Colleges and universities are big companies and big business. Their partners are huge businesses with a big appetite for survival. There is no problem with that – unless what they say to survive is not the whole story on how they impact you.

Years of research, teaching and dealing with incomplete information coming from colleges and universities, banks, college recruiters and others has compelled me to assemble this list as part warning, part checklist and part sobering review for students, parents and others considering the college option.

My experience has taught me to dig deeper and get more information that what I receive from those with a vested financial interest in my business. You take it for what it’s worth to you.

1. The overall college drop-out rate is far worse than the high school drop-out rate, and high school drop-out rates are at epidemic levels. Look up four year and six year graduation rates on the FAFSA website. There are numbers reported by the colleges themselves. It is sobering. My face to face conversation with students and parents are even more sobering.

2. College student loan debt default rates have risen steadily every year since 2005 and are now approaching 10%. Loans at least 90 days late now account for over 11% of all loans. Student loans debts has surpassed $1 trillion dollars and is greater than the total amount of credit card debt in the United States. The average college student graduates with between $25,000 to $30,000 of debt, and many have debt exceeding $100,000 or more. Close to 90% of college students require financial aid to attend and complete formal, higher education.

3. College students show virtually no net increasing in learning between starting college and the beginning of their junior year. This is according to research by Dr. Richard Arum, University of New York and Dr. Josipa Roksa, University of Virginia detailed in their book entitled Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses. Their follow-up book, according to Dr. Arum, is not going to do much to alleviate many fears on this topic.

4. The average length of time required to complete a “four year” college degree is now six years. The most favorable data on the college completion rate is that 59% of those who start college finish within six years. The number graduating within the standard four years is far less. Again, see the numbers on the FAFSA website.

5. Without asterisks and disclaimers, colleges and universities can no longer claim that earning a degree will insure a better standard of living for the graduate versus non-graduates. More students than ever are returning home to live with their parents. Teen and student employment is at record highs. The number of college graduates taking minimum wage jobs is rising fast.

6. At nearly all liberal arts, public and private colleges and universities, the number of college administrators is exploding disproportionately larger than the ranks of professors and instructors. This imbalance and the dramatic increase in class sizes is widely regarded as detrimental to the quality of education in the United States. Additionally, administrative units at colleges are demanding and achieving greater power and administrative muscle over their academic counterparts. As colleges expand, they are spending their money on administrative resources, not instructional resources as evidenced by dramatic shifts in student-to-faculty and student-to-administrator ratios since 1975.

7. At nearly all liberal arts schools, the number of part-time adjunct instructors is growing disproportionately larger than number of PhD level college professors assigned to the classroom.

8. Forbes Magazine published an article indicating that the average college student would now do better financially to work a full-time job during the time they would have spent 4-6 six years at a college or university and not incur the normal debt required to complete a degree.

9. A recent article published in papers across the country indicated that as many as 47% of the jobs available to students now will disappear in the future due to technological changes.

10. A large percentage of college students don’t get jobs in their chosen field of study.

11. Drug and alcohol misuse on college campuses is a leading factor in sub-standard academic performance resulting in young people leaving college before they graduate. In many cases, 25% of college freshmen leave college before the end of their first year due to academic deficiencies complicated by drug and alcohol misuse.

12. The number of people with college degrees who have filed bankruptcy in the past several years has jumped close to 60%, narrowing the gap between traditional filers with lower incomes.

13. A Stanford University recruiter openly admits in the film, The Race To Nowhere, that colleges and universities are putting unnecessary and extraordinary pressure on high school students that results in significant mental and physical health challenges for students and their families, including suicide.

14. The banking, financial, academic and political systems that encourage you to go to college have perfected the result of making you feel guilty or sorry if you don’t go, without citing evidence of the problems brought about by failure and lack of preparation for college and university life.

15. Because of the relationship between these four segments of the economy, college tuitions rose 248% between 1990-2008 – more than any other measurable industry, major product or segment of the economy.

16. Fueled by technology and innovation, auto-didactic learning or self-teaching is growing in popularity as a way to create focused learning without the time, financial and health constraints of a failing traditional education model.

17. Over the past generation, as colleges and universities have spent billions of dollars on assessment systems and administration, academic performance of college students has dropped substantially and the dissatisfaction of the private sector with the quality of graduates has increased. Formal learning and assessment systems implemented by colleges and universities are not working; and they are failing the students, families, communities and businesses they serve.

18. Alternatives to the traditional education model are expanding rapidly. Online education tools are forcing colleges to respond to competition as opposed to colleges taking the lead on new and innovative forms of education.

19. Employers, in a variety of surveys and studies, indicate that they are increasingly dissatisfied with overall product of colleges and universities. Google has begun to approach high school students in a effort to gain better control and influence over the education of students and to insure that they get the kinds of students that will fit their business model best.

 

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