College is not for everyone, but it can be
“You need to go to college.”
The suspicious statement I used to believe was true. A fallacy echoed by many well intentioned teachers, parents, and family members. A deception sold as part if the American Dream. Ingrained in the psyche of our communities and the world who strive to come to the U.S. Flowing from the promise that of you work hard — no matter where you come from — you are rewarded. That you can have … a house, a car, an education, get married, and prosper. The system works for some, but they are part of a minority. The gap in opportunity became clearer when I looked at the facts of where our higher education system is today.
Contrary to popular belief among college graduates, most people do not have a degree. If we extend the logic that everyone should have a college degree, we would expect, the national student debt to reach $3.1 trillion for all to obtain an associates degree and $3.9 trillion if our goal is for all to obtain a bachelors degree.
This amount of debt for individuals and our nation, would be equivalent to increasing mortgage debt by 50% or quadrupling our credit card debt.
But, getting a degree will lead me to my dream job right?! Lets dive in.
of employed U.S. college graduates are in jobs that require less than a four-year college education. (e.g. 15% of taxi drivers have a degree)
For those who choose to attend college and take on the debt, about 60–62%will complete the program. Of the ones that do, about half can’t get a job in the field they studied and could have obtained the job without spending all that time and money for a degree.
But wait…people with degrees have greater lifetime earnings. Yes, depending on the degree and school.
While the average salary for college graduates is $50,651, there is a wide distribution. Those with a computer science and engineering degrees have an average annual salary of ~$64,000 while english, psychology, and arts are at ~$35,000. Looking closer at the Bureau of Labor and Statistics data, the gap between those with “some college, no degree” and an “associates degree” is marginal, especially for those with a certification related to their work. Lastly, certain 4-year graduate programs have a lower expected earnings compared to associate’s degree graduates.
Don’t get me wrong. Colleges and universities do a great service to society. The worlds cutting edge research, countless advancements in technology, and students research and inventions are connected to every facet of our progress. But…
The ‘degree’ system is working for the minority.
The experience and community may be transformational, but the cost is a wall keeping low income communities away and the debt is stifling our next generation.
How can we provide all people access to this transformational experience?
Our team at ALEX, Anyone’s Learning Experience, believes that there can be another way. We believe everyone should have access to this training, with no or limited debt. We are creating a place where everyone can see the individual courses (empty seats) across institutions and can take one course at a time — as they can afford, and as it fit’s with their lives. Investing courses that are relevant to each person, for moving forward.
We are starting by creating a marketplace for people to enroll in one course at a time — matched to their interest and career goals. We had a limited launch in Boston on August 4th. If you are a career switcher or curious learner looking to take courses come join us. If we don’t have a course you are looking for or have any other feedback message firstname.lastname@example.org. You can help us get one step closer to making higher education accessible to everyone.
Share, spread the revolution.