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A college degree is always the ticket to bettercame and a more successful career. Data from United States "The Bureau of Labor Statistics continues to support the traditional idea that college is the path to a better life, but nowadays fewer and fewer Americans seem to be embracing it.
The world of higher education is in shock after a second consecutive year of dramatic drops in inions at colleges and universities this fall. Figures "from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center reflecting about three-quarters of post-secondary institutions nationwide show 3.5% drop in undergraduate inions this year and a 7.8% two-year drop since 2019. Last year's drop was not unexpected at the start of the pandemic, but a second large drop sparked offConcerns that fewer Americans are seeing the value of post-secondary education.
Last year's drop was not unexpected amid the early stages of the pandemic, but a cumulative decline of 6.6% over two years has increased fear that fewer Americans are seeing the value of post-secondary education.
"Over the past 50 years, we have nothing has come close to the sharp decline in inions over the past two years, "said Doug Shapiro, executive director of the National Student Clearinghouse. "With population growth and the increasing complexity and demands of the labor market, it 's hard to imagine that we could witness such a significant decline.
Normally, post-secondary inions are countercyclical to the economy. They increase in recessions and uncertain economies as people turn to retool and add skills toexpand their opportunities. This happened after the 2008 recession when inions, especially at community colleges, were on the rise.
Not this time. The Covid-19 epidemic pushed the unemployment rate to 14.8% virtually overnight at the start of last year, as community lockdowns crushed low-wage sectors like the hospitality industry, catering and retail.
The recovery in these sectors has been slow and uneven, but it has gained momentum to the point that a tight labor market is now pushing low wages on the rise.
"Those hardest hit by the pandemic are now thinking about how to get back to work, not school " said Maria Flynn, CEO of Jobs for the Future, a nonprofit focused on the American workforce and education systems. "I expect this momentum to continue until 2022. "
While the drop in college and university inions has occurred in both public and private institutions offering two- and four-year programs, community colleges have been hit the hardest. , falling 6% this year after a staggering 9.4% drop last year.
The four-year public programs saw a more modest decline of 2.5%, compared to a drop of 1.6% in 2020.
However, there is a big disparity between schools across all categories, with less selective schools - those serving low- and middle-income students - are seeing the biggest drop in inions.
Martha Parham, vice president of public relations at the 'American Association of Community Colleges, isn ' t surprised by the numbers.
"About 29% of our student body are first generation Americans and most of them work at full-time or part-time "she declared. "The pandemic has decimated service industries and lower socio-economic groups have been more negatively affected.
She said federal funding through the CARES Act has helped establishments to develop e-learning models and cover the unbudgeted costs of the pandemic, but fears the drop in inions may have lasting effects.
"Our colleges are funded with arrears after the inions, "she said. "It may be a few years before we see the full fiscal impact of these cuts.
Shapiro says she is concerned that negative signals about the financial distress of students and institutions could emerge. result. in further declines. “I think the affordable aspect is really standing out now,” Shapiro said. "Students are more skeptical of the value of a four-year degree and are more wary of student loans.students and debt. "
There were 44.8 million borrowers with federal student loans in 2017, according to Federal Reserve data, and total student debt was $ 1.73 trillion at the end of the second quarter. The average debt of graduates with a bachelor's degree in the class of 2019 was $ 28,950, according to the Institute for College Access and Success. The cost still Growing colleges and universities are clearly giving potential students a break.
The decline in inions in higher education could still be temporary. The same goes for the tight and rising job market wages.
Flynn, however, believes that the drop in inions in colleges marks a turning point for the higher education and workforce training systems. educational institutions must better align their offers with jobs in demand.
They must bepartner with businesses and other institutions to provide students with clearer pathways to economic advancement. And they need to offer "skills-based " learning models, both online and in person, that advance students as they master the skills rather than on a standard schedule. .
"This is a radical change, and the pandemic has accelerated the change " said Flynn. "The disruption in higher education is causing people to question things in more depth.
" We will learn a lot over the next 18-24 months, but I don't think so that things will return to the previous status quo. "