College Isn’t As Appealing Anymore

Photo via the Reese Education Center

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Here at Fordham, the idea of steep prices for a four-year college education is not news. In fact, the entire country is having to come to grips with the fact that higher education is becoming increasingly more expensive every year, far surpassing what older generations had to pay to attend university. At a school like Fordham, students are often frustrated with what seems to be unsubstantiated raises in tuition. However, there are many possible causes for the increases. 

Firstly, administrative bloating, an increase in spending on administrators, dominates many colleges’ budgets. While a professor’s salary is unlikely to see much change, “full-time administrators and other professionals employed by those institutions increased by 164% and 452%,” according to Forbes. Along with these salary increases, colleges have begun focusing on on-campus facilities and offerings that make them more appealing to prospective students. Many campuses have begun focusing on developing technologically based labs and modern equipment so that the school stays relevant to the current job market. 

Just going from the 2022-2023 to the 2023-2024 academic year, tuition raised by about 5% on a national average. The steep prices America has become accustomed to is a mass deterrent for young people seeking a degree. As a result, the traditional route of going to a four-year university and graduating that is drilled into youths is trending downward. College enrollment percentages are now facing the steepest decrease since 2018, the consequence of a trend that appeared after the pandemic when students became discouraged by the school system that took place during COVID-19.

Rather than pursuing higher education after graduating, current high schoolers are turning towards technical school. Around 75% of teens believe that getting a two-year degree will set them up for success in the job market. Technical schools offer students a cheaper education with a quicker turnover, with a recent poll finding that only ¼ of participants thought a four-year degree was needed for a good job. With only two years typically required, young people have the opportunity to start working earlier than those who commit to a four-year institution or even plan on doing graduate, medical, or law school. 

It is understandable why young people are deterred by the current model the education system operates under. On top of all the previous issues, high price tags on education on top of high interest rates make it difficult to pay back student loans. However, the economy and our society could be negatively affected without a consistent flow of undergraduates supporting the nation. 

Lower enrollment rates signal that younger generations have little faith in the power of a college degree. However, a four-year diploma can be necessary for a fulfilling and healthy life. A Lumina Foundation study found that those who attended college lived healthier lives due to easier access to healthcare and job security, factors which promote healthier lifestyles and lead to longer life spans in general. Graduates get higher quality jobs and therefore make more money and combat economic issues better.

As for the economy, we need people to go to school and learn how to do jobs that require further education, such as doctors, nurses, dentists, etc. School enrollment for these careers fell in 2022, which can disrupt an already volatile job market. It also stimulates innovation and the creation of new ideas or technologies. People who attend college are twice as likely to start their own businesses, the driving force behind new ideas and products. Also, the declining birth rate combined with a decrease in college enrollment does not bode well for the future workforce.

College is expensive. Some private universities will start charging a sticker price of $100,000 in the near future. But countries need students to go to college, and not just because they can make more money to return to the economy. Going to college allows students to dip their toes in any academic area they want with no real repercussions. They can find out what they are interested in outside the bounds of a restricting high school curriculum. Without this drive to learn, we will become a stagnant society with no goal of finding out more than what we already know. 

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This article was edited by Natalia Gaitan.