interest rate or require the student to repay a specified amount. Instead, students give the college a fixed percentage of their future earnings, subject to some protections.

Currently, students and parents are on the line for tens of thousands of dollars. The college can miserably fail, but they have already collected their money. They have no skin in the game.

I certainly don't claim to have all the answers to the failing public education system in America, but one thing is becoming clear. It is failing.

Advice from Noah Webster, public education's founding father.

Webster on the formation of our country and our legal system:

"The moral principles and precepts contained in Scriptures ought to form the basis of all our civil constitutions and laws...the religion which has introduced civil liberty is the religion of Christ and His Apostles...this is genuine Christianity and to this, we owe our free constitutions of government."

Webster on freedom:

"No truth is more evident to my mind than that the Christian religion must be the basis of any government intended to secure the rights and privileges of a free people."

Webster on the Second Amendment:

"Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed, as they are in almost every country in Europe."

Webster on language:

"A national language is a band of national union."

Webster of the importance of educating our youth:

"The education of youth, an employment of more consequence than making laws and preaching the gospel, because it lays the foundation on which both law and gospel rest for success."

Webster on curriculum:

"The Bible was America.s basic textbook in all fields."

This man guided the formation of what we know today as "public education."

Be Informed. Be Discerning Be Vigilant. Be Prayerful.