Michigan Education: Why Teens Are Saying College Isn’t Worth It
Ask any teacher who has taught in a kindergarten through 12th-grade classroom they will tell you without blinking or hesitating that college is not for everyone. If that teacher trusts you they might even share how early they can tell that a student just isn't built for continuing education.
Parents have been wrestling with this decision for years as well. Many families have unwittingly forced a college education on someone who wasn't built for it. It seems that an increasing number of high school students are learning this season themselves, and colleges need to pay attention or lose more enrollment.
In a recent study, conducted by the education research firm EAB and reported on by the Washington Times, 20,324 high school students from across the United States were surveyed. When they asked those students who were opting out of college why, 20% of them felt that "college isn't worth the cost".
This was the most common answer given, in the 2022 survey, which is up from 17% in 2021 and just 8% in 2019. What other reasons did they give? Doubts about their ability to succeed in a college environment and mental health issues were the other two most common answers in Michigan, and across the United States.
College costs are rising in the Great Lakes State and trade schools offer lower rates, less time, and job placement. The US Military offers a myriad of options that include money for a degree when you complete your contract. Post-high school education doesn't mean college.
Hope Krutz, who works for EAB (the college research firm that conducted the study) told the Washington Times:
Students and families should keep cost and [return on investment] top of mind as they consider whether or where to attend college, they should also bear in mind that college graduates earn, on average, more than $1 million more over their lifetime than those with only a high school diploma.
Keep in mind that EAB is in the business of increasing enrollment within colleges and universities so their opinion may lean towards the "get a degree" camp. Interestingly though, the Washington Times also interviewed former Education Secretary William Bennet and asked his thoughts, which may surprise you:
More students are deciding it doesn’t pay to go to college because, for most of them, it’s a fact, half of kids who start college don’t finish and end up loaded down with student loan debt. For the rest, finding a good job depends on going to a top 15 school like Stanford or majoring in a STEM field.
Some experts speculate that high school students are making more educated decisions not based on their future, but on an immediate economic basis and determining whether or not a degree is worth the investment, or as Ronald Rychlak, a former associate dean at the University of Mississippi said to the Washington Times:
For too long, college administrators have ignored the price of higher education, knowing that students could obtain subsidized loans to pay for it, we’ve finally hit the point where students are looking at prices and making market-driven decisions.
One can only hope that Rychlak is right, at that those in charge take notice that the price of a degree is far beyond many or a weight people are dragging behind them for what feels like the rest of their lives.
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