As soon as the White House announced its latest initiative to forgive student loans at the end of last month, critics and supporters began to reflect. Some have argued that putting a $ 1.7 trillion student debt on Americans has made it impossible for many to buy homes, to begin with. helping families and the economy grow. Others responded that a loan was a loan, and that the government would not be properly responsible for rescuing adults who had made commitments.. There is no doubt that student borrowers need help: one in three students today already believes that they will never pay off their loans, and unlike other types of debt, student loans cannot be forgiven through bankruptcy., which means they will probably last forever.
While there may be room for debt relief, it is not a long-term solution. If you really want to get out of debt, you have to pay for college. How? Reducing costs by providing more courses that the job market really needs and significantly improving outcomes. Students need to get degrees faster and have to personalize their learning to meet their academic and professional goals. Traditional one-size-fits-all curricula are no longer relevant in this economy, and employability numbers indicate that.
Both statistics show the current state of our higher education sector. According to the National Center for Education, the cost of going to college increased by 169% between 1980 and 2020, while the earnings of Americans between the ages of 22 and 27 rose by a much lower 19%. For most Americans, this meant taking on debt, and often graduating without the skills needed to repay. This brings us to the second figure: in a survey of new graduates of two- and four-year-old universities last year, 21 percent said universities did not provide them with the right job skills, and 38 percent said they were occasionally or rarely. they used the skills they had learned. Half did not apply for their initial jobs because they felt underestimated.
They are simply charging much more than the employment results that universities can produce. And that’s not even taking into account the fact that 38 percent of non-graduate college students are often stuck in debt but without a degree. Education used to be a great equalizer; once again, we must demand that universities show a clear return on investment.
To do this we need to embrace technology, not only to reduce university costs, but to ensure that what we teach is successful in the job market. There is a model for this. During the COVID-19 global pandemic, universities around the world developed online academic or hybrid experiences that provided at least basic educational needs while ensuring that students were connected and informed. Data from more than a decade confirms that digital learning works because it allows for greater access to academic resources at a much lower cost and greater personalization.
Today, the majority of students – on average 25 years of age or older, who are already working, usually women and often parents – have to switch between learning and earnings. Online and hybrid models offer many students the flexibility they need to combine education, work, and family life. A recent survey by the American Psychological Association confirms this; most respondents said that they value not only the flexibility of digital learning but also the diverse resources and methods of learning.
But if “how” is a question, “what” is another, and that “what” is more of a real-world skill. Surveys mostly suggest that the main reason students go to college is to get a good job. University degrees would be much more meaningful if graduates were to compete in an increasingly global and digital economy. This is not to say that every university should become a field of encoding. Instead, they need to strengthen primary training, such as distance learning, multi-source research, and real-time project evaluation.
Increasingly, we are seeing fewer and fewer employers valuing college degrees. We need to change that by giving young Americans the opportunity to personalize their education in order to gain the skills that will create real careers. Otherwise, we are being condemned to the high costs of college for an education that many students do not actually use and cannot afford.
The richest and largest country in the world needs more than forgiveness of debts; it needs a new agreement for students to continue to compete.
Dan Rosensweig Chegg is the CEO of the education technology company