April 26, 2011 by HelloUS.com
隨著美國經濟的低迷，有越來越多的聲音討論大學學位的價值。投資臉書(facebook)的對沖基金負責人彼得‧泰爾(Peter Thiel)是這連串發聲者的第一人；另外一個則是唐娜‧戈爾茨坦(Dana Goldstein)。
A college education should not result in crushing debt.
There have been some interesting pieces about the value of a college degree lately. The first is from Peter Thiel, the hedge fund investor behind the financing of Facebook. The second is from Dana Goldstein.
Thiel argues that we are in the midst of a ‘higher-education bubble’ and that kids today aren’t getting their money’s worth. Goldstein shows how the debt can be a real problem especially for kids who don’t finish school:
Half of all college drop-outs have borrowed some money for tuition. And consider this depressing statistic: One in five students who drop out of college leave only after accumulating $20,000 or more in debt. These are the folks most unable to pay back their loans; the rhetoric of “college for all” simply does not match the reality of their lives.
I disagree with Thiel’s conclusion about a ‘bubble’ in higher-ed, but that doesn’t mean he’s all wrong. Obviously a lot of Americans aren’t getting their money’s worth from college, especially if they don’t finish their degrees but do take on a lot of debt. So what’s the solution to this growing problem? After all, schools are more expensive than ever. Between 2007 and 1982 college tuition went up 439 percent while median family income rose by only 147 percent. No wonder students are taking on more and more debt. Many of them can’t afford to go any other way.
I think there are two problems that are leading to rising costs in higher-ed.
First, we as a society are not coming together to support institutions of higher learning. State governments across the country have been slashing aid to public universities even as a college education becomes more and more important in the modern job market. An almost dogmatic resistance to raising taxes to pay for important services like public education forces tuition higher and higher.
Second, we need to acknowledge that academic college really isn’t for everyone. I think one obstacle to this has been the rise in for-profit colleges. These are often far more expensive than community colleges. They provide students with often useless diplomas while saddling them with tens of thousands of dollars in debt. But they are at least ostensibly filling a much-needed gap in our education system.
Instead of these for-profit diploma mills, we should focus on making vocational training a more integral part of our high schools and community colleges. This could help push more of the right students into jobs and careers they are better suited for, and help avoid at least some of the dropout issues we’re seeing today. Finland is one country that places heavy emphasis on vocational training, going well beyond a shop class or two.
Either way, the answer to rising college costs and dropout and debt rates is not to cut from education further or turn people off to college altogether. The answer is a refocusing of our priorities. Yes, education costs money. But that money should not fall squarely on the heads of middle class kids who are forced to take out tens of thousands in debt just to attend school.
Sure, there are lots of other problems with college. In many ways, it really has become a four-year-party for a lot of students. Maybe those students should take some time before they go to school. Maybe it should be harder to get into school in the first place. Maybe more kids need to attend community or vocational schools. But we shouldn’t close the doors on a college education based on rising costs. Costs
say very little about merit, after all.