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More Students Are Turning Away From College and Toward Apprenticeships


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Pointless degrees are finally going away.

 

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Why more Americans are skipping college

Education Mar 10, 2023 8:22 PM EDT

JACKSON, Tenn. (AP) — When he looked to the future, Grayson Hart always saw a college degree. He was a good student at a good high school. He wanted to be an actor, or maybe a teacher. Growing up, he believed college was the only route to a good job, stability and a happy life.

The pandemic changed his mind.

A year after high school, Hart is directing a youth theater program in Jackson, Tennessee. He got into every college he applied to but turned them all down. Cost was a big factor, but a year of remote learning also gave him the time and confidence to forge his own path.

“There were a lot of us with the pandemic, we kind of had a do-it-yourself kind of attitude of like, ‘Oh — I can figure this out,’” he said. “Why do I want to put in all the money to get a piece of paper that really isn’t going to help with what I’m doing right now?”

Hart is among hundreds of thousands of young people who came of age during the pandemic but didn’t go to college. Many have turned to hourly jobs or careers that don’t require a degree, while others have been deterred by high tuition and the prospect of student debt.

What first looked like a pandemic blip has turned into a crisis. Nationwide, undergraduate college enrollment dropped 8 percent from 2019 to 2022, with declines even after returning to in-person classes, according to data from the National Student Clearinghouse. The slide in the college-going rate since 2018 is the steepest on record, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

WATCH: Breaking down the arguments as Supreme Court hears challenge to student loan relief plan

Economists say the impact could be dire.

At worst, it could signal a new generation with little faith in the value of a college degree. At minimum, it appears those who passed on college during the pandemic are opting out for good. Predictions that they would enroll after a year or two haven’t borne out.

Fewer college graduates could worsen labor shortages in fields from health care to information technology. For those who forgo college, it usually means lower lifetime earnings — 75 percent less compared with those who get bachelor’s degrees, according to Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce. And when the economy sours, those without degrees are more likely to lose jobs.

“It’s quite a dangerous proposition for the strength of our national economy,” said Zack Mabel, a Georgetown researcher.

In dozens of interviews with The Associated Press, educators, researchers and students described a generation jaded by education institutions. Largely left on their own amid remote learning, many took part-time jobs. Some felt they weren’t learning anything, and the idea of four more years of school, or even two, held little appeal.

At the same time, the nation’s student debt has soared. The issue has loomed large in the minds of young Americans as President Joe Biden pushes to cancel huge swaths of debt, an effort the Supreme Court appears poised to block.

LISTEN: Supreme Court seems poised to sink Biden’s student debt relief plan

As a kid, Hart dreamed of going to Penn State to study musical theater. His family encouraged college, and he went to a private Christian high school where it’s an expectation.

But when classes went online, he spent more time pursuing creative outlets. He felt a new sense of independence, and the stress of school faded.

“I was like, ‘OK, what’s this thing that’s not on my back constantly?’” Hart said. “I can do things that I can enjoy. I can also do things that are important to me. And I kind of relaxed more in life and enjoyed life.”

He started working at a smoothie shop and realized he could earn a steady paycheck without a degree. By the time he graduated, he had left college plans behind.

It happened at public as well as private schools. Some counselors and principals were shocked to see graduates flocking to jobs at Amazon warehouses or scratching together income in the gig economy.

The shift has been stark in Jackson, where just four in 10 of the county’s public high school graduates immediately went to college in 2021, down from six in 10 in 2019. That drop is far steeper than the nation overall, which declined from 66 percent to 62 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Jackson’s leaders say young people are taking restaurant and retail jobs that pay more than ever. Some are being recruited by manufacturing companies that have aggressively raised wages to fill shortages.

“Students can’t seem to resist sign-on bonuses and wages that far exceed any that they’ve seen before,” said Vicki Bunch, the head of workforce development for the area’s chamber of commerce.

WATCH: Teenage girls experiencing record high levels of sadness, violence and trauma, CDC says

Across Tennessee, there’s growing concern the slide will only accelerate with the opening of several new manufacturing plants. The biggest is a $5.6 billion Ford plant near Jackson that will produce electric trucks and batteries. It promises to create 5,000 jobs, and its construction is already drawing young workers.

Daniel Moody, 19, was recruited to run plumbing for the plant after graduating from a Memphis high school in 2021. Now earning $24 an hour, he’s glad he passed on college.

