Colleges face reality check due to coronavirus

The coronavirus is forcing students and parents to decide if a bachelor’s degree is a good deal (“Coronavirus Pushes Colleges to the Breaking Point, Forcing ‘Hard Choices’ About Education, The Wall Street Journal, May 1). I submit that question is long overdue.

When few people went to college, possession of a four-year degree in virtually any subject was a distinct asset.  But today the picture is entirely different.  One’s major is paramount in landing a well-paying job.  Nevertheless, too many high school students still are being counseled to apply to college even when they lack the aptitude and interest.  It comes as no surprise, therefore, that degree holders in non- STEM subjects have jobs paying minimum wages while they try to pay off their student loans.

Parents and students are finally asking if a four-year bachelor’s degree is worth the tuition, particularly if instruction will be almost exclusively online.  I say college is not for everyone. It’s time to give vocational education the respect it so richly deserves.  Only in this country is vocation education treated so shabbily.

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2 Replies to “Colleges face reality check due to coronavirus”

  1. My impression is that much vocational education — even post-high school — is local so that vocational education students would continue to live at home post-high school while attending the voc-ed program.

    That would certainly be cost-efficient for the student and the family. But, it would be much less “fun” for most young adults than going off to live away from their parents at a college. And, for many parents, I suspect that having their post-high-school kids still living at home is not an ideal arrangement. Also, by continuing to live with their parents, post-high-school students living at home miss out on the “growing-up” aspect of living more or less on their own while still in a somewhat protected college environment.

    These factors might be contributing to students and parents making the financially illogical decision to opt for a four-year liberal arts college degree rather than the much more marketable vocational education training.

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  2. Labor Lawyer: Ideally, young people would know in high school what kind of work they want to do and then take the appropriate courses. Unfortunately, most do not and therefore the de facto choice is to apply to college. But given the cost of tuition and the likelihood of online instruction in college this fall and beyond, many parents and students are going to rethink their original plans.

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