Is College for Everyone?

In recent reports published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, it is only about a third of jobs that require an education that goes further than high school. The need for a college education, in particular, the cost is a major issue with American politicians as the student debt now stands at $1.2 trillion, and this is a figure that is still growing and shows no signs of decreasing.

The politicians all have ideas of their own to help with this problem with Bernie Sanders proposing that everyone should be entitled to free college education. Hilary Clinton supports the idea of increasing subsidies for a larger number of people, and Donald Trump has proclaimed his love for those who have a poor education. Sam Clovis, Donald Trump’s co-chair, and policy director stated to Inside Higher Education that certain majors and concentrations should be exempt from borrowing. Therefore, if the student decides that they want to study a narrow subject, such as 16th-century art, this is fine. However, if they are not going to get a job, then it should be self-funded rather than saddling yourself with massive student debt only to find that there are no jobs interested in this skill set.

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It appears currently that only one in every five jobs requires a four-year degree. This is reiterated by the creator of the meme on Facebook which shows the number of jobs requiring a degree vs. the number of people going into debt to earn a degree. It is worth noting that there are four million degrees handed out every year if the job market does not offer the number of positions to correspond with the degrees that people have.

Per the U.S Census, there is about a third of Americans that have a bachelor’s degree and statistics show that there are only about a third of the jobs which require education after high school. The labor bureau does predict major growth in the next ten years of the number of jobs that will require a bachelor degree and more.

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In agreement with research undertaken by Pew Research Center, the difference in the earning potential of high school graduates, as opposed to college graduates, has never been larger proving that another part of the meme which claims that parents did better with their high school diploma than those will with a 4-year degree wrong.

Pew found that college graduates earn approximately $17,500 more than those who only graduate from high school, and this is a pay gap that was significantly smaller in previous years. The same report breaks the data down further with an example of a 50-year-old parent of a college graduate today that graduated in 1984. Without additional education, their income would have been just over $32,000 per year. Their child who has just graduated can expect an income of about $45,000. Therefore a college graduate can expect earnings that are about 40% more of their parents who simply graduated from high school.

The director of Education Policy Studies, Frederick Hess explains that almost everybody could benefit from an education that goes beyond K-12. Frederick went onto to say that the debate over whether or not a college degree would be beneficial could be answered easily. This answer would be that students should go onto education that is customized and streamlined but is something that the gives the student training and credentials that they are going to be able to use immediately.

When talking about Clovis’ suggestion that different majors should have different access to or no loans at all, Hess explained that he felt it would be a good idea to divide risk factors into loan standards. However, he went on to say that he was worried about the government getting into the business of adjusting the loan terms that can be decided regarding the major, the institution or any other criteria. There is also a huge amount of room for political considerations and agendas to get in the way.