“If I would have gone to college after school, I would be dead broke,” he said. “The type of money we’re making out here, you’re not going to be making that while you’re trying to go to college.”

America’s college-going rate was generally on the upswing until the pandemic reversed decades of progress. Rates fell even as the nation’s population of high school graduates grew, and despite economic upheaval, which typically drives more people into higher education.

In Tennessee, education officials issued a “call to action” after finding just 53 percent of public high school graduates were enrolling in college in 2021, far below the national average. It was a shock for a state that in 2014 made community college free, leading to a surge in the college-going rate. Now it’s at its lowest point since at least 2009.

Searching for answers, education officials crossed the state last year and heard that easy access to jobs, coupled with student debt worries, made college less attractive.

“This generation is different,” said Jamia Stokes, a senior director at SCORE, an education nonprofit. “They’re more pragmatic about the way they work, about the way they spend their time and their money.”

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Most states are still collecting data on recent college rates, but early figures are troubling.

In Arkansas, the number of new high school graduates going to college fell from 49 percent to 42 percent during the pandemic. Kentucky slid by a similar amount, to 54 percent. The latest data in Indiana showed a 12-point drop from 2015 to 2020, leading the higher education chief to warn the “future of our state is at risk.”

Even more alarming are the figures for Black, Hispanic and low-income students, who saw the largest slides in many states. In Tennessee’s class of 2021, just 35 percent of Hispanic graduates and 44 percent of Black graduates enrolled in college, compared with 58 percent of their white peers.

There’s some hope the worst has passed. The number of freshmen enrolling at U.S. colleges increased slightly from 2021 to 2022. But that figure, along with total college enrollment, remains far below pre-pandemic levels.

Amid the chaos of the pandemic, many students fell through the cracks, said Scott Campbell, executive director of Persist Nashville, a nonprofit that offers college coaching.

Some students fell behind academically and didn’t feel prepared for college. Others lost access to counselors and teachers who help navigate college applications and the complicated process of applying for federal student aid.

“Students feel like schools have let them down,” Campbell said.

In Jackson, Mia Woodard recalls sitting in her bedroom and trying to fill out a few online college applications. No one from her school had talked to her about the process, she said. As she scrolled through the forms, she was sure of her Social Security number and little else.

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“None of them even mentioned anything college-wise to me,” said Woodard, who is biracial and transferred high schools to escape racist bullying. “It might be because they didn’t believe in me.”

She says she never heard back from the colleges. She wonders whether to blame her shaky Wi-Fi, or if she simply failed to provide the right information.

A spokesperson for the Jackson school system, Greg Hammond, said it provides several opportunities for students to gain exposure to higher education, including an annual college fair for seniors.

“Mia was an at-risk student,” Hammond said. “Our school counselors provide additional supports for high school students in this category. It is, however, difficult to provide post-secondary planning and assistance to students who don’t participate in these services.”

Woodard, who had hoped to be the first in her family to get a college degree, now works at a restaurant and lives with her dad. She’s looking for a second job so she can afford to live on her own. Then maybe she’ll pursue her dream of getting a culinary arts degree.

“It’s still kind of 50-50,” she said of her chances.

If there’s a bright spot, experts say, it’s that more young people are pursuing education programs other than a four-year degree. Some states are seeing growing demand for apprenticeships in the trades, which usually provide certificates and other credentials.

After a dip in 2020, the number of new apprentices in the U.S. has rebounded to near pre-pandemic levels, according to the Department of Labor.

WATCH: College students’ stress levels are ‘bubbling over.’ Here’s why, and how schools can help

Before the pandemic, Boone Williams was the type of student colleges compete for. He took advanced classes and got A’s. He grew up around agriculture and thought about going to college for animal science.

But when his school outside Nashville sent students home his junior year, he tuned out. Instead of logging on for virtual classes, he worked at local farms, breaking horses or helping with cattle.

“I stopped applying myself once COVID came around,” the 20-year-old said. “I was focusing on making money rather than going to school.”

When a family friend told him about union apprenticeships, he jumped at the chance to get paid for hands-on work while mastering a craft.

Today he works for a plumbing company and takes night classes at a Nashville union.

The pay is modest, Williams said, but eventually he expects to earn far more than friends who took quick jobs after high school. He even thinks he’s better off than some who went to college — he knows too many who dropped out or took on debt for degrees they never used.

“In the long run, I’m going to be way more set than any of them,” he said.

