Another Pandemic Lesson Learned: College Isn’t The Only Option

Another Pandemic Lesson Learned: College Isn’t The Only Option

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Posted: Dec 03, 2021 12:01 AM

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Undergraduate enrollment is down 6.5 percent from 2019. But don’t panic—it’s not a bad thing. In fact, it’s an opportunity. As it turns out, more students are opting to embark on a career right away instead of going into debt to pay for higher education. This may sound the recruitment alarms through the halls of colleges and universities, but it’s an opportunity to take a closer look at something America has known but largely ignored for many years.College isn’t the only pathway to a successful career.Four-year degrees are unsurprisingly losing their luster. A recent study from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center (NSCRC) shows that undergraduate enrollments have yet to rebound after they dropped in the fall of 2020. They’re continuing a downward trend and, if the trend continues, we’ll see the greatest two-year enrollment drop in the last half century. With the drastic changes to college life over the past two years, it’s not difficult to see why the college experience has lost some of its luster. Americans have long associated a college education with success. But the alma maters are not singing of the crippling student loan debt that accompany their promises of glory—the average total at graduation is $36,900 or about $433 per month, plus interest. In 2020, Americans owed a grand total of $1.7 trillion in student loan debt—102 percent more than a decade ago in 2010. What is sold as a guarantee of stability and success comes at a price tag that many students—and their parents—will either deal with the better part of their adult lives, or never be able to pay off.We need more than one-size-fits all solutions. But if we’ve learned anything from the pandemic, it’s that necessity is the mother of invention—and innovation. The realization that we could turn our living rooms into break rooms, kitchen tables into study halls, and spare bedrooms into corner offices challenged the idea that a “traditional” 9‑to‑5 job with a 45-minute commute was the only option. We face a similar awakening when it comes to education: “Traditional” pathways to work via a four-year degree aren’t for everyone. Four years of lecture halls and term papers are a good fit for some, but for others who learn differently, prefer to work with their hands, or have different interests, college is merely a one-size-fits all pseudo-solution that lacks creativity and sets too many up for debt and discouragement. Opportunity lies in alternative pathways to work. Young Americans need to know that there are other options. A heavy stigma has often shrouded pathways int …

The post Another Pandemic Lesson Learned: College Isn’t The Only Option appeared first on Populist Press 2021 ©.

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