Twelve 20-somethings chronicle their lives for WBUR. Learn more.
I consider myself pretty lucky to have graduated from college with only about $20,000 in student-loan debt.
On my current salary, I will be able to pay back this sum in about eight and a half years. It seems a little crazy to me to have this much debt from such a small section of my life. It seems even crazier that some people have triple and quadruple that, with similar job prospects to mine coming out of four years of school.
I definitely feel that the higher-education system is flawed. I hear stories on the news about people who sue their alma mater for the cost of tuition when they don’t get jobs right out of school.
While I don’t necessarily think this is the correct way of going about it, I do think we have to hold schools accountable for their spending.
As consumers, we contribute directly to the reputation of the schools we choose to attend. In the past, this was a symbiotic relationship where the school would make sure the student got the training and skills needed for post-graduate job placement, and the student in turn would donate to and speak highly of the school. This would cause more students to attend the school and the cycle would continue, the same as any reputable business.
Enrollment in U.S. colleges has increased since the economic downturn, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. According to the same organization, tuition rates continue to increase, despite the falling rates of job placement after graduation. So, although more of us are attending college and paying more to do so, our chances of landing a job after graduation are only declining.
In my opinion, if we are going to spend such exorbitant amounts of money, there should be more of a guarantee at the end of four years. We should be choosing to attend colleges that are able to demonstrate that they teach the required skills for today’s workplace. Unfortunately, that data is not always made available to us and we are sometimes unable to make an informed decision.
My hope is that the educational system can be reformed to be more transparent, not only about job placement numbers, but also about where the thousands of dollars each students spends ultimately ends up going.