One of the most commonly used arguments in favor of the current status quo in college today is you will earn more money over the course of your life with a college degree than without one. It seems to me that at one point that was true but is it still true?
Daniel S Christian wrote an excellent post a few days ago where he talked about the “Perfect Storm” in higher education. First, I totally agree with his “storm” metaphor with what is heading for higher education. Second, I came across another graph to add to his argument.
This graph shows that while wealthy students will earn more with a degree, it is no longer true (if it ever was) for middle class and poor people. Is it smart to create a generation of faux-indentured servants as people take on massive amounts of debt that they will have great difficulty in discharging?
On a side note, at what point in the US did we stop teaching basic economics? The President wants a tax hike on the rich that will fund the government for about 8 days. This is meaningless and yet half the country is all for it. The massive deficit in the US is being funded largely by printing money, thus devaluing the currency. Savings interest rates are effectively zero so coupled with inflation it means people are actually worth less each year despite trying to save some money. All of this leads to a sinking level of consumer confidence. (see Japan, lost decade) Students will only be willing to take out massive loans if they feel they will get a reward from their debt and keep in mind this is not about facts or figures, it is about perception. If this changes, then one of my 7 Assumptions That Must Be True For Continued University Survival is no longer valid.
I am very concerned about all this. It’s important to realize that higher education doesn’t exist in a bubble. There is no guarantee that the next generation of students will show up… that is why I call this time a Stormfront of change. The education system is a reflection of the society it exists in and that society is changing rapidly.