Back in Jackson, Hart says he’s doing what he loves and contributing to the city’s growing arts community. Still, he wonders what’s next. His job pays enough for stability but not a whole lot more. He sometimes finds himself thinking about Broadway, but he doesn’t have a clear plan for the next 10 years.

 

https://www.wsj.com/articles/more-students-are-turning-away-from-college-and-toward-apprenticeships-15f3a05d

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I don't think this will break the "system."  Higher-paying jobs are still going to require higher education for the most part.  Decent paying blue-collar work, like plumbing/HVAC/etc., has always provided a path for folks, and nothing has changed there.  As the article points out, these are kids who were academically inclined, and less likely to pursue blue-collar work, are simply forcing themselves into a position that they're more likely to have to do that kind of work whether they like it or not.   This will simply add to the number of low-earning people who don't contribute much to the economy.  We're already awash in them.  While the pandemic undoubtedly increased the number of college dropouts, it was always a large number, and I don't see this significantly moving the needle in the long run.  Union apprenticeships would be great if the future showed any signs of providing work for people in those roles.  It doesn't, and I don't know anyone who thinks manufacturing and heavy industry will be returning to our shores anytime soon. 

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Posted (edited)

So despite the fact that the article makes clear this is, on average, not a smart choice, we're saying this is a good thing? The hidden figure in black students' college attendance is that black women are mostly doing fine, while black men have extremely low rates of hs and college graduation.

Edited by KYHorn
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5 minutes ago, Samson's Wig said:

There's a big difference between acknowledging that higher eduction is a broken system that needs reform and thinking that a generation of college dropouts is a good thing.

Didn’t read the article (I’m a ditch digger without a WSJ sub), but the broken system will either completely blow up or at least start to fix itself once demand for their product starts to wane once it’s clear to their customers that the cost of their product isn’t inline with its value.

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A lot of people in this thread clearly didn’t read this article. 

This has nothing to do with degree types or dropouts or even if this is good/bad.

The whole point is that college isn’t for everyone. And that apprenticeships are an option for this group as an alternative to college that prepares them for a career. I think the development of white-collar internships is very interesting as they were generally seen as a route only to blue-collar work.

 

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1 hour ago, Pig Bellmont said:

Good. I think my dad paid $660 per year for college tuition. Things are upside down 

That's about what I paid my first semester. I had about $300 left over from my $1000/yr scholarship to pay for books.

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So PBS is now in bed with the College Industrial Machine of universities plus Fannie Mae?

The authors try to scare the readers about a future labor shortage. It isn’t the 4.0 students destined for med school, nursing, engineering, dentistry, etc. that are opting for trade school and apprenticeships over a bachelors degree. More skilled trades should benefit the economy. Someone up above claimed “pointless degrees” are exaggerated and about 5% of graduates. Liberal arts + fine arts + communications = <5% of undergraduates?! (I’m not saying the USA doesn’t need people with these degrees, but they’ve been over produced for years and the average salaries of jobs for those without higher degrees show it. )

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3 hours ago, Pig Bellmont said:

Good. I think my dad paid $660 per year for college tuition. Things are upside down 

Some of what plays into that is when your dad went to school the percentage that taxpayers via the state subsidizing tuition was likely higher. Disregarding Texas which has a somewhat unique situation, the percentage is quite stark in some states.

For many years regardless of whether a taxpayer or a taxpayers family used higher education, they subsidized it. This was not seen as a bad thing, per se, as the idea was to lead to a more educated diversely enriched population that, in turn, would pay higher taxes due to higher income levels. Often, someone with K-12 + some higher ed (does not have to be a full on bachelor's degree or more) is able to pivot somewhat if life hands them a surprise shit sandwich. I'm generalizing, but while one can self-educate (i.e. via a library etc), the ability to have discussions and exposure to varying perspectives and life experiences is enriching and available and more likely to be taken advantage of in an educational setting. Does it happen in the work force? Yes, sure, but the purpose and motivations are perhaps under different constraints then.

The US used to have the highest educated population in the world, but have fallen behind other countries. Does that matter? Depends upon with whom you speak.

 

 

 

 

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10 minutes ago, Captain Ron said:

Degrees are what you make of them. If you get an engineering degree and don’t get a job, your degree is useless. On the flip side, if you turn something like a fine arts degree into a real job, it’s not that useless  ........Any degree has value if you work to give it value. Calling them pointless is dumb. 

