The Real Cost Of Rising Prices Associated With Higher Education

In the wake of the dramatic health care modifications associated with Obamacare, it is easy to forget about the Obama Administration’s promises concerning education reform. The Huffington Post article “Obama Education Promises Face Rocky Path Forward” reminds us of the ambitious goals announced on the campaign trail concerning America’s pursuit of higher of education.

  • Make U.S. #1 In National Populations With Greatest Number Of College Graduates
  • Incentivize Price Lowering Initiatives Among Colleges And Universities

According to the article, the U.S. is one of the rare developed nations where retiring members of the workforce are more educated than the people expected to fill their positions. The result is a less globally competitive America in the future. The goals stated above are part of the Obama Administration’s strategy to reverse this disturbing trend.

Tactics For Goal Achievement

Positioning the U.S. to have the greatest number of college graduates looks great on paper, but it may not mitigate the risk of America’s future lack of competitiveness in the global marketplace. Not all higher education programs positively impact America’s standing in the world’s economy. In truth, there are too many opportunities for young people to waste time and money on unprofitable university level degree programs. Graduates of these programs acquire four-year degrees but very few valuable skills.

Preparing students for challenging college degree programs that teach real skills valued by global employers would be a better goal for the U.S. However, this type of goal is more time, labor, and budget intensive to obtain than the blanket goal of supporting the attainment of college degrees for everyone.

The second goal of incentivizing cost cutting initiatives at U.S. colleges and universities is a noble one. However, the typical private university including the popular accredited online college operates as a business that bases its pricing strategy on supply and demand. They historically will charge the highest prices that the market can tolerate. The key to turning the tide on runaway university tuition prices in the U.S. is to introduce old-fashioned competition into the equation.

Risking the perception of being unpatriotic, U.S. leaders would do well to educate students on overseas university degree options. European Union and other international universities offer talented, well prepared students quality science and engineering degree programs at a fraction of the price of U.S. universities’ domestic tuition rates. Instead of continuing the failed tactic of incentivizing the schools to lower their prices, U.S. leaders could provide monetary incentives to students that encourage them to pursue their higher education goals abroad with the caveat of returning home for a period of time with their newly acquired skill sets.

Perceived Progress Towards Goals

Because the goals were lofty from the outset, no one really expects dramatic progress to be made towards them in the short term. However, there are some elements of the goals that must be looked at closely. For instance, the price of tuition often directly relates to the number of people willing to obtain a college degree. If the tuition lowering goal fails, the progress towards the goal of having a population heavily sprinkled with college degree holders is in jeopardy also.

Although many consider a college degree to be a stepping stone to career success, possessing any type of college degree will not guarantee long-term success. It does, however, keep the pockets of over priced domestic universities nicely lined. Introducing competition to the education industry at a global level should influence university decision makers to become more proactive about bringing their prices down to earth.

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