The higher education system of the United States is producing less and less desirable results. Just because we have more graduates, does not mean that our education system is getting better. It is clear that more and more people are getting 2 and 4-year degrees or other certifications, but becoming less and less prepared for the level of what is expected of them once they enter the workforce. Employers often hire college graduates over even some of the most experienced in the field, because they have the understanding that the he or she has the most up to date and relevant experience. Unfortunately, it is becoming increasingly obvious that his is not the case.
Why is this the case? Is it because teachers are getting worse? Are institutions pushing the bar down making achievement easier for a student to reach, instead of keeping the bar high and encouraging them to reach higher? Are the stressors and distractions of modern life causing their studies to take a hit? Who is ultimately responsible for student success? Would it be the student’s responsibility, the institutions, the governments, or their families?
These are interesting and very relevant questions as we move into a time of rapid change with-in our higher education system. The Department of Education is beginning to allow institutions to receive federal funding for experimental, non-traditional, competency-based programs to try and prepare students better, and to allow them to learn in a way that is unique to each individual student. There are also many excellent free learning sources that available on the internet now that are being offered from the likes of Harvard and MIT. Fantastic knowledge databases are right there for any person to access. Information and learning has never been so easy to access. A student just needs to make an effort to utilize it.
Facebook, Twitter, and the internet in general distract so many students and no doubt have an impact on a student’s performance. Especially when many students have their laptops and smartphones fired up in class with notifications and text messages buzzing every 10 seconds. It is even worse for students who go to school online, because there is no deterrent to take part in any of these things, and they have the added frustrations of no teacher for the most part, and the temptation to easily cheat on their tests and homework with the internet, causing so much knowledge to miss the mark. Are these things the cause for a student’s poor performance and should be blamed? No they should not. A serious student will not abuse the laptop and turn off the phone in class. They will discipline themselves to pay attention and learn what they need to succeed.
What about affordability? Tuition increases for the most part every year, and students are having to take out more and more loans in order to afford it. This results in money problems for students which can easily distract them for focusing on their studies properly. Many schools offer significant scholarships for students who meet certain academic criteria, and many state schools and community colleges that offer very good education options have low tuition. Students should SEEK, learn about, and understand school loans before getting issued them, and even when they do use them, should use the least amount possible. Students are required to take part in federal counseling online before they are allowed to be issued loans, and if read through properly, lay out very good information regarding them. The majority of students could get an education with using little to no debt. There is a plethora of information about student loans and how to use them properly or not at all.
A student’s family is not always excited about them going to college, or they could care less if they go to college. This is sad but it is the truth. There could be many reasons for this, but the majority of the time the student comes from a low or no income family. The family is usually not able to help the student financially, and do not offer any other type of encouragement or support. This can be tough, but the fact that the student is deciding to go to school out of this kind of family environment shows that they have the drive to succeed. Any student can get a full or part time job and go to school full or part time and afford a good community college education. There are many good 2-year education programs that offer great training for good paying jobs. If the student does very well academically, he can get significant merit-based scholarships at reputable 4-year higher education institutions, which will greatly reduce the amount of loans needed (especially after possible federal and state grant programs are taken into consideration).
There are many areas of opportunity for America’s higher education system to improve, and students will always have distractions and other things they will use as an excuse and attribute to their inability to succeed, but it is ultimately each individual student who dictates how successful they are, and to put that blame anywhere else is incorrect. There is a great source of information available to anyone who will take a short time to look and find it. The majority of the ill prepared college graduates that come from our higher education system are the results of people who did not apply themselves the way they should have and it is nobody else’s fault but their own. I am not saying that certain aspects of our higher education system, its institutions, teachers, families, and other things have no impact negatively or positively on students, but the main difference between students who graduate prepared, and those who do not, is to the degree of which they apply themselves. US institutions pump out world class educated people every year and if this number is comparatively dwindling each year, I am sad to say that it is because students are failing themselves. We are all solely responsible for our own success and failure.