UT's own John Hanke was Plan II and then went on to earn an MBA at Cal-Berkeley. Perhaps an example on the higher end, but it is worth saying that there is a not insignificant number of enrolled students who view college as extended high school and expect a job handed to them upon graduation. Not how that works and truly it never has. Goes without saying that in some years markets are tighter and the type of degree does matter, but the study/social life balance is interesting to observe. Young people in most schools today do not have the benefit their parents did of being able to string out college: it was cheaper and schools were not penalized (at least as much) if a student had extended year(s) to get their shit together, endure a life tragedy, figure out exactly what might be a suitable career path, etc. Degree plans are much tighter now. I've observed that with my own children. Get in and get out. Is that the way it should be? Again, depends upon with whom you speak.

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7 minutes ago, Captain Ron said:

BTW - quick thought on “ dur dur pointless degrees”:

Degrees are what you make of them. If you get an engineering degree and don’t get a job, your degree is useless. On the flip side, if you turn something like a fine arts degree into a real job, it’s not that useless  

I’ve got a niece, she got an English degree and turned it into a underwriting job. She currently works for Bain Capital.

Any degree has value if you work to give it value. Calling them pointless is dumb. 

Completely agree. 

I think most of the "pointless degrees" crap comes from, laughably, people with business degrees.  Those who took the path of absolute least resistance and graduated with the narrowest of educational experiences will naturally be the ones to cast stones. "But my degree landed me my first job!"  Congrats, I guess.  

I think the rest of it comes from engineers, but they're special and deserve a pass.  Their delusions regarding their worth are what makes them good at their jobs.

As noted above, the most valuable thing one develops in a university is critical thinking skills. You can do that in any degree field (even *cough* business) if you apply yourself properly and don't simply coast.  Too many see a college degree as a direct path to a job.  That mindset is what is wrong with higher education, in my opinion.  Some degrees will undoubtedly help you land that first gig, but then you're on your own.  But if that's all you've got, someone with a "lesser" degree will end up getting promoted before you do.

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Posted (edited)
34 minutes ago, Captain Ron said:

BTW - quick thought on “ dur dur pointless degrees”:

Degrees are what you make of them. If you get an engineering degree and don’t get a job, your degree is useless. On the flip side, if you turn something like a fine arts degree into a real job, it’s not that useless  

I’ve got a niece, she got an English degree and turned it into a underwriting job. She currently works for Bain Capital.

Any degree has value if you work to give it value. Calling them pointless is dumb. 

This. I have a degree in government. I ended up in a niche field and make extremely good money from it. Took a few years to get to that money, but again, it’s niche.  Bc I can think critically, write creatively and understand complex yet ambiguous ideas 

Edited by Js1
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The way education is structured in general is broken. This well rounded shit is an outdated system. People in high school need to learn how to be adults. Saving Money. Investing money. Filing Taxes. Applying for loans. Health management. No one needs to know Trigonometry, Chemistry, or Egyptian History. Learn that shit on your own time. 
 

in college, I wasted too much time learning shit that had nothing to do with my major or minor. College degrees should be more focused 

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28 minutes ago, Samson's Wig said:

Completely agree. 

I think most of the "pointless degrees" crap comes from, laughably, people with business degrees.  Those who took the path of absolute least resistance and graduated with the narrowest of educational experiences will naturally be the ones to cast stones. "But my degree landed me my first job!"  Congrats, I guess.  

I think the rest of it comes from engineers, but they're special and deserve a pass.  Their delusions regarding their worth are what makes them good at their jobs.

As noted above, the most valuable thing one develops in a university is critical thinking skills. You can do that in any degree field (even *cough* business) if you apply yourself properly and don't simply coast.  Too many see a college degree as a direct path to a job.  That mindset is what is wrong with higher education, in my opinion.  Some degrees will undoubtedly help you land that first gig, but then you're on your own.  But if that's all you've got, someone with a "lesser" degree will end up getting promoted before you do.

In terms of the skills you learn, I think critical thinking is certainly at the top of the list, but we often forget about a wide array of benefits that come with attending/graduating college. 

Sure you could make more as a plumber or electrician or lineman than many jobs that require a college degree. Income is only a small piece of the benefits. As noted in the article, and this isn't just scare tactics, when unemployment rises, those with a college degree are much more likely to maintain and find employment. Blue collar jobs are often the first to go, whether through technological innovations (looking at you, truck drivers, when three self driving rigs get along), and moving jobs overseas. It's much more difficult to pivot when you have one primary skill and no degree.

