by Hilderbrand Pelzer III
Today, while participating, with my daughter and wife, in West Chester University's Student Acceptance Day, I think I heard the President of West Chester University say that only 27% of American have a college degree. I know I was listening to his speech closely, trying my very best to hear him say all the right things that would help my daughter feel good about the campus culture, academic program, and academic support. The President, along with the other speakers throughout the program, really put forth their best to connect with the audience and profile the university as an excellent college choice. As a result, my wife and I are excited about the role that West Chester University will play in supporting our daughter's next steps in life. However, getting back to the topic. Did I hear the President correctly - only 27% of Americans have a college degree (Bachelor's Degree)? So, I did some fact-finding of my own, and here is what I learned.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau and the American Community Survey, 52.7 percent of Americans have some college education, but only 27.2 percent have actually obtained a college degree. The percentages are higher in other industrialized countries. This led me to begin thinking. While there are a lot of people who have achieved success in life without actually obtaining a college degree, I am sure one factor that has prevented Americans from attaining a college degree is the cost of a college education. College tuition, at many colleges and universities, is just not always affordable. I don't care if both parents are hard-working, making decent salaries, and trying to put away savings for college for their child(ren). Tuition cost is just too expensive. And, there is no real correlation between paying a higher tuition for college and a better college experience or a successful career afterwards. In fact, colleges and universities that have lower tuitions oftentimes have the same accreditation and level of academic quality as colleges and universities that have a much higher tuition or more prominent name in the higher education world.
The average college tuition for four-year colleges can cost upwards to $35,000 or more yearly in tuition and fees (that is $140,000 for one child), according to the College Board. And, that does not necessarily include room and board, cost of books and computers, spending money for your child(ren), and other incidentals that go with attending college and enjoying college life.
Do you think the college tuition for four-year colleges is too expensive? Do you think the cost of college prevents people from attending? What must the United States do to increase the percentage of Americans attaining a college degree and outperforming other industrialized countries? What will be the impact of states' cutting their higher education funding to their public institutions be on the future of college attainment, which in some states is almost a 50% budget cut?
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