This is the burning question for a many years now:
Is the price too high for what you actually get from a college education?
…I think that is the wrong question….
Let’s look at price first:
The average student loan debt for an average college graduate is around $25,000 and the total amount of student loans has risen past credit card debt ($1,000,000,000,000.00+) ß That’s more than one TRILLION dollars. That $25,000 makes no sense to me since I have way more than that and I’m sure many others do too. Ask people who went to college in the 80’s and 90’s how much it cost them to go to college. I’ll bet 100% on it them saying it was cheaper than it is now (including inflation in the equation).
Couple fun statistics on price:
1. The price of education, per year on average, rises 3x as much as our inflation rate.
2. The Goldwater Institute reported that the number of administrator’s per 100 students grew 39% from 1993-2007. (One reason why the cost is increasing – why do we need 3.9 more administrator’s for each student?)
College students don’t understand how limiting student loan debt is until they actually get the first bill. From personal experience, I need to make a certain amount of money in order to pay not only my living expenses, but my student loans as well. I’m fortunate enough I am able to afford it, and live too, but most recent college graduates are not.
The point on price: It’s rising FAST. Everyone wants more kids out of high school to go to college. Well if more go to college, costs will go up even more in the current financial model. It slows down the economy for the United States. How can recent college graduates help the economy, if they are drowning in student loans? If we want more kids to go to college, we not only have to change the way we teach (which is a whole different blog post), but we have to make it more economical.
Now let’s focus on value:
It’s hard to say. I don’t really believe that it can be purely a financial calculation. There is a lot of intangible value that education brings:
From a purely financial standpoint: (1) Tuition prices are rising faster than American incomes (2) delinquent payments and deferments are at an all-time high. I would have to guess that if education was worth it, delinquent payments and deferments would be going down and American incomes would be going up because we have more people than ever getting degrees? I’m no economist, but that’s just my guess.
Point on value: Looking from a purely financial point of view it seems like college is becoming less and less valuable to the individual. The new things you learn, the people you meet, the experiences you have, however, can’t have a price put on them.
The only way I see it, is if I can answer the question myself personally? To ask me if I think the price of education is more than the value of it, I’d have to say I honestly don’t know yet. I am happy I went to school for many reasons. I think I could have went to school for a whole lot cheaper.
But I don’t believe that it’s about value vs. price – I think it’s about asking different questions:
Is it ethically and morally right to have education costs be as high as they are when there are obvious ways in which we can make it more affordable for students? Is it good for the future economy and our future kids to keep prices on education rising the way they are? Is teaching in the traditional system going to be financially sustainable enough to give future generations a competitive chance in the global economy?
The whole problem is not value vs price. It’s the system in which the government, educational institutions, and corporate America make it seem it’s the only option for the masses to grow financially and professionally. Right now, they say the only acceptable road to a professional more promising life, for the masses, is a one way street that includes a heavy toll. It’s not that there is physically only one road, because there are many new, beautifully paved roads waiting to be used that have been built way cheaper and much more effective. The problem is we just have government, educational institutions and corporate America blocking those roads. If we can take the barricades off these newly formed paths, education will become more affordable than ever. Once corporate America starts accepting alternative and cheaper forms of education into the workforce, then you’ll see the revolution start to happen, and I think it could happen FAST! (Note 1: Alternative and cheaper does not mean less qualified. The solutions I am talking about could potentially make people even more qualified.)
It is insane to me to think that there are better and more economical ways to teach more people to be better citizens and contribute more to society starring in our face as we speak, but we can’t get out of our own way to let it happen.
In a future post I am going to talk about some ideas I have that could dramatically decrease the cost for an individual to go to college. If you have ideas, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or leave a comment on Facebook. Would love to hear your ideas on how to make education not only better but more economical.
Before you get all crazy on me, let me define what I mean by the title. I hope my kids won’t go to college if college is defined then exactly as it is now. This does not mean that I do not want them to expand on their learning, open up to new cultures, grow into an adult, or to explore who they really are. College may be the place to do that, but I think the value of college has to be way better than it is now. There needs to be some major changes, and the price somehow needs to go way down for the students.
This is the first of a series of posts I am going to write about the US Education System. My primary focus will be around the college education system, even though I will hit on high school and elementary school as well. This post is to set the stage to the introductions of the posts to follow. Here are just some points that I will be expanding on in later posts.
