Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach

Colleges Are In Trouble

Hardly any person can disagree: colleges and universities are vital to the economy. Yet higher education may soon be worthless. At least in America.

Here’s three reasons why, starting with the first.

Hubris.

Since the ‘80s, the cost of college in the US has more than tripled. Rising even faster than the cost of medical care.

Roughly 70% of American students will graduate with debt. The average being $29,000. Which a student can knock out if he pays $312 a month for ten years.

And because education costs are growing every year, the average student debt will grow too. In fact, student loan debt has actually quadrupled in the past ten years.

If universities matched their prices to inflation, the average cost of four years of school—after financial aid would be roughly $40,000. Today’s price tag for a four-year-education is about $90,000.

The more American colleges crank up their prices, the lower the value of college drops.

Connected to this hubris is reputation.

American colleges are trying to maintain a reputation that’s actually hurting their longevity. Every college wants to be seen as an elite institution for elite students.

What metric best measures elitism? How many students a school rejects.

What type of behaviour does that lead to? Aggressive recruiting of applications, just to turn them down.

In short, less people can afford to go to college, and colleges are spending lots of effort to keep people out.

Now for the second reason.

We can all agree school is less valuable if it’s an all online experience—as is the case during covid-19. Yet US colleges and universities haven’t lowered their prices.

What happens next?

If the costs for ‘streaming’ college won’t go down, even less people will sign up.

Thirdly, a growing group of Americans believes that colleges have a negative effect on the country. While only 35% of repulibcans shared that opinion in 2012, over 59% of republicans share that opinion today.

Actually, it’s more than just an opinion. The Trump administration is actively crippling universities.

International students who only take online classes will soon be forced to leave the country. Plus, Trump has asked the treasury to review if colleges should be exempt from paying taxes, and he has threatened to revoke college funding.

If these three trends continue, American colleges are doomed to go belly up.

And if the Trump administration doesn’t do it first, the colleges will deliver the deathblow themselves.

So no matter how you look at it, we’re on the verge of major change.

Which will bring us one of two things:

An educational system for the rich, or an educational system for all. 

Let’s hope colleges stop fighting with each other for customers and start educating students.

By Jeroen Elsing
Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach