Last week, the New York Times ran an opinion piece on the increasing number of students your age who do not see college as a necessary investment. This seems particularly true for students and families whose political orientation lies to the right of center, as they see colleges as bastions of left-leaning, ivory tower academicians. (Indeed, most college professors and administrators identify as liberal.)
The other issue involves cost. Those born before 1980 and who hold college degrees have experienced a substantial return on investment for their diplomas. Those born after 1980 have not, especially if they have degrees in fields that are not STEM oriented. Why? Largely because the cost of college attendance has doubled since 1992. Salaries, on the other hand, have increased by only about 5%. For those whose political beliefs run against the liberal politics of college instructors, this adds to the disinclination to seek a four-year degree.
Public policy has also encouraged a shift towards “certification” rather than “degree.” After 18 months of training at EMCC’s Communiversity, an 18 year-old with a high school degree can earn a salary at a local manufacturer in excess of $75,000, which easily exceeds the local average. Most people can earn such certification without taking out loans.
The problem with certification, of course, is that it does not offer the kind of flexibility that a bachelor’s degree does. It will not result in admission to professional programs that result in salaries of six and seven figures. It also will not protect workers from being replaced by robots and other forms of AI.
How will you measure the success of your college education?