This week, college students go back to school to start or continue to discover who they are (or just partying). However, with news on if internships should be paid or unpaid, or how the government is screwing you on college loans, colleges are in a bind and very likely will be further behind.
The problem with most colleges is they stick to the old adage of learning, then go out in the real world from those lectures and accept it. It might worked in simpler times, but with these complex times and accelerating technology, colleges need to step up.
The main issue is costs going to college is at its highest right now. This is from a Moody’s report in Rolling Stone:
Between 1950 and 1970, sending a kid to a public university cost about four percent of an American family’s annual income. Forty years later, in 2010, it accounted for 11 percent. Moody’s released statistics showing tuition and fees rising 300 percent versus the Consumer Price Index between 1990 and 2011.
Add to that inflation of housing, rent, food, cars, and others, it is hard to recover the students loan costs today if tuition and others take up most of your income.
This leads to another issue of colleges: the rise of massive online open courses (MOOCs). Companies (and colleges themselves) are using MOOCs to engage with people about a subject. For most the MOOCs, it’s free or pay a small fee to get the class (if you want certification). The popularity of MOOCs is pushing colleges to adjust to attain a wide audience.
What is a college to do in a troubling climate where the government can’t hand out grants and loans like they use to and going to college is going to suck most of the students’ income?
In my opinion, colleges need to cover all: the learner, the athlete , the doer and the laborer. The learner is already establish in college as they learn and take exams. The athlete brings a lot of money and attention for the college. They need to establish coursework to not become better athletes, but more maturity on a huge stage and behind-the-scenes, The doer wants to get things done. Setup incubators and give them courses to prepare to startup an idea/business. A laborer needs to be keep up to date on materials and changes, why not use the additional space for more vocational classes?
Although you can setup classes for different types of people, the huge issue is their physical and emotional maturity when they leave college. That part is up to the student. If I were colleges, I would be flexible giving degrees. You can still keep the 4-year degrees (which is around 160 credits total), but if someone drops out, give them an option by getting their degree via achievement and payment. Make a requirement that if the dropped out student pays, let’s say $5,000 within 5 years, they get a degree in what field they’re in. It encourages the dropped out student that if they’re ready for the real world, they can make contributions, including their college, who in turn, can build up alumni relations.
For college students who are reading this; I hope you enjoy the first week of college. There are plenty of opportunities meeting friends and discovering your career. After college, you are in a craphole with student loan payments and a small, yet crowded open job market. Some of it is the government’s fault, but most of it is on the colleges lack of forward vision and trying to worry about profit instead of advancing their students. College is a great place to learn and work; I don’t think it’s the most feasible method anymore. This is not your fault, it’s the college who needs to figure out how to break-even. It is always comes down to money.