This morning I came across an article in the Washington Post: “U.S. goes from leading to lagging in young college graduates.” by Daniel de Vise (link included below)
With all the colleges, universities, and vocational schools across the United States, we somehow still managed to fall from number 1 in the world for folks aged 25-34 with post-secondary degrees to number 12; Canada jumped to number 1. What the heck is going on?
I would postulate that this might have something to do with the rising cost of education throughout the United States. As I had posted previously, educational costs for colleges have been soaring – with very little being done about it. Compounding that problem is the recent recession; folks who would have previously been able to take loans to go to college are no longer able to due to lowered credit scores and tougher scrutiny by the banks. This all points back to one common theme: the desperate need to lower the cost of education, not only through scholarships & loan assistance, but also at the university tuition level.
First, let’s compare costs of education. Estimated total costs for the University of British Columbia Applied Sciences program, assuming a full academic year, is $18,281 (CDN) (source). Similarly, education costs across all programs at the University of Waterloo average $21,700 (CDN) per year (source).
In contrast, the University of California, for California residents, costs $26,985 (USD) per year (source). University of Virginia, for Virginians, costs $22,543 (USD) per year (source). I picked these two schools as they occupy the top three public school rankings at the U.S. News and World Report. When one turns to look at private schools, we see a staggering difference in the cost of education. Duke University costs $50,750 (USD) per year (source) and Harvard University costs $50,723 (USD) per year (source).
If we don’t lower the cost of attending colleges, we run the risk of having a less educated generation, one that is “feared to be the first generation in the modern era that will be less well-educated than their parents.” (source). It’s more than a “who’s smarter than who” contest. This should be considered an issue of national security when we are unable to lead the best and the brightest. Let’s figure out a way to lower the overall cost of education. Stop loading graduates with loans and start reduce tuition charges from the universities to bring young Americans back to the forefront of scientific and educational progress.