The institutions of higher learning, yes the major universities providing ethereal education to nurture the brain, but in too many cases, not the future wallet, are stealing from our young.
Unless you get a very advanced degree in education areas other than STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), the preparation for future earnings is sub-par, maybe non-existent. Student loans received to cover the enormous cost of these ethereal course credits, cannot be paid back – future income is insufficient to both live and pay the student loan.
STEM careers provide a lucrative starting salary and real earnings advancement. No minimum wage marches/demonstrations for these folks. Let’s add one more item to the STEM list – Trades. Plumbing, electrical, welding and others allow for incomes to grow and provide good livings and futures for the holders of these skills. So, now we have STEMT (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Trades).
Let’s face it, college learning in a non-STEMT curriculum simply does not prepare the student to pay back the heavy burden of student loans accumulated to achieve the non-STEMT degree, let’s call them, the soft majors – some are way softer than others.
Community colleges all too often think they are preparing students for a four-year college degree, when they are actually preparing students for future poor paying jobs. We need strong vital courses in the two “T”‘s of of STEMT – technology and trades at the community college level with certifications of learning. Does a computer programmer really need to be exposed to french literature or even a bachelor’s degree?
Today’s student loan system is likely the primary cause of the unrealistic rise in college costs – Forbes magazine and many other publications have written about the inordinate rise of the price of course credits.
These institutions of higher learning, state or private, currently do not need to control internal costs because with the prevalent nature of easy student loans, when tuition (prices) go up, demand remains inelastic – stays strong thanks to the ever-expanding loan amounts. The institution of higher learning has an unrealistic pipeline for earnings, because the money is freely available and payback is not the institution’s problem. A student dropping out still owes the debt, but the institution finds a new sucker to pay the unrealistic tuition.
What if student loan availability and dollar lending were predicated on the future skills being obtained.
Will the french literature expert with a masters earn as much as a skilled welder or cyber coder? Probably not! What if the dollars available under the student loan were tied to the future earnings of the student; and the institution had some skin in the game for payback? Would the institutions feel that the gravy train of bankrupting students to enrich their coffers has come to an end?
We have allowed liberal academia to NOT prepare students for the world and thus create a workforce that is not suited to the nature of today’s jobs. If we don’t start to educate our student raw material with the skills to compete, and build a strong economy along the way, we will continue both a stagnant economic growth and standard of living.
Our graduates today don’t know their history and civics, making them ill prepared to be in charge of this country in the future. Further they need to be educated to perform at a high level in the STEMT workplace – that is where the money and the nation’s future is.
Either we fix this now via state legislation and move student loans back to the banks and the states, away from the federal government, or we continue down this path to a dark future for our nation and our young population. In addition, we need to hold these institutions of higher learning accountable for unpaid student loans, perhaps they should be required to underwrite a portion of the student loan, say 25%, when the loan is granted – a limited co-signer status. This may make the institutions more responsible for the useful education outcome of the student.