Today’s higher education system has many flaws. The system is broken. Many students pay a hefty sum of money for a college education that doesn’t necessarily guarantee employment. Many are friends of mine. Almost half of the 2012 class remain unemployed as their interest on loans increases. It’s a nightmare.
But there are some in college administrations who are currently addressing the problem. One of them is former Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels.
Many in the intellectual conservative wing of the Republican Party like George Will wanted Governor Daniels to run for president in 2012. No luck there. Instead, conservatives and Republicans got Governor Mitt Romney, and well… we know how that ended up. No need to repeat that story.
Mitch Daniels was up for a different job, though: he was chosen for a different kind of presidency. Daniels was selected as president of Purdue University, and he has already rolled up his sleeves and is excited to get things done. Those in Purdue can already tell by the vivacious letter that he recently sent to the campus at large. He’s sounding more and more like Jeb Bush on education, except that Daniels is tackling college and not high school education.
Daniels delivered a letter to the whole of Purdue University spelling out the errors in today’s college institutions. These are errors that are already well known; however, they’re not addressed by the average college administration. He’s a no holds-barred kind of president.
Daniels lists those flaws throughout the letter. College costs too much and doesn’t guarantee employment. Often, professors display a lack of attention toward their students. There is a drain in “diversity of thought,” as well as skyrocketing administration costs on capital campaigns. Issues like these drive our failed college institutions, and all of these were addressed.
As individuals, let’s put the breaks on this cycle and prevent more damaging situations. For example, start questioning your own college education. That doesn’t mean you should drop out from school (seriously, don’t), but it means that you should truly question whether your degree will hold up in the realm of the “Real World.”
There are majors that make it much easier to get a job. College students who majored in sciences, technology, engineering, and math fare well in the job market. Also known as STEM, these graduates are in high demand. There are 600,000 unfilled jobs waiting for people that majored in those fields. This is not to say that people should drop out from English, dance, music, or political science courses – social sciences are too essential to be dumped (Yes, I’m a political science major). What students need to question is whether or not they need a college education to do what they love. Do they want a job-guaranteeing education, or a college degree that leaves them struggling to find a career?
Governor Daniels cited a thought provoking quote from the founder of PayPal, Peter Thiel: “Too many kids go to college.” That’s another question students should think about. Some students are not ready to take in a college education, and some may not even fit the college atmosphere. We as a society need to accept the fact that some people are not capable of handling the intensity of a college education.
But this kind of criticism equally applies to colleges around the USA: Daniels says that there is waste in the way all colleges spend tuition revenue. Colleges should reevaluate their expenditures, take it to heart that college is expensive, and administer things fairly. The flaws that the governor described are not just Purdue exclusive: these exact same flaws are happening in my school and probably yours as well.
The problem is that the government cares more about protecting Pell grants and increasing federal funding than reforming the flawed structures of today’s colleges. No one in the federal government is addressing the core issue of college affordability. If nothing is done, there will be a financial crisis like that in 2008. The single difference is that this crisis will stem from college loans instead of housing mortgages. Change is necessary, and it needs to happen before the college loan bubble bursts.
Washington, start listening to Governor Daniels. You’ll learn a thing or two.
Alex Uzarowics | Knox College | @AUzarowicz