It's also about job and overall life satisfaction. Many of the low paying jobs that get mentioned are helping or service professions. These people get the degree and enter into the field because they are passionate about helping people and their career. Many wouldn't find any satisfaction in a blue collar job and would gladly take pay cuts for a job that provides then with meaning and purpose, and longer lifespans as well.

Another crucial consideration is the social network you form, including the most important person in your social network: your spouse. Associative mating is a huge contributor to income inequality and perpetuating cycles of poverty. 

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12 minutes ago, Neonmoon said:

The way education is structured in general is broken. This well rounded shit is an outdated system. People in high school need to learn how to be adults. Saving Money. Investing money. Filing Taxes. Applying for loans. Health management. No one needs to know Trigonometry, Chemistry, or Egyptian History. Learn that shit on your own time. 
 

in college, I wasted too much time learning shit that had nothing to do with my major or minor. College degrees should be more focused 

Training people to be just machines makes it easier to replace them with machines.

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1 hour ago, Captain Ron said:

BTW - quick thought on “ dur dur pointless degrees”:

Degrees are what you make of them. If you get an engineering degree and don’t get a job, your degree is useless. On the flip side, if you turn something like a fine arts degree into a real job, it’s not that useless  

I’ve got a niece, she got an English degree and turned it into a underwriting job. She currently works for Bain Capital.

Any degree has value if you work to give it value. Calling them pointless is dumb. 

Definitely more the person earning the degree than the degree itself.

Unfortunately, some degrees do tend to attract more slackers than others and don't do much to weed them out.

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Maybe if people took some economic classes they would learn what will happen to those awesome blue collar wages if the market gets flooded with more blue collar workers.

Except those blue collar jobs are usually fairly hard work at some point. You probably don’t have to worry about the market getting flooded any time soon.
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Ah yes, the "pointless degrees" argument.  Every one of those punchline, talking point, anecdotal degrees we use to make an argument is less than 5% of all college graduates.  And yet, elected and appointed officials use them to craft ALL higher education policy/funding nowadays.  That would be like Lupus dictating our entire health care model.  I'm glad people want to learn a trade.  You can do both, you can be licensed/skilled and also be a well-rounded citizen with critical thinking skills.  It's not fucking binary, because neither is the human brain.  
Yes, at some point in your life...somebody with an Art History degree made you coffee.  That's not the foundation for public policy, that just means you need to make your own fucking coffee at home for less money.  Half the folks in work with in finance don't have finance degrees.  You can learn to read a balance sheet in a few hours.  You can't learn critical thinking in a few hours, it takes exposure to many different fields.  Everybody conveniently fucking forgets that MOST, the MAJORITY, of your college credit hours were in something other than your technical field.  

Where does the 5% come from? That seems pretty low…

Also I think the point is that much of the anecdotes here about getting a good job with non-STEM/specialized degrees/whatever are becoming increasingly less relevant. A 45 year olds experience is not relevant to a 21 year olds in todays competitive landscape, where every kid their age has a degree.

Not to mention taking that bet saddled with 50k+ of debt.
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1 hour ago, gurt said:


Where does the 5% come from? That seems pretty low…

Also I think the point is that much of the anecdotes here about getting a good job with non-STEM/specialized degrees/whatever are becoming increasingly less relevant. A 45 year olds experience is not relevant to a 21 year olds in todays competitive landscape, where every kid their age has a degree.

Not to mention taking that bet saddled with 50k+ of debt.

Here is some data for you from the National Center for Education Statistics:

Center1.thumb.png.395308c51948e5a3f1af12dc3f5ddeb1.pngTh

the following is some more info that was included with the above illustration:

Center2.thumb.png.6391e2965941b2051ab5d7c8c96f2f2d.pngII

 

 

In order to productively discuss the merits, though, it might be useful for folks to elaborate on what exactly they personally consider a useless degree. For example, if a student majors in history but also registers for a robust curriculum of science coursework, they may very well go onto medical school. While universities offer biomedical type degrees, that is no guarantee that medical school is in a student's future. Professional schools only have so many slots to fill and quite a few applicants.

 

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5 hours ago, Mrs Whiggins said:

For many years regardless of whether a taxpayer or a taxpayers family used higher education, they subsidized it.

It now costs 20x what I paid. That must've been a hell of a subsidy. Too bad we don't subsidize higher education any more.

 

 

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5 minutes ago, GringoSalado said:

It now costs 20x what I paid. That must've been a hell of a subsidy. Too bad we don't subsidize higher education any more.

