Why fewer Americans are going to college

Discussion in 'Education' started by kazenatsu, Jul 18, 2023.

  1. kazenatsu

    kazenatsu Well-Known Member Past Donor

    Joined:
    May 15, 2017
    Messages:
    35,099
    Likes Received:
    11,439
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Fewer numbers of young Americans are going to college and deciding to get a 4-year university degree.
    This is dramatic, unprecedented, and to many people very concerning.

    Some might see this as yet another indicator of America's decline.

    I've highlighted and paraphrased just a few select parts from the article.

    The proportion of high school graduates in Tennessee who are going directly to college is plummeting. Last year, it was less than 53 percent. That’s down 11 percentage points since 2017.

    There is a continuing slide in the number of Americans willing to invest the money and the time it takes to go to college. It's a trend that some experts worry is likely to diminish people’s quality of life and the country’s economic competitiveness.

    "With the exception of wartime, the United States has never been through a period of declining educational attainment like this," said Michael Hicks, director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at Ball State University. There has been a significant and steady drop nationwide in the proportion of high school graduates enrolling in college in the fall after they finish high school - from a high of 70 percent in 2016 to 63 percent in 2020, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

    Many observers have suggested three principal explanations for the falloff: the Covid-19 pandemic, a dip in the number of Americans under 18 and a strong labor market sucking young people straight into the workforce. But while the pandemic made things worse, the enrollment downturn took hold well before it started; there were already two and a half million fewer students at colleges and universities by the time that Covid set in than there were in 2012. Another million and a half have disappeared since then.

    Demographics alone cannot explain the scale of this drop. And statistics belie the claim that recent high school graduates are getting jobs instead of going to college; workforce participation for 16- to 24-year-olds is actually lower than it was before Covid hit, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports.

    Myriad focus groups and public opinion surveys point to other reasons for the dramatic downward trend. These include widespread and fast-growing skepticism about the value of a degree, impatience with the time it takes to get one and costs that have finally exceeded many people’s ability or willingness to pay.

    The proportion of high school graduates going to college in Indiana dropped to 53 percent in 2020, down by 12 percentage points from five years earlier -- a pace Commissioner for Higher Education Chris Lowery has called "alarming". In West Virginia, 46 percent of 2021 high school graduates went on to college the following fall, 10 percent below that state's high of 56 percent in 2010. Fifty-four percent of 2021 high school grads in Michigan went straight to college, down 11 percent from 2016. In Arizona, 46 percent of high school graduates in 2020 went to college the following fall, a drop from more than 55 percent in 2017. In Alabama, recent high school graduates’ college-going in 2020 fell to 54 percent, down 11 percent since 2014; and in Idaho, to 39 percent, down 11 percent since 2017.

    Americans are increasingly dubious about the need to go to college. Fewer than one in three adults now say a degree is worth the cost, according to a survey by the Strada Education Network.

    There is growing dissatisfaction among recent university and college graduates with the value of the education they received. More than four in 10 bachelor's (4-year degree) holders under 45 did not agree that the benefits of their educations exceeded the costs, according to a survey by the Federal Reserve. Only a quarter of recent grads in another survey, by the educational publishing and technology company Cengage, said that, if they could do it again, they would take the same educational path. That adds up to a lot of bad reviews passed down to younger siblings and classmates, who consider family and friends the most trustworthy sources about whether and where to go to college, according to a survey by Vox Global.
    "If you don’t believe your degree was worth the cost and you tell everybody that, that has a huge impact."

    Meanwhile, months of discussion about whether the Biden administration will forgive all or some student loan debt has had an unintended consequence: It has reminded prospective learners just how much people before them had to borrow to pay for college. So has the fact that many of their parents are still paying back their student loans.

    Between 2015 and 2019, Americans' faith in higher education dropped more than their confidence in any other institution measured by the Gallup polling organization -- an extraordinary erosion of trust, considering that list includes the presidency, Congress, big business and the criminal justice system.

    Yet since the start of the pandemic, the proportion of 14- to 18-year-olds who think education is necessary beyond high school has dropped from 60 percent to 45 percent. More than half of teenagers who are planning on some further education say they are open to something other than a four-year degree.

    It's not only recent high school graduates who are turning their backs on higher education. The number of students over 24 who are going for the first time or returning to college has also steadily declined, by a total of 12 percent in the five years between the spring of 2017 and the spring of 2022.