1. The value of a college education is WAY LESS than the price of it – When you get that fancy looking piece of paper in May, you shake the dean’s hand and start walking and say, “I did it.” Then, you wake up the next day, probably with a hangover, and most graduates realize that they don’t even have a job to pay for not only their daily living expenses, but their thousands and thousands of dollars of student loan debt. How much are you paying in student loans? Was there any way you could have went to college for less than that bill?
2. A college degree is the new norm, it doesn’t help you stand out – When my parents were my age and especially their parents, a college degree was a ticket into white collar jobs. All you had to do is go through the motions in college and if you had a degree, you were on your way to business success. Now there are more people going to college than ever before and degrees are everywhere. Too much supply and not enough demand. How many people do you think have a 3.8 GPA with a Finance Degree? How many do you think have a 4.0 with a Communications Degree? Answer to both: Enough not to make the degree stand out!
3. Education’s goal is to get you a degree. This is a SAD truth – The goal for high school is to get you to college. The goal for college is to get you a degree from their college. It helps their ratings, it helps their government access to grants, and it helps them keep a flow of students rolling into their buildings. More students, more graduates, more money. That’s it, and this “pick, pack, ship” factory mindset is setting up students to fail these days. Our parents, teachers, and government sadly tell us that if you get a college degree you will get a good job and succeed. They are wrong! A degree is just not enough anymore. What should the goal of education be?
4. One way or the highway – College education doesn’t allow you to explore your own track, and expand on your thoughts. There is a list of classes to check off in your 4 years of school. If you check off the box in the correct semester, you are on track! Yes, on track to get a degree. If you want to change majors, you will fall behind and spend more money. We’re left with the decision of spending more money or going with the major we thought we would like but found out we hate. How can we help students explore their thoughts and interests without spending more money.
5. Companies request certain jobs have college degrees – Big companies are looking for people with college degrees as a prerequisite. Why is that? What does a resume after college really say? What do employers say about a college education? I’m sure every employer would rather take learning over credentials, but sadly employers put way too much trust in the education system. I’m not saying we don’t learn anything, but we could definitely develop a lot more ways to learn a lot more to be more equipped for our first jobs.
6. Learning is for the first 22 years of your life and then you work – Learning is a lifelong commitment. All of the very successful people in business will tell you that they never stop learning. Our education system is not developing our minds like that. They develop our minds to memorize facts for the next test, then move on to a bunch of new facts all the while forgetting what they learned before.
7. Who is changing the game – There are many companies out there who are in the middle of trying to improve education. Have you heard of Udacity? How about the Khan Academy? Check out Coursera as well. All of these companies have great ideas!
8. Advantages of the traditional school system – Everyone talks about how TERRIBLE the recent education system is. Based on inequality, cost, unions, curriculum style, and all the other things I have mentioned, it is. I do, however, believe that there are some great qualities in our system that we need to magnify.
9. Teachers and Parents – The battle between parents, teachers, and coaches has gotten out of hand. Instead of looking in the mirror together, they’re point fingers at each other. What are their roles? Where are they today? How do they need to change?
10. Solutions, Solutions, Solutions – Everyone talks about the problems. Well, how about the solutions? How can we pay the great teachers great pay? What will a new college look like in our educational system? How much will it cost? I will try to take a crack at my ideas for solutions.
My argument is a college degree is not the only road for the masses to succeed. With technology, the modern job market, and education costs the way they are today, there are much better options for a cheaper way to explore what you want to do with your life. This is a HUGE challenge that will be a big “battleship” to turn. We will need a ton of people to join the cause.
· We will need to sell employers on understanding skills, and actual work will be the true measure of experience, not a degree.
· We will have to sell parents on school may be more of a risky investment for your kid that it ever has been before.
· We will have to sell schools on changing their education models to make their degree more valuable. Or sell them to get rid of degrees all together.
· We will have to sell the kids, and create ways, for them to engage in their education to learn more and have them advance their skills where they see fit.
· We will have to sell our government on creating new standards for education.
· We will have to give our teachers the authority to expand their teachings and not worry about what is required for 10th grade students to memorize and pass in order to get to 11th grade.
· We will have to get companies to invest and partner in private sector education so they can keep their businesses thriving as new generations come into them.
I look forward to sharing my thoughts on this topic with you as the days and weeks go by. Please e-mail me, comment, and join the conversation anywhere you can. I am also looking for great websites and organizations who are working on this fight as well. If you have any in mind, please e-mail them to me.