 

 

What years were you attending? One of the conflating (I think that's the word I need here) issues with tuition is that in 2003, the tuition regulating authority passed from the Texas Legislature to the public universities. During that first year, tuition at the various state schools was raised anywhere from 4 to 15 percent. Between 2004 and 2008, tuition increased 47 percent (statewide). Some have  argued that deregulating tuition slowed increases while others argue the opposite view. Given that the portion that state funds with taxpayer dollars has shrunk, tuition was going to increase regardless. (Prior to 2003, tuition was already on the climb, having increased ~30 percent in the years preceding the bill's passage.) One of the potential reasons for the deregulation passing may have been the multi billion dollar shortfall the state was facing--they could keep from raising taxes and then pass the blame onto the higher ed institutions).

FWIW, I'm not speaking in favor of one point or the other, but providing some context for those that may not have been aware of some of the background. My example was Texas as I reside here, but this was not a lone outlier with respect to higher ed in general. Without straying too far off topic, while some would like a 'reset' for ideological reasons in higher ed, I disagree with that and believe the focus would be better served on some of the discussion that is more related to the topic in this thread--there are varying degrees (not physical degrees) of post secondary education that can serve a variety of needs: tech school, apprenticeships, associate degrees, traditional colleges and universities, etc. What needs are best met by each of these to produce capable, thinking, productive citizens that are engaged in society and how do we reach a consensus?

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I'm relatively young compared to Brat, if my tuition followed inflation it would cost $120 today (google says $1,130). Now it is equivalent to a mortgage. I paid my tuition with bartending tips, and spent more on books. Let's say I was only paying half the true cost, so today it should be about $250.

University should be less expensive now with modern technology, not 20x more expensive. So now if you get a worthless degree you are reminded of it for the rest of your life. Good job, everyone.

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5 hours ago, Mrs Whiggins said:

there is a not insignificant number of enrolled students who view college as extended high school and expect a job handed to them upon graduation

See, I'd say I agree with this halfway. I agree that college is basically where you finish your education; but you still have to either be doing something during your Summers/evenings/weekends to earn that next job, or be planning on graduate school.

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First - a 2015 OpEd from the NYT discussing the increase in tuition: https://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/05/opinion/sunday/the-real-reason-college-tuition-costs-so-much.html

 

Quote

By contrast, a major factor driving increasing costs is the constant expansion of university administration. According to the Department of Education data, administrative positions at colleges and universities grew by 60 percent between 1993 and 2009, which Bloomberg reported was 10 times the rate of growth of tenured faculty positions.

Even more strikingly, an analysis by a professor at California Polytechnic University, Pomona, found that, while the total number of full-time faculty members in the C.S.U. system grew from 11,614 to 12,019 between 1975 and 2008, the total number of administrators grew from 3,800 to 12,183 — a 221 percent increase. 

The rapid increase in college enrollment can be defended by intellectually respectable arguments. Even the explosion in administrative personnel is, at least in theory, defensible. On the other hand, there are no valid arguments to support the recent trend toward seven-figure salaries for high-ranking university administrators, unless one considers evidence-free assertions about “the market” to be intellectually rigorous.

What cannot be defended, however, is the claim that tuition has risen because public funding for higher education has been cut. Despite its ubiquity, this claim flies directly in the face of the facts.


2nd - I’ve always hated the assertion that a college degree is the sole reason people are successful later in life. College self-select the smartest people - high grades, activities, test scores, etc. The traits that got the kids into college are the main reason kids are successful in life, not just the degree they obtained. Colleges love to tout this but it’s just marketing to justify their existence. 
 

3rd - I am not anti college. If your parents have $300k and you want to study international basket weaving & English at Patchouli U, go for it. But fuck that same university for trying to recruit a kid whose parents that make less than $50k and will never get out of that debt. A reckoning is coming for those schools and I have zero sympathy. If colleges want to be so expensive, kids should get an appropriate paying career out of it. 
 

Finally - I think trade schools are a great path for kids today. With the increase in technology and the high cost of shipping, factory work is coming back to the US. Plus, everyone needs to shit and plumbers will always have a job. I personally think that kids in high school should be able to start apprenticeships so that when they graduate, they are on a great career path. 

I will now step off my soap box. 

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4 minutes ago, GringoSalado said:

fify but I hope I'm wrong .

I think most public schools will be fine. They normally aren’t charging $50k a year for in-state tuition and there will always be kids wanting to go there. 

