Becoming a “Grown Up” Within the Current American Landscape

student-loan-debt

Although the details may vary we all have that dream.  You know the one.  You throw your tasseled, square hat in the air and somehow it floats off.  Or, you don’t bother to see what happened to that cardboard hat because you have already made a dash to the iron gates of your prestigious university.  You are finally free to be an adult.  You checked every box, passed all the right tests, and are headed to the career of your dreams.  You jump into that convertible that all of your hard work has afforded you and head off to that green grassed, three bedroomed, 2.5 bathroomed house that you can finally afford because you are a college graduate.  Or, perhaps, you are headed to that job you have always dreamed about.  That colorful logo will greet you every morning as your work days are complete with trips to Starbucks, sinking in the leather office chair that is the centerpiece of you swanky glass office space, or business trips that puts numerous stamps in your passport.  Right?  

Well…statistics show that more and more college graduates are not able to buy their own homes until they pass the big 3 0.  Twenty somethings don’t buy homes like they used to.  32% of millennials live at home with their parents and less college graduates share financial responsibility with their partner or spouse.  With student financial debt averaging at about $30,000 that dream of graduating into “adulthood” seems to be further from what many are able to afford.  Time to consider new passages into success. 

Higher Education in the 21st Century

o-school-facebookThe meaning of education has become misconstrued. There does not seem to be a way to become educated without enrolling in a university or college.  This evolution would not be problematic if students were leaving college prepared to enter the work force.  Companies continue to recruit human resources overseas as American colleges and universities slip in international rankings.  This problem is compounded by the exponential growth of tuition costs and mounting student loan debt.  There are some benefits to study at colleges and universities, however, it is detrimental to consider college degrees the only road to accomplishment.  For many, undergraduate degrees only guarantees extensive study of content unrelated to intended careers, and tremendous financial debt.

It is time to reimagine pathways to success.  Higher Education envisions 21st century scholarship by providing students with the following:

Meaningful work experience guided by successful professionals in the field

Locations where the prospective field has grown, thrived, or become well established

Participation and collaboration with cohort members in efforts to found businesses, programs, or services

Affordability

Extensive research based in current discourse and literature about the prospective field

Rigorous standards and requirements that make alumnus competitive in the current job market and college application process

Traditional coursework directly related to prospective career path

Discussions, coursework, and project collaborations driven by student interests

Instead of simulations, real project work expected to have long lasting impact and permanence

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