To my past avid fans….and maybe even some newcomers,
(I apologize for the long post in advance. If you’re crunched with time, skip down to the bottom to #4 for my exciting announcement).
If you are reading this, that probably means that you have read my blog before. Hopefully, you found some value in it when you read it in the past. Today, June 20th, is exactly a year to the date since my last blog post (June 20, 2011).
I truly never wanted to stop blogging. I actually enjoyed it and the few comments that I received about it were awesome. For some reason I stopped. Maybe I ran out of things to say. Well that’s impossible, I always have something to say, but I want to make sure I have readers reading things only of value. I think I pushed myself a little over the limit with trying to write content every day right out of the gate of being a new blogger. But long story short, my blog is back and I am more excited than ever. Sometimes it may be good to take a break from something, like take a year off from college and explore the world or take a year off and travel. I’m not an expert and parents probably hate that idea, but if you stop something and you start missing it that may just tell you something.
Few different things…and one EXCITING announcement.
1. I truly hope to give you content that can be incredibly valuable to you. If I feel like I am stretching, I am not going to post content. My goal is to be able to provide phenomenal content, like my idol Seth Godin does every day, but I am going to have to work my way into that. (If you want to read Seth’s blog every day, and you should, here is his website: www.sethgodin.com)
2. If you did read my blog regularly more than a year ago, you may just remember how I created a “Top 25 Things to do before I’m 25” list. I’ll give you a quick refresher and if you’re new to this blog, here it is:
A friend of mine and I sat down one night, probably over a few glasses of red wine, or Jameson, and decided that it would be a good idea to write down 25 Things to Do Before We’re 25(Kinda like a 1/4 life bucket list…it would be sweet if I live until 100). We created the list and have been working on it ever since…well kinda…I have been crossing off some things on my list rather slowly and have a lot of things left to do. It’s going to be a tight finish, but I’m sure I will get it done. On the top left hand side of my blog you can click the tab under my picture that is labeled Top 25 where you will find the things I have accomplished. I have just under 6 months left!!!
3. If you didn’t already notice, I deleted all of my past posts off of this website. There are a few reasons in my head why I did it, and maybe one odd reason was to start with a clean slate. I saved the blog posts to my own desktop, however, and in the future you may see some old but revised ones. If you want to have a copy of my “First 100 Blog Posts” e-mail or Facebook me and I’ll send them to you. You’ll just have to write a check for $99.99 to Michael Sherman’s Student Loan Fund. (I’m kidding, I’ll give them to you for free in a pdf.)
What is interesting about adding all of my posts to a word document is that by writing a little bit almost every day for just a half of a year, I have over 68 word document pages full of content. This goes to show that small steps each day can make for one giant leap over time.
4. FINALLY for the BIG ANNOUCNEMENT: One of the biggest challenges on my Top 25 List was to write a book. I am excited/a little nervous to tell you that I have finished my first draft. I will be launching my first book on my 25th birthday, December 17th , 2012.
I am telling you this now for a couple reasons.
a. If you have already looked at my TOP 25 list, you’ll notice I am a procrastinator and wait until the last second to do everything. If I didn’t announce my book today, then I probably would have waited until November to tell you, and it would not be something I was proud of. I am hoping that my first book, whoever reads it, will provide at least a little bit of value and something that I am proud to share with anyone who is willing to read it.
b. Also, because it literally is my first rough draft and I mean rough, rough, rough, rough draft, I have a lot of work ahead of me. There are many things that I have yet to do. I am hoping to share the tough ride with you. I will be sharing all the decisions around publishing it, pricing it (or giving it away), designing it, editing it, marketing it, etc.
Writing the first draft was extremely difficult, and I know the work hasn’t even started yet. Hopefully by you following my progress in the next 5 months, it may inspire you to write a book as well and may inspire me to keep working hard.
So, if you would like to follow my tough climb to creating my first book ever, I will be sending out an e-mails periodically throughout the 5 month process to a list of people who are interested If you want to be a part of it, please send me your e-mail to email@example.com, and I’ll make sure you get on the mailing list. My first e-mail will come to you within the next 3 weeks. Look forward to sharing this experience with you!!
If you made it this far I want to say first, thanks for hanging in there throughout this long post. I am truly excited to have my blog back up and running and hopefully this time 10000000 times better and for good. Thanks for reading.