But the small, private liberal arts schools? They are screwed. Some have already started shutting down and they won’t be bailed out. State governments already don’t pay enough to public colleges, i doubt there will be any taxpayer money for private colleges that fail. 

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Posted (edited)

As one of the few people here that have hired form trade schools ……

1. We hired some damn good kids out of uti. You couldn’t dream up better new employees

2. trade school is damn damn expensive. Those kids racked up $20 to $25k in 18 months or so. It’s more expensive than community college. The trade schools are predators on getting those kids to rack up debt 

Edited by tx 3 putt
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11 minutes ago, tx 3 putt said:

As one of the few people here that have hired form trade schools ……

1. We hired some damn good kids out of uti. You couldn’t dream up better new employees

2. trade school is damn damn expensive. Those kids racked up $20 to $25k in 18 months or so. It’s more expensive than community college. The trade schools are predators on getting those kids to rack up debt 

It’s expensive but I’m ok with any kid having $30k in debt. That’s a car payment for 5-6 years and although not cheap, it won’t debilitate someone like $300k would. I would prefer free college for kids but that’s a pipe dream. 

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9 hours ago, smokebomb said:

First - a 2015 OpEd from the NYT discussing the increase in tuition: https://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/05/opinion/sunday/the-real-reason-college-tuition-costs-so-much.html

 


2nd - I’ve always hated the assertion that a college degree is the sole reason people are successful later in life. College self-select the smartest people - high grades, activities, test scores, etc. The traits that got the kids into college are the main reason kids are successful in life, not just the degree they obtained. Colleges love to tout this but it’s just marketing to justify their existence. 
 

3rd - I am not anti college. If your parents have $300k and you want to study international basket weaving & English at Patchouli U, go for it. But fuck that same university for trying to recruit a kid whose parents that make less than $50k and will never get out of that debt. A reckoning is coming for those schools and I have zero sympathy. If colleges want to be so expensive, kids should get an appropriate paying career out of it. 
 

Finally - I think trade schools are a great path for kids today. With the increase in technology and the high cost of shipping, factory work is coming back to the US. Plus, everyone needs to shit and plumbers will always have a job. I personally think that kids in high school should be able to start apprenticeships so that when they graduate, they are on a great career path. 

I will now step off my soap box. 

To add to the discussion, a couple of my own thoughts:

1. It would be helpful when adding anecdotal info (not from the Op-ed above but other posts) if the unit is listed. For example, @Pig Bellmont mentioned his father paid ~$660 per year while @Rimbo paid that amount per semester while attending. @GringoSalado mentioned $120--is that per credit hour/semester/year? If per credit hour, I believe the math would be around $1440 per semester for 12 hours (minimum full time student) so $2880 per year. Currently, UT is ~$5,500 per semester depending upon major.

2. I don't dispute the information regarding the spending; I spent a lot of time on this when my oldest was preparing for college and followed various paths. It gets complicated (to me) on several levels. I'm spoilering that discussion for brevity:

Spoiler

1. University administrative positions seem to me to consist of several 'tracks' and it is helpful to highlight the differences.

First you have the political appointments/hiring better known as the nepo baby/good old boy/friends network. Sure, per state law, the positions are advertised but it's going to be filled with the preselected candidate and there are multiple arenas on a campus where that body can be shuffled in and out if he/she proves incapable to performing the job asked. I have no idea exactly how many of these there are, so take that for what it's worth.

Second, due to various federal and state mandates, universities like K-12 have hired many staff to take care of these requirements. Faculty in higher ed often have a three fold performance metric upon which they are evaluated: teaching, research, and service. You cannot ask faculty to then also take on students' individual needs that must be met according to these mandates. I'm talking about students that need extra assistance such as first generation students (universities are tracked based on how well they shepherd these students through school), students that need disabilities services, academic advisors, financial aid and scholarship staff, non-academic counselors, student-athlete assistance on academics and compliance, and so on. The governor and the THECB (appointed by the governor) set mandates for performance metrics and degree programs and so on and w/o first hand knowledge but judging by the amount of paperwork those various mandates generated by my own volunteering at the K-12 level and research, this is going to require more than just an undergrad filing hire.