    Community colleges have seen the most dramatic declines in enrollment.

    The growing disparities in college-going could widen the fissures already polarizing American society. "Places like Los Angeles or D.C. or Chicago, they're going to continue to draw a lot of college graduates."

    How higher education lost its shine Americans are rejecting college in record numbers, but the reasons may not be what you think, Jon Marcus, August 10, 2022, The Hechinger Report

    You can read the comments in the very bottom of the page in the link.
     
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2023
    AARguy likes this.
  2. AARguy

    AARguy Banned

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2021
    Messages:
    14,265
    Likes Received:
    6,665
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    "College degree" has many meanings. It can be the educational background of a doctor.. or a welder... an HR specialist... or a designer of the space station... of a music teacher... or a Wall Street broker. It is quite obvious to me that someone who went heavily into debt to get a degree in "Women's Studies" or a general liberal arts degree could be very disappointed with the value of the degree. There are so many variations! Generally, if you get and engineering degree, you will be able to design and build things that can be sold for profit and make money for the individual and the company he works for, In these days, where everyone has an iPhone but few can explain how they actually work, an engineering degree can be quite lucrative. A degree in music, on the other hand, pretty much limits your opportunities.
    My point is that college degrees are as varied the books in a library. And so is their value,
    And its just as important to choose the institution you at5tend. A degree in Physics from MIT has little in common with a degree in psychology from Ladycliffe College (what's that?)
    Equating all college degrees under the common moniker of "college degree" is like equating all automobiles under the moniker of "car" whether they are rusted out '57 Chevies or a brand new Rolls Royce. The differences... make a BIG difference.
     
  3. kazenatsu

    kazenatsu Well-Known Member Past Donor

    Joined:
    May 15, 2017
    Messages:
    35,099
    Likes Received:
    11,439
    Trophy Points:
    113
    I'm not sure if this is really true. I think a lot of older people might just be assuming that but really have no idea what the job marketplace currently looks like for engineering graduates. I am talking about within the last 8 years or so.
    I do know of a close family friend who worked as an engineer at an aerospace company for over 15 years. He lost his job during the 2007 Recession and was not able to find another engineering job in that area, despite a job search that went on for over 4 years. I have not kept up to date with his current life circumstances but the last I heard he was taking odd jobs working as a handyman and had been forced into early retirement, which was not easy for him or his family. A lot of the engineering jobs that used to exist in the U.S. got outsourced to China along with the rest of the manufacturing industry. Disappeared around 2005.
     
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2023
  4. AARguy

    AARguy Banned

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2021
    Messages:
    14,265
    Likes Received:
    6,665
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    By "in that area" do you mean geographical location? Or area type of engineering? As an electrical engineer, stayed constantly employed, changing jobs with some frequency and always with an increase in salary. But I loved relocating all the time. As a very wise secretary once told me: "Being in the world and only living in one place is like living in a library and only reading one book".
    There are no rules for success... just opportunities.
     
  5. kazenatsu

    kazenatsu Well-Known Member Past Donor

    Joined:
    May 15, 2017
    Messages:
    35,099
    Likes Received:
    11,439
    Trophy Points:
    113
    There are a lot of old people who just assume the world as it currently is must be just like the world when they knew it, 20 or 30 years ago.

    It's because older people really have no frame of reference and have not really partaken in any of these forms of economic activity - trying to rent, buy a house, go to college, searching for a job - in more than 30 years.
    Yet oftentimes very ignorantly think they know what the world is like for young people.

    Most of the really old people who might actually have some real understanding of what young people are dealing with today are already dead - born around 1910 to 1915, surviving as a young adult during the Great Depression.
     
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2023
  6. AARguy

    AARguy Banned

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2021
    Messages:
    14,265
    Likes Received:
    6,665
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Oh NO!!!
    I'M A VICTIM!!!
    POOR WIDDLE ME!!!!
    In about 20,000 years of human history... we... the new generation,,, have all sorts of problems never... NEVER... ever seen before! There have been PLAGUES! WARS! Genghis Kahn and Pol Pot! But no one in history has ever had any problems compared to buying a house today!!!
    OH WO IS US!!! SOB!!!
     
