The #1 challenge of higher education is COST.
The inflation of college tuition has been compounded with readily available federal subsidies (loans), which allowed universities to increase their tuition at astounding rates over the past decade.
University administrators constantly justify these costs by saying, “Most of our students do not pay the $XX,XXX a year of tuition”, which is a non-reason (excuse). These administrators do not explain:
Administration overhead at higher education establishments have caused most of these tuition hikes because universities certainly aren’t hiring more tenured professors to improve a quality of education; why pay more when you can get adjunct instructors for cheaper? Don’t forget those expensive buildings that universities like to erect; today’s higher educational institutions look as much a world class recreational facility as the world class educational facility, costing world class overhead budgets.
Many middle-class families DO NOT qualify for aid, which means universities play a hand in systematically squeezing the middle class and knocking them down one or two notches in socioeconomic standing over time. Add to this the terrifying trend of reduced social mobility and we begin to see how the wealth gap can only worsen in the future.
Now we have graduated with bachelor degrees carrying heavy debt burden, and many of these students aren’t even done with schooling. Because of the current economy, many students go to graduate school because:
Their career choices require graduate level education (lawyers, doctors, more and more engineers). Today’s bachelor degree is starting to have the same value as yesterday’s high school diploma: a bachelor’s degree is becoming the bare minimum for many employers. They can’t find a job in their major, and instead of having gaps in their resumes, they go back to school for a masters degree or doctorate degree so they don’t appear idle.
No wonder we can’t “follow our passions” – those of us who have identified clear passions to follow – when these do not coincide with practical, market-demanding careers.
If our parents aren’t rich enough to afford us choices to study arts and humanities (Rich Kids Major in English), we either go into 6-figure debt gambling on a future job that pays, or we settle for a more practical career that offers more assurance to pay wages that allow for debt repayment and future-life-building. Some of us are fortunate to aspire to practical careers. Some of us have to suck it up to the birth lottery and learn to love accounting even if our hearts are set on Medieval English Literature.