Insight News

Thursday
Nov 20th

Reduce college pessimism

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With a few special exceptions, the more education an individual has the more money they will earn over the course of their lives.  And most Americans realize that. So much so that they scrimp and save to put support their children – or themselves – through college. Even those who don’t feel that college is accessible to them realize post-secondary education and training is critical, so they go on to a trade or professional school. Despite our collective realization that education is the key to long-term financial stability, many Americans have very little faith in the nation’s college and university systems and believe that they function more like corporations and less like institutions there to serve and help develop our country’s future workers.

A recent study by the found that while, ten years ago, 45 percent of Americans thought college was available to the majority of students that number has now dropped to 28 percent. Today, parents and students think education is too expensive and that schools are far too concerned with their bottom line than they are whether or not students are getting the most of out their education.

Over the course of their working life, the average high school graduates can expect to earn $1.2 million while an individual with a bachelor's degree can expect to earn $2.1 million. This huge gap in lifetime income clearly illustrates the benefits – and need – for higher education. Graduates aren’t the only ones who benefit, though. The larger society prospers because the workforce will be better prepared and workers earning higher incomes go on to pay additional tax dollars, money that can then go to fund federal programs.

It is discouraging, and alarming, to realize that the public has very little faith in the higher education system. Over time, as the trust erodes, so too will the enthusiasm to pursue education after high school. When the desire fades, enrollment will begin to fall, setting off a chain reaction that puts our nation’s workforce and economy at great risk.

The best way to dispel this pessimism and rebuild the trust is to first do a better job of communicating with parents and students about university life and the options available to them. We must pressure policymakers to make college more accessible by expanding federal grant programs and offering loan forgiveness programs for students who enter public service, commit to working in under served communities or enter fields where there are staffing shortages. And universities and colleges must begin to view themselves not as businesses their to earn a profit but as organizations designed to uplift students and – tomorrow’s workforce – and prepare them for the future.

Judge Greg Mathis became the youngest judge in Michigan’s history and was elected a Superior Court Judge for Michigan’s 36th District. He has been called upon as a regular contributor to national television programs, including “Larry King Live,” “Politically Incorrect,” CNN's "Talk Back Live,” “Showbiz Tonight” and “Extra” to discuss his opinions on complex issues of the day, such as national security, unique sentencing, affirmative action and celebrity scandals. He also offers his take on high-profile legal cases.
 

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