Third, you have the parents who, in my day, sent their young adult off to college with very little information (in my case as I was first gen) but now are Customer #1 due to the cost and all but want to know which staff member is going to be calling their child to wake them up for 8:00 AM Calculus so they don't miss it. My spouse accompanied our children to their orientation and was amazed to observe the hovering. As in listening to the other parents complain when the advisors insisted on parents not accompanying their child to the registration process. Between that and having to listen to the Study Abroad pitch, he was wishing he'd just stayed home and let our kids go solo completely the way we had done in our day. On the one hand, I am amazed at the amount of assistance students are given in order to succeed. As a first gen, so much of that would've been welcome in my day as navigating it in the dark was frustrating and difficult and almost got me expelled. On the other hand, all of those layers add administrative staff and on up the chain. As with faculty (I can't recall if that NYT article mentioned that faculty salaries have mostly stagnated), I suspect that the pay disparity between the boots on the ground and the suits upstairs is quite stark.

The student debt/loans is a big problem; no question. It's also useful IMO to break that down into smaller bits though. For example, @tx 3 putt and @smokebomb mention trade school debt. There is also the debt taken on by pursing education at the predatory little strip mall schools that offer associates degrees. I was surprised to discover that one of the most common majors for that degree is English. I'm not knocking English and heaven knows I've read enough writing that could use a good polish, but it is not clear to me what career path the average associates degree holder is taking that major. In a four year school, many English majors go on to teach (k-12/post secondary) and so on so I'm thinking perhaps that the 2 years are attempting to get their grades up enough to transfer in to a four year school (which, if the community type college is standard as opposed to for-profit is one way to save money). And, bringing up community colleges, those also have students who take on financial burdens because even those schools are not super cheap and again, have some administrative mandates that they must follow.

It does seem as if there is an unbearable strain on the system. I mean, off the top of my head: rising population (i.e. more HS grads enrolling in four year institutions), more degree holders in general among both native born and immigrant populations (I believe I read in the BofLabor stats that save Mexico, immigrants from other countries were just as likely or more likely to have a bachelor's degree--that is not a personal statement on immigration, it's just what I listed to discuss degree holding populations), automation of many career paths, fluctuating birth rates that affect enrollment numbers, etc. And yes, loans are a big deal.

One thing that does seem to be data supported is that the leading indicator for student success at four year institutions is family income. That is a big deal if we really stop and think about it and education in general. So many ways you could go with that in a discussion. Anecdotally, my family went from generational poverty to first-gen to soon to have multiple grads and that path has gotten a lot more difficult today. We have tiers of educational institutions within higher ed from elite private and public to tiny system schools that exist to serve very local communities. What path should students from impoverished backgrounds follow given some of the economic realities? Given the wealth inequalities that are growing? Given various demographics of our country?

A final note about the Op Ed. Paul Campos is a Federalist Society member and has a variety of publications. IMO, his statements hold some truths, but little in the way of productive measures. So, administrative salaries at the top levels are high, so the numbers of admins are up. What is the solution? He is a law professor at U of Colorado-Boulder and has written a book "Don't Go To Law School (Unless): A Professor's Guide to Maximizing Opportunity and Minimizing Risk."  I don't doubt that the legal career path is expensive, competitive, and not a decision to be taken lightly. We've just been discussing how many career paths are similar. We have a lot of people in this country and a variety of careers. What are some ways to provide opportunity to those who seek higher education but cannot afford it? Tough cookies? Subsidize? Eliminate unfunded mandates from state higher ed boards? Eliminate the assistance programs for students with special needs? Should the non financial aid students subsidize the needier students as this currently is in place at various institutions?

A lot to unpack, sorry for the very long post.

TL/DR: I am pro higher education or at least education in general but pragmatic enough to realize it is not the best path for all. Who, how, and why are questions that I think about with respect to higher ed. Oh, and to what purpose. That's another one.

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18 hours ago, YGIFS said:

that MOST, the MAJORITY, of your college credit hours were in something other than your technical field.  

My two kids majorities of their degrees are in their respective fields. I wouldn't have paid (at their current universities) for them to "find themselves" and get out making less per year than annual cost of college. I agree that it is valuable to have a broad based education and it is important to teach students how to think and reason. We don't need 6 figures of college debt and extremely bloated universities to do it.  I hope the house of cards that has become higher education faces a significant restructuring and we stop hoodwinking students into massive debt.

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19 hours ago, YGIFS said:

Yes, at some point in your life...somebody with an Art History degree made you coffee.  That's not the foundation for public policy, that just means you need to make your own fucking coffee at home for less money.  Half the folks in work with in finance don't have finance degrees.  You can learn to read a balance sheet in a few hours. 

How many people working in finance have an art history degree tho

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