PBS NewsHour’s Rethinking College series
PBS NewsHour’s Rethinking College series:
All this week, PBS will be exploring one of the biggest problems facing higher education in the United States. The shows can be viewed later.
More students are enrolling in college, but the percent of students who actually earn a college credential by the age of 24 has only increased significantly for families with the highest household incomes. Between 1970 and 2013, the percent of students earning college credentials from families with incomes in the top quarter of all household rose from 40 to 77 percent.
For students from families in the lowest quarter of all households, attainment of a college credential rose from 6 to just 9 percent.
Every night, this week, the PBS NewsHour will take a look at efforts on campuses across the country — from the University of Texas at Austin to Valencia College in Orlando, Florida — focused not just getting more low-income, first-generation students into college, but through college to a useful credential.
Online, the NewsHour and its partners at the Hechinger Report and Inside Higher Ed, will examine places where efforts like these are paying off and where states and others are falling short.
By some projections, within the next five years about 65 percent of jobs in the United States will require some form of certification beyond a high school diploma.
But despite a focus from the Obama administration and countless nonprofits, degree attainment in the U.S. is not rising fast. In 2013, 40 percent of those between 25 and 65 had a postsecondary credential, just 2.1 percentage points than the 37.9 percent that did in 2008.
That stall has more leaders and educators asking what it will take to close the country’s graduation gap.
Is college worth the cost? Sure, it is! However, in the past a college education virtually insured the individual with a degree a better paying job. To a large degree that is still true. But today, it is connected to a large student debt. A college degree is simply a way station to better employment so that students need to consider what they are they being trained for, what are the employment prospects in that field, and will the education they are being trained for pay them enough to pay off their student loans.