Today, almost two thirds of high school students are planning to attend a four-year university right after they graduate. This sounds like a positive change in education, but is it really a good thing for the next generation of youth? Today’s high school seniors face more anxiety in being accepted by the colleges of their choice, and constant pressure from their teachers and parents to truly evaluate whether college is the right choice for them.
A university education is often oversold to high schoolers, yet it under delivers in teaching these young minds the skills they need for an educated workforce. 46% of college graduates are in jobs that don’t even require degrees. They have the knowledge, but lack the experience to land jobs that would justify their massive student debts. Yet, most of these grads are not qualified to enter higher paying jobs, such as construction, mechanical work, or other high-demand vocations.
Many times high school seniors are pressured into pursuing college degrees when they could spend much less time and money at a vocational school. A certificate program at a trade school costs an average $30 - $40,000 for two years, whereas a bachelor’s degree at a public college typically costs close to $100,000 over four years. Oftentimes, college graduates express their regrets when they have accumulated so much debt, yet still cannot find jobs in their field that pay more than their pre-degree earnings.
Many studies show that those who do earn college degrees often earn more than their peers who have no other education. But, the likelihood of students finishing their degrees is less-- approximately 46%. And for children from low-income families (who typically benefit much more from earning a degree), the graduation rate is much smaller. According to the nonprofit organization, Complete College America, less than 10 percent of low income students complete a two-year degree within three years. Many drop out or do not have the financial support to finish their degrees.
College tuition has one of the highest inflation rates. The costs of a four-year degree have risen by over 1100% in the past 30 years. If this were true for other goods or services, we would be paying approximately $25 for a gallon of gas. Even though college tuition has gone up, the value of those degrees as actually gone down. Because more students are going to college than 30 years ago, the job market is saturated with college graduates who have no other distinguishing qualifications. This is where real-world experience and vocational training become more valuable to someone entering the workforce than a degree.
These four years can be spent earning valuable experience, or attending a hands-on technical school that will funnel them directly to high-paying jobs. By 2020, a majority of jobs will not require a college degree at all. With this pursuit of a college-educated society, soon we will be lacking skilled electricians, construction workers, mechanics, IT, and other skilled technicians and craftspeople. Those wanting to “get ahead of the game” should seriously consider vocational training as an alternative to the often costly and risky business of college education.