Is It Time to Rethink College?


By Joe DiDonato,

ELearning! Editor at Large

You’ve probably all heard some of the statistics around colleges, starting with the $1.1 trillion in student debt. Most of the popular radio stations have been running constant ads about companies willing to help graduates “get control” or ‘relief’ of their student debt. Unfortunately, this is not a problem that’s going to easily rectify itself, as costs keep rising:

>>Public University Tuition is up 163%

>>Private University Tuition is up 100%

Unfortunately, household income hasn’t kept pace, and is only up 8% since 1985. Further compounding the college problem is that 30% of the students don’t graduate; students can’t get courses to finish their degrees in 4 years; and graduates can’t get jobs – 53% are unemployed according to Gallop and Milken Institute polls.

And sadly, only 15% of college students are in Engineering and Science, where many of the high-tech jobs reside. That number compares to 50% in China, 67% in Singapore, and 47% in France. Leland Melvin, head of NASA’s education programs and head of the President’s STEM council, said that there are 1 million jobs that can’t be filled because people lack the requisite skills in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

Equally unfortunate, other recent college graduate research gives even more insight into the problems. These are the responses to poll questions asked of graduates:

>>Was technology at your college up to par? (NO – 75%)

>>Would you go back to the same college, knowing what you know now? (NO – 50%)

>>Was it worth the cost? (NO – 66%)

>>Were you ready for the workforce? (NO – 31%)

>>Would you choose the same major? (NO – 50%)

Did you get a job immediately or up to 4 months after graduating? (NO – 53%)

Tom Kalinske, executive chairman of Global Education Learning, in a keynote speech to learning executives in Anaheim, “When I asked why so many recent graduates can’t find a job, and should the universities be preparing the students better, the president of an elite college recently said, ‘it wasn’t their role to provide an education immediately usable by the private sector – that was up to the businesses themselves.’ I get the point that universities need to teach students how to think and problem solve – and that’s really important. But maybe students need more than courses in liberal arts to be relevant today?”

In another very interesting study on the goals of a “Quality Education,” both parents and college students think the most important reasons to go to college is so they can get a good job and earn more money when they graduate. With this kind of a philosophical disconnect, perhaps it’s time to rethink the model?




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