I travel and speak about 125 times a year. Most of my events are on a college campus, with students, faculty, coaches or athletes. As you can guess, I get to see the good, the bad and the ugly things that make up higher education in the U.S.
Today—I’ll share one reality I’d like to change in education. In a word, it is:
We love living in America—the land of opportunity. At times, however, that opportunity is all but out of reach. Only 3% of the students in the top colleges in America come from the bottom fourth in household income. Meaning, those schools are for the rich. And regardless of the income of the student, loan debt has become astronomical. The average student graduates with $26,600 in debt, which they’ll need to pay off before they feel free to borrow any more. Student loan debt hovers at almost a trillion dollars. It’s now the largest loan category in our nation.
What does all this mean? According to TIME magazine, 80% of Americans say they agree or strongly agree that the education students receive is not worth what they pay for it. We question whether the debt is worth it—and are finding other ways to get ready for a career. Tech schools and vocational schools are seeing a huge spike in enrollment. In addition, many young adults are just “saying no” to education after high school and jumping into their careers. Perhaps this is good, but futurists say that by 2020, 65% of jobs will require post-secondary education. America is falling behind other nations of the world in preparing kids for the future that awaits them.
The first forty years of my life, I was used to living in a country that led the way for almost every other nation in the world. We set the pace for other countries. Today—not so much. Our influence may continue to decline if we don’t find new ways to earn the right to influence and to model the way.
Educational leaders must find a way to offer post-secondary education for free, or for a very reduced cost. They will become very popular as they provide relevant and helpful learning for real job opportunities.
Are you concerned about the future of education? Join us on June 27-28, 2013 in Atlanta for our National Leadership Forum. Our topic: “Marching Off the Map.” We will wrestle with change we must make to lead the way into the future—including accessibility, classroom teaching methods, technology, student engagement, and more. To preview our incredible list of speakers or to register: CLICK HERE.