  7. kazenatsu

    kazenatsu Well-Known Member Past Donor

    Joined:
    May 15, 2017
    Messages:
    35,099
    Likes Received:
    11,439
    Trophy Points:
    113
    I'm just saying, if the height of your career was in the 1970s or 80s, you really can not claim you know what economic circumstances are like for younger adults.
    All of your experience comes from a different time when things were different.
     
  8. AARguy

    AARguy Banned

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2021
    Messages:
    14,265
    Likes Received:
    6,665
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    In what way? I bought my first house (in Virginia) in 1982. The interest rate was 14.5%. I was earning about $1900 a month (before taxes) as a new Army Captain. I was newly married with all the debts... furniture, car, etc. Is it harder now?
     
  9. kazenatsu

    kazenatsu Well-Known Member Past Donor

    Joined:
    May 15, 2017
    Messages:
    35,099
    Likes Received:
    11,439
    Trophy Points:
    113
    How about you start a separate thread and try doing some math?
    You know, stuff like trying to figure out some idea of how much that home you lived in might cost today, and compare that to how much an army captain earns these days.
     
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2023
  10. AARguy

    AARguy Banned

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2021
    Messages:
    14,265
    Likes Received:
    6,665
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    The big increases in military pay happened when the draft ended,,, years earlier.
     
  11. kazenatsu

    kazenatsu Well-Known Member Past Donor

    Joined:
    May 15, 2017
    Messages:
    35,099
    Likes Received:
    11,439
    Trophy Points:
    113
  12. wgabrie

    wgabrie Well-Known Member Donor

    Joined:
    May 31, 2011
    Messages:
    13,965
    Likes Received:
    3,116
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Actually, I don't know what is normal these days. In my family history, my Dad was the first one in his family to get a college degree, an Associate's degree, and I'm the first in my family going to get a Bachelor's degree now. Most of my extended family went to work right away, young, when they were just out of high school. They never got their degree.

    I don't know what the world, in general, is thinking right now, not getting their degree. They're either making good money in the economy without it, or this is the latest symptom of a crisis where people can't justify the cost of higher education or can't take time away from work to study. It could also be the case that the majority of the population is as dumb as bricks and they don't have the mental ability to benefit from a college education.

    I hope it's a crisis because when it affects the majority of people, the politicians must get up and do something to help the people for once or lose their seats in the next election. There was a time in this country's history when people could actually make a middle-class living, with all the trimmings, with a single family member taking a part-time job. Why can't it be that way again?

    If this results from a majority of the population being as dumb as bricks, we've really got to start testing the water. It could also be the result of allowing the poor and stupid to breed uncontrolled. Most people don't know this, but the USA really practiced Eugenics in the early 20th century, sterilizing the stupid and disabled, before WW2 discouraged it, and that is why the USA had a higher than average intelligence in its population for much of the 20th century when compared to the rest of the world.
     
  13. kazenatsu

    kazenatsu Well-Known Member Past Donor

    Joined:
    May 15, 2017
    Messages:
    35,099
    Likes Received:
    11,439
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Four million fewer teenagers enrolled at a college in 2022 than in 2012. For many, the price tag has simply grown too exorbitant to justify the cost. From 2010 to 2022, college tuition rose an average of 12% a year, while overall inflation only increased an average of 2.6% each year. Today it costs at least $104,108 on average to attend four years of public university -- and $223,360 for a private university.
    At the same time, the salaries students can expect to earn after graduation haven't kept up with the cost of college. A 2019 report from the Pew Research Center found that earnings for young college-educated workers had remained mostly flat over the past 50 years. Four years after graduating, according to recent data from the Higher Education Authority, a third of students earn less than $40,000 -- lower than the average salary of $44,356 that workers with only a high-school diploma earn. Factor in the average student debt of $33,500 that college graduates owe after they leave school, and many graduates will spend years catching up with their degree-less counterparts. This student-debt-driven financial hole is leaving more young graduates with a lower net worth than previous generations.​

    Some Gen Z Are Not Going to College Amid Rising Tuition (businessinsider.com), Charlotte Lytton, Sep 5, 2023

    US college enrolment trends were falling even before COVID-19 struck.
    Of those US students opting out, nearly 50% said they failed to see an adequate return on the time and investment required for college study.

    In 2022, 4 million fewer people in America enrolled at a college than ten years ago. The COVID-19 pandemic further accelerated the decline in US college enrolment, with a 10% decrease in sign-ups.

