The Generation that Disrupted College?
Let me start by making it abundantly clear; I am strongly in favor of higher education for a purpose. Are the laws of supply and demand at work for millennials entering the job market in 2017? For the jobs requiring degrees, is there a supply glut of graduates? If so, is there a corresponding decrease in salaries? According to a recent Forbes article, 37% of millennials regret going to college given the amount of debt they currently have. The same study revealed that nearly half of millennials believe they would be at the same place in their career had they not gone to college. College graduates are outpacing demands for jobs. In December 2016, a
different Forbes article found the millennial unemployment rate at 12.8% compared to the national average of 4.9%. In 2016, the average net worth of a 35 year old was $20,000 according to Money
Remember supply and demand? In 2016, Inside Higher Education revealed that nearly 90% of millennials will attend some form of college within 8 years of graduating high school. A college sophomore at a prestigious public university stated that she was “getting a four-year degree but really did not
know if she would everuse it in life”. She stated that she would “just figure it out later”. A recent graduate from a very expensive 4-year private university was working as an executive assistant (not in her degree field) while living at home with her parents. Nearly a third of all millennials lives with and relies financially on their parents. Only 40% of young American’s live independently of their parents.
Or, can it be as simple as Malcolm Galdwel’s
assertion in his 2008 book Outliers? He states “an extraordinarily consistent answer in an incredible number of fields ... you need to have practiced, to have apprenticed, for 10,000 hours before you get good.” Might the internet’s access to unlimited information combined 10,000 hours (equates to 3 hours a day for 10 years) in some value added activity become an alternative to a higher education?
As a parent of a college student and the one who is paying the tuition bills, I am acutely aware of the need to secure employment upon completion of a very expensive higher education. Education for a purpose is very different from education for a degree. The employment reality after college and this writing are more about creating a discussion rather than taking a position. While I am a strong advocate and firm believer in higher
education, it seems to me that we have created a culture today that makes a child feel like a failure if they do not complete a four year degree in something. As a result, I am seeing millennials chase a diploma that may limit their opportunities for success upon completion. At the same time many are being saddled with extremely high debt to pay for the education they never intended to use.
While speaking at a recent event, another speaker shared that his daughter recently
completed a four-year degree in marine biology yet had not intentions of leaving St. Louis, Missouri to find an opportunity in the field. And she is not alone.
If you want to fast...go alone. If you want to go far...go together. -African Proverb
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