In recent years we’ve given students the following message: go to college at all costs. If you can’t afford it, take out student loans. It will be worth it in the long run.
Many believe that this message has led college costs to rise at an astronomical rate, a jump which economist Mark Perry describes as a nearly 55 percent increase in the last 20 years.
Recent reports suggest that U.S. students are not the only ones to endure such high college prices. British students have experienced similar tuition hikes in recent years – and many are beginning to re-evaluate their college experience. A 2016 Aviva financial survey reports:
“Given the amount of debt they now have, more than one in three (37%) millennials regret going to university. This sentiment is more common among men (41%) than women (34%). …
While higher education can be expensive, many would argue the cost is worth it if it betters your job prospects. However, nearly half (49%) of millennials who went to university believe they could have got to where they are now if they hadn’t gone to university.”
Earlier this year a PricewaterhouseCoopers study found that “only 24% [of millennials] demonstrated basic financial knowledge” and “only 8% demonstrated high financial literacy.”
Our schools have long prided themselves on being institutions which encourage students to become critical thinkers. But given the above numbers, it seems like the education system has done a poor job giving students the tools they need to be critical thinkers when it comes to finances.
Instead of pushing every student toward college, would it be wiser to make financial literacy courses in high school a priority, and then allow students to use the information they learn to critically evaluate their finances and abilities to decide whether or not college is a good, worthwhile choice for them?
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