It is observed that in recent times, as soon as students are presented with the idea of continuing their higher education, they don’t show much interest as was shown in the past. There is a continuing decline in the percentage of students completing their studies and further pursuing a degree. This increasing crisis in higher education may be a result of many factors from social, financial, economical and even emotional. There are however various studies being carried out, indicating that all of these factors are correlated to each other, thus making it harder to make substantial efforts and counter this problem effectively. With this decreasing statistics of students with a college degree is alarming and from here result even bigger problems, from low workforce rate to lower income. All of this creates a domino effect which eventually ends up hurting the country’s economy in one way or the other.
Here are some of the key factors which are playing their part in the downfall of higher education.
Growing Anxiety in America about Higher Education:
The constant growing frustration among an average American teenager about the continuation of higher education, specifically getting a college degree is indeed shocking. The growing concern over the quality of education, the rise in tuition fee and other college expenses and some other college woes create a bad picture for students who are planning to get enrolled in college. The problem just not ends there, but also the decreasing employment ratio leaves students without having any hope of their investment in college paying off in the future. Along with other reasons, studies suggest that most Americans are becoming more doubtful about if their respective colleges and universities are making any efforts which they claim about to control their college costs and making tuition within ones means. Even when money is not a subject of concern, it is expected that their hefty investment is paid back to them in terms of quality education. Student with an interest in getting into top colleges don’t get that good of a response as they expect because of the selective enrollment criteria of these colleges. According to a report presented by the Ivy League indicates that the admission rate at Harvard dropping down to just 5.79 %.
Degrees having not the Same Worth:
Another aspect of the deterioration in higher education is degrees not having similar value as they used to. However unacceptable this may sound, people spend hefty amount of money on their college or university education expecting profitable return on this investment. Although it normally young graduates require some time to shift into the corporate market where they get jobs based on the academic achievements and degree. It is observed that graduates these days are dealing with harder times. Thus, many end up accepting jobs for under paid jobs or part-time work, for which they are over qualified. A Pew Research study shows that, most public service fields, such as Healthcare and education graduates suffer the most from lower unemployment rates to as minimum as of about 3 % and 4 % respectively. However students with building and architecture students along while liberal arts and social sciences majors experienced the maximum levels of unemployment of 7 to 8 %.
Higher Education at a High Price:
When choosing to study somewhere, students are not just worried about all the application requirements; in fact, they fret more over their respective college or university’s fee structure. Though much has been done in order to make high education a top priority of every average American but even then the constant increase in college and tuition fee is making it hard for many. College prices have been continuously rising at around a rate of 7% per year for years. When inflation has affected every area of life; college and universities have equally suffered from this. Taking a look at the recent annual fees of top colleges and universities it shows how it has rising at a fast pace. For the year 2011-12 MIT had their annual tuition fee around $40,000 which has now increased, in just a year till $45,016 for undergraduate programs. Harvard College has its tuition and fees around $43,938 for 2014-15 which was around$42,292, making a subtotal of $58,607 which earlier was $56,407.
Increasing Student Debt:
It is quite clear how student debt has increase in the past couple of years, now standing at an alarming number of $1.2 trillion. Due to the increase in college and university fee, students now opt for taking huge amounts in loan, which they are unable to pay back. Reasons vary from high interest rates or getting underpaid jobs. Studies show that students studying at private colleges borrow bigger amount in loans than those at public colleges or universities. Interest rates on federal student loans (mostly taken by students) are expected to increase more by 0.8% in 2014-15. This upswing has been seen in just a year
Shrinking Financial and Educational Returns:
All of these factors eventually result in low financial returns on higher educational investments. The constant degeneration of employment rate for graduates and post graduates, makes many question if any of the benefits on their degree outweigh the cost? Most of the people would answer this question with a big “No.” However impractical it may sound but a there’s a general perception among people that the worth of any degree is measured by what it gives you back. The financial pay back decrease on education often leaves people in confusion about whether higher education is worth it or not.
Undermining the Perception of University being a Good Investment
Apart from all this Universities may counter that the value of a degree cannot be reduced to a simple economic number. Although, it all sounds extremely cynical, especially when the main reason universities have been able to increase their revenue this much is because of loans given to students. These loans are provided to them, in order to encourage and motivate them for pursuing higher education. They are being told that their graduate or post graduate degree is the best investment of their life which is not usually the case, when they step into the job market. In order to get people out of this perception would be affordable programs offered by all universities, improving the quality of education and then providing them with improved job opportunities.
These are some of the basic factors affecting a decline in higher education. All of these are the most common reasons why people give their higher education more than just a second thought. This just not only shakes the overall economy but result in increasing emotional and mental stress among the youth.