The College Gap
Here’s a fact that may be news to you. Kids today are among the first generation in a century that may be less educated than their parents. Yep. This is the issue that has educators and social scientists musing: America’s trend has been that children are typically more educated than their parents, through each generation. Today—that trend is in decline.
But why? Here are some reasons from my perspective.
1. College education today doesn’t guarantee a job, but it does guarantee a debt
Many adolescents know friends who got their bachelor’s degree, and now have no job but they do have a $25,000 debt. They don’t want to take that risk.
2. They now see beyond the one gauge their parents had for success: a college degree
For years, Boomer parents said: my kids will go to college! It was a reflection on them. Today, kids now look for other creative avenues to pursue their dreams or make a living.
3. Few have any interest in courses that don’t seem relevant to their career
Our culture conditions kids to be pragmatic. They have a Google reflex. Stimulation and information overload keep them from investing in a liberal arts degree with no sure ROI.
4. Many adolescents don’t possess the Emotional Intelligence for student success
Many have never shared a room, a bathroom or developed conflict resolution skills. Low- level social skills and low self-awareness prevent them from healthy campus living.
5. The cost of higher education has swelled higher than inflation rates
For some, college isn’t a realistic proposition. While working graduates do make more money, the degree costs more than it’s worth due to high debt and unemployment.
6. A large amount of kids have atrophied virtues that enable them to finish well
Virtues like old-fashioned discipline, patience or tenacity have atrophied like an unused muscle. Kids used to speed, convenience and passivity find the rigors of school difficult.
7. Lack of support from those closest to them
Without constant encouragement, many drop out of education. Dysfunctional home environments or going solo make it difficult. It’s tough to finish the journey without help.
The fact is—when Generation Y was first surveyed in 2000, 90% of them planned to attend college. Today, almost a third of them don’t finish high school. Sadly, the rigors of high school don’t prepare young adults for the world they’re about to enter. We must develop employable skills in them in high school and college. While I am a firm believer in the value of education, not all kids should go to college. Many need to further their education in technical fields or vocational training to fill jobs that don’t require liberal arts degrees. It sounds cliché, but today we need education to help emerging employees both get the corner office and build the corner office.
Talk to me. Can you think of other reasons for this trend? And…is this bad?