One of the biggest grievances young Americans have today is the student loan debt which seems to have hit this generation harder than their predecessors. According to the Chamber of Commerce, the average student loan debt in 2016 was just north of 37-thousand dollars and reflected an increase of 78 percent from ten years earlier. It seems obvious that nobody should start their career saddled with a large debt, but we seem to invite this on ourselves.
This may be the result of unintended consequences. Often, when government intends to fix something it sees as broken, they cause other problems that are arguably worse. In this case, there is the ever-increasing price of higher education and the ever-decreasing ability of the degree to get graduates in their chosen field. Today only 27 percent of graduates find work in their chosen field.
Because the government will continually spend more money for more expensive degrees and will even finance degrees with low probabilities of producing income in the future, an obvious culprit is the government itself. However, we all know that this is the way government programs work. Name a government program that solved a problem on time and under budget and then dissolved because the problem has been solved. Sadly, we can’t expect government to operate in that manner.
So, we should aim our blame at our institutions of knowledge. Should they not understand the idea of ‘Return on Investment’? Do they not understand the idea of ethics? Who should we turn to for advice on which education is a good value, except for our institutions of higher learning? These esteemed scholars should see that imposing costs that double the rate of inflation on students is not the right path.
So, big surprise, the solution our politicians see is to forgive student loan debt. This failure of a program has not solved a problem, has not improved our education system, and is not shutting down. Instead, it’s become sentient and has figured a way to pay for itself, largely on the backs of those who didn’t go to college. Unwilling to speak up and claim some level of culpability are our educational leaders; those who would produce the future leaders instead seem happy to build their playgrounds for twenty-year-olds who will pay the price, along with the rest of society.
We should see our institutions of higher learning for what they are: cadres of cowardly charlatans who lobby for more money because Americans have become hypnotized by the benefit of obtaining a higher education. As parents and citizens, it is our charge to determine the value of a degree, reject easy loans, and choose institutions that attempt to keep costs low and provide a good return on investment. Further, reject any psychological ties to an alma mater that does not uphold these value standards. Employers can help by rejecting the notion that a degree is a hurdle everybody must clear before consideration.
These institutions held a beloved place in our hearts, but they didn’t love us back. They’ve rejected academia in favor of profits and that’s not helping our students become the leaders we need them to be. Instead, this model puts our youth in the awful position of looking for a job unprepared and saddled with debt. We should expect better or reject these institutions.