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Beaumont Tower MSU

As most of you know, we are getting ready to move to Las Cruces, New Mexico. The pod was delivered yesterday so we are starting the final push to pack and make final arrangements. Blogging will become sporadic and then I’ll be on hiatus for as long as need be. Hotels with Internet access determine how often I can post of course.

Meanwhile, I and you are lucky to have a guest writer for today.

Her article is on education in the US and I hope you found it as enlightening as I did.

The photo is of a landmark at MSU in East Lansing, Michigan, which is my alma mater and my prerogative to include with the article as the chief of the chiefs here.

So without further ado, I give you Sofia Rasmussen and her article:

We’ve all heard it: “Why should I spend tens of thousands of dollars for a piece of paper?”

Far too many young people are convinced that the cost of higher education, both in terms of money and commitment, exceeds its value. For many, the desire to make money, no matter the wage, is more appealing an option after high school than enrolling in college. Many figure that they can do distance learning, maybe someday earning a top online PhD and earning all the prestige for less money. For families to whom university tuition is financially prohibitive, two-year community colleges offer lower expenditures at the cost of a stronger curriculum.

The decrease in university enrollment for high school graduates is somewhat analogous to the rise of college tuition over the past decade. That the annual increase in tuition has exceeded the rate of inflation in recent years is a legitimate concern for would-be undergrads. But the problem, which is partially addressed by funding for grants in President Obama’s budget, is merely the final straw for students and families already heeding negative portrayals of American universities and the educational loan system.

Right-wing factions that portray education as an elite rite of passage for the rich and powerful have waged war on higher education in the media with accusations of bad science, particularly in the realm of global warming, and a focus on potential corruption in education lending. For people who entertain such rhetoric, the crisis of American education is a battle of perception rather than facts.

Perhaps most importantly, students coming from families where college education is not honored simply don’t understand the positive outcome of committing to university. These issues must be the foundation of a discourse on education in America today—one that engages young people and their families.

The National Center for Education Statistics establishes significant gains in earnings for college graduates over high school grads. In 2009, those aged 25 to 35 with a four-year college degree earned an average of $40,100 per year. High school graduates in the same age range earned an average of just $25,000. The gap is exacerbated later in life, when those whose education is limited to a high school diploma are looked over for promotion opportunities in favor of candidates that hold degrees.

Wage versus salary isn’t the only argument for attaining a college education. High school graduates who fail to matriculate at a university have a much more difficult time finding any work at all. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, 9.2% of high school grads with no college credits were unemployed in February of 2012. Comparatively, 4.3% of those holding bachelor’s degrees or higher were unemployed in the same month.

Aside from the measurable, practical benefits of a college education, studying at a university exposes young adults to experiences, people and concepts they might not otherwise encounter. This often results in an expanded worldview, a sense of personal fulfillment and even a happier marriage.

A 2011 study by the Pew Research Center confirms the widespread sentiment that American college education costs more than it’s worth, with 57% agreeing to that statement. According to 75%, tuition is too expensive for most Americans to afford. However, 86% of college graduates reported that higher education was a good investment for them, personally. That is definitely a statistic worth noting – those who have actually gone through the system see its value.

America’s fastest growing job markets—computer science, medicine, engineering, and biological science—demand higher education. At the present time, America’s best PhD candidates in these fields often come from other countries. For the benefit of America’s future, we need to stress the importance of education for our own. We need to make scientists, software developers and engineers the rock stars of the 21st century. To do that, the price of education must come down.


“Sofia Rasmussen is a freelance writer and aspiring graduate student looking to study education and communications. Feel free to drop her a line if you ever have a question about an article or think she said something silly.”