It's Time!!! It's time to start having the long awaited discussion about the University and the benefit it provides. Families all over this nation are dealing with the rising cost of College, and it's time to objectively look at what we're paying for. We know College is an important growth time in a student's life. We know the University provides a place of learning that helps develop a wonderful mind, but we as a culture must start asking ourselves about the cost/benefit analysis of today's four year Universities.
I've long been doing reserach on the cost of college as we launched the KIVU Gap Year this year. (www.kivugapyear.com) and we did a great deal of study when it came to cost. We wanted to make sure that a potential University Freshman was going to experience something different than at a University year.
I started reading.
One of the first articles I read was John Downer's look at college in the Post Gazette. Downer pens an article, "College, the best years of your life, or a waste of time," He writes, "It's time we take issue with one of America's most sacred cows." And I couldn't agree more. (Click Here to Read Full Article).
The average debt load of America's 4 year college graduate is around $50K. In real terms that means at $350 a month, the educated are paying on college loans for over 20 years. Is it worth it?
TIME Magazine further exacerbates the problem when they wrote the article comparing the cost of the University with the jobs attainable by a college graduate. (Click Here for the Article). It just didn't add up. To pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to carry the most enormous debt, was illogical when taken into an objective conversation.
CNN.com argues the cost is way out of reach compared to other industries in our economy. (Click Here for the Article.)
Sure the cost alone might detour someone from thinking about a 4 year degree, but we've been told our whole lives "Employers need to see a degree" and there's some truth to that. Employers want to make sure someone has the wherewith all to take care of themselves, understand basic concepts, and be sure they can follow through with an assignment. Of course the professional degrees are excluded in this argument, but I'm strictly talking about the average jobs offered after a degree is earned.
I am a fan of the University and the potential a degree might offer. I believe in the process of education in America. People from all over the world come to our colleges and Universities because they are the best. But a USA Today editor just ran an article about a woman with 3 degrees and 25 years of experience, she still can't get a job. (Click Here for the Article.)
After studying over 2300 college students, a recent post on FoxNews.com reveals, " 45 percent of students show no significant improvement in the key measures of critical thinking, complex reasoning and writing by the end of their sophomore year." (Click Here to Read Full Article.)
And I think I know why.
I know the University is an important place for growth. Socially, there's no better place to know the 'real world,' than a place where you have to fend for yourself.
I know the University has important degrees that start from the beginning of the Freshman experience.
But it doesn't take a rocket scientist to peruse your 10 closest college friends on Facebook, look at the photos they post, and you get a sense that Harvard isn't the Harvard of 100 years ago.
The problems at the University today are many.
- There is much more emphasis on research at the larger four year institutions
- The class sizes are too large for any amount of personalized care
- Apart from the professional degree programs, the current class offerings often have little to do with helping students enter the job market
- Experience, Experience, Experience
Kids are bored. They're taking AP classes in High school that rival the classes in College, and they're looking for something deeper. It's almost like the University hasn't adjusted to the current wave of entering Freshman. The Fox Article reported a University of Missouri Freshman Julia Rheinecker, who said her first semester of college largely duplicated the work she completed back home in southern Illinois.
"I'm not going to lie," she said. "Most of what I learned this year I already had in high school. It was almost easier my first semester (in college)."
I believe a revolution of education is on the forefront. The Expensive University is going to have to prove the value of it's expense in a economy that just can't afford it. What does Harvard really offer you for $200K. Ok, Harvard is different. But you don't have to go too far down the USA Today list of top colleges to see the name brand doesn't often drift far from the cost.
I believe our students need to know how to think.
They need to know how to find information.
But most of all they need to experience the world.
They need to know what's out there.
They need to discover their gifts.
They need to take responsibility.
And we believe they can.
In 2010 we launched the KIVU Gap Year program. The purpose is to help Freshman to go and learn about themselves before they enter the University. Believe me, I am a FAN of the University, but I'm not a fan of a social party masking itself as education. I believe if we can offer students a process to migrate to the University setting, we can begin communicating in a way the next generation can hear.
The Students attending the Gap Year are writing about their experience at www.kivugapyear.com, so you don't have to take my word for it. Check out what they're learning, and see how it lines up with the Freshman years at your local University.
As you look into the future, and try to figure out the "best" path, let's be open an honest with our discussions, and try to objectively look at the value of education our colleges and Universities are offering our students.
There's the debate…let's talk it out!