Student loan debt is a problem in the United States. US borrowers carry about $ 2 trillion in debt. The higher education system is a mess. The societal obsession with credibility is nuts. And it will require massive reforms to the system to get any closer to combating this problem. One issue worth addressing is perhaps the most pernicious form of student loan debt: debt built up by college dropouts. This is why high dropout rates need to be addressed.
The media screws up with the public perception of who we think of when we think of student loan debtors. We see stories about people with bachelor’s degrees with more than $ 200,000 in debt; sometimes it’s someone who went to school for a low-paying major and works a low-paying job. Other times, it’s the medical school student who graduated with $ 450,000 in debt. Medical school students graduating with debt are not the biggest problem; they earn degrees with which they can make a lot of money. There are ways to reduce costs there. Having six-year programs like the rest of the world instead of eight years is a start. However, the country faces bigger problems when it comes to student loan debt.
The more urgent issue may seem more like the following scenario. Someone is going to university. For some reason they fall out. Therefore, they spent money on higher education and get nothing back. They do not obtain a degree. However, they accumulate student loan debt and are theoretically worse off than when they started. About 40% of college students do not graduate within six years, as many people describe it. The lack of a piece of paper still makes it difficult for them to get certain jobs in a field of their interest, they are poorer when they started, and there is an opportunity cost to attend university. It’s time one can spend working and making money.
As I learned by attending one year of college, many people drop out for non-academic reasons. I got all the Aces and Bs in the year I went to Emerson College, but was excited to quit. People drop out for several reasons. Cost is one reason. Many people work when they go to school. Some have family issues that need to be addressed — including pregnancies. And some just hate school – especially when they’re surrounded all day by a bunch of cheesy white-privileged snowflakes and a 90-minute commute to school on both sides.
Work-life balance (54 percent) and high costs (31 percent) are the main reasons people argue for dropping out, according to the Public Agenda. These two problems seem preventable. Scheduling is an easy one. If people have to work full-time or close to full-time, consistent school hours can be a barrier to obtaining a degree. Online teaching exists, but it is usually rigid like personal classes. Online college that one can complete at their own pace can help combat this problem. Maybe they give students six months or so to complete a specific class, and they can work on it at their own pace. The point of higher education should be to acquire the necessary skills to get a job.
If the only time anyone can fit it in is at three o’clock on Wednesday mornings and nine o’clock on Sunday evenings, why do they deny them the opportunity to learn?
Some people may be worried about fraud in online education, but an easy answer exists. If someone cheats their way through school and is completely incompetent and unqualified for a job, the employer will find out. On top of that, it’s hard to wing through a job interview.
How much would it cost for a community college to administer something like that? A class of pre-recorded lectures, PowerPoint presentations, assigned lectures, and so on? Maybe programs like these need some people to rate some tasks, but self-rating tests exist. If schools inflate other departments, they will have no problem paying for this program. The wonderful thing about such a program is that a community college can have anyone of any age take these classes. If a smart underclassman wants to earn some credits in high school, great; they can earn a university degree by the time they finish high school.