    For those students who still believe in the value of college, completing their studies is not guaranteed -- one-third of students are dropping out. To make matters worse, many of these students still hold a substantial amount of debt, despite having no credentials to show for it. The best available data from the National Center for Education Statistics concluded that 38-39% of students who took out student loans between 2012-2017 did not finish college during that timeframe.

    As of 2022, the average student loan debt-per-borrower is $37,113 and in a 2022 poll, 51% of US adults agreed that the cost of higher education "impacted their ability to pursue education after high school."​

    US college enrolment is dropping, can this be reversed? Daniel Rosensweig, World Economic Forum, Jan 19, 2023
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2023
  14. AARguy

    AARguy Banned

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2021
    Messages:
    14,265
    Likes Received:
    6,665
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    "Going to college" is very misleading. Graduating with an engineering degree allows you to help design and develop products that can help an employer make a profit... and he'll pay for that handsomely. Graduating with a degree in medieval art history may make you a hit a cocktail party, but won't get you much of a job. Lumping all college degrees together kind of invalidates your point.
     
  15. kazenatsu

    kazenatsu Well-Known Member Past Donor

    Joined:
    May 15, 2017
    Messages:
    35,099
    Likes Received:
    11,439
    Trophy Points:
    113
    According to many young people, the herculean four-year undertaking is no longer worth the trouble.
    College--whether or not it’s "necessary" on principle--has become an exorbitant expense that about half of the country incurs--to the point where the cost isn't worth it for some.

    The parents of today's college students often told them going to college would provide a path to job security, which would eventually blossom into a fruitful career. That comes with the generational benchmarks of home ownership, a vacation fund, and even the ability to provide for a family, and the next generation's education, too. That's what the American Dream purported to offer, at least, until Generation Z came along and upended it.

    The idea of college ensuring success has eroded, Phillip Cohen, a sociology professor at the University of Maryland College Park tells Fortune. "To be sure, pursuing education and a career is still a safer bet for your future," he says, noting that job outcomes and salary baselines are significantly improved with each advanced degree. But those material benefits are "just not a guarantee anymore."​

    The article goes on to explain that employers these days are increasingly looking for specific skills rather than just a college degree.

    Gen Z is souring on college degrees as a path to success, sociology professor says. They have a good reason: Skills-based hiring is the way of the future, Jane Thier, Fortune Magazine, 9/23/2023
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2023
  16. AARguy

    AARguy Banned

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2021
    Messages:
    14,265
    Likes Received:
    6,665
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Just saying "college" is very misleading. Major in history, art, music, etc. and you'll be slinging burgers like a high school grad. Major in electrical engineering, chemical engineering, Physics, and similar and you can help a company design and build things that make profits... and as a result... makes you a good salary. To just say "college" is very misleading.
     
  17. kazenatsu

    kazenatsu Well-Known Member Past Donor

    Joined:
    May 15, 2017
    Messages:
    35,099
    Likes Received:
    11,439
    Trophy Points:
    113
    It's not that simple. I have gone over this in other threads. It's not necessarily as easy as most of the public imagines to get a good-paying job with a degree in math or science. There is a lot of competition from immigrants as well in the math and science fields, which depresses wages and leads to competition for mid-level jobs.

    It used to be, in the 80s and 90s, one could get just about any type of college degree and be able to use that to leverage their way into a decent-paying job. Later (after maybe about 2005) the job market began to get more competitive, and people were under more pressure to get 4-year degrees in more relevant areas of study, or attend prestigious schools, to be able to have a chance of getting a good job offer.

    related thread:
    U.S. tech giants hiring more foreign workers on H-1B visas (posted in Computers & Tech section, Apr 22, 2018 )
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2023
  18. AARguy

    AARguy Banned

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2021
    Messages:
    14,265
    Likes Received:
    6,665
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    My experience is quite different. I'm retired now but when I was working I worked in aerospace... defense. The products I helped conceive, develop, and sell involved lasers (GaAS, CO2, NdYAG, etc.)... digital communications... networks... imaging. I hold a patent "A Six Degree of Freedom Piezoelectric Platform for Laser Aiming" It was later upgraded to a fiber optic bundle system.

    When you do this type of work, a degree in history, English or art ... are about as valuable as teats on a boar hog. It takes engineering, electromagnetic field theory, Physics and such.
     

Share This Page