This story will break your heart: A Generation Hobbled by the Soaring Cost of College. We live in a country where it’s hard to find work that pays living wages without a college degree, and yet few jobs actually require the use of any knowledge obtained while earning that college degree. It’s a hard life for young people these days. Education is no longer a guaranteed path out of poverty, and it can actually help keep a person in poverty with the onerous burden of student loans. A number of people have already made the comparison to the subprime mortgage crisis, and this article does the same:
Much like the mortgage brokers who promised pain-free borrowing to homeowners just a few years back, many colleges don’t offer warnings about student debt in the glossy brochures and pitch letters mailed to prospective students. Instead, reading from the same handbook as for-profit colleges, they urge students not to worry about the costs.
Some of these students are paying $40-$50k a year for their educations only to graduate into an employment market that forces them to take near-minimum wage jobs that they have to use in order to pay their $900/month student loans. This should be criminal. Much like mortgage brokers have to give their customers Truth-in-Lending-Disclosures and Good-Faith-Estimates, the government ought to require colleges to disclose the fact that a college education does not guarantee a high-paying career.
Moreover, our politicians really really really need to stop talking about education and start talking about jobs and industry. We already have lots of educated people. We don’t need more people to take on debt. What we need is dialogue on productivity and how to make use of the smart people who probably wouldn’t learn much in college that they wouldn’t be able to teach themselves. As a writer/lover of humanities, I realize that the humanities are hard to promote if everyone is broke and suffering from excess debt–so jobs should be the focus. I truly sympathize for these poor, unsuspecting college students whose lives have now become defined by the debt they took on by trying to do the socially acceptable thing.
I think more people ought to explore Peter Thiel’s ideas about education, and perhaps more business leaders ought to jump into the fray by also speaking out against this new bubble. Business leaders could really help this movement by pledging to hire a certain number of non-college-graduates or people who demonstrate exceptional life experiences. I don’t know if “10% of our employees didn’t waste their time on college” would ever be a bonafide bragging right for a company, but it would be a step in the right direction of dismantling the education bubble before more people get hurt.