A Broader View On Access To Postsecondary Education
Guest Blogger: Mark Davies
The financial gains associated with holding a college degree are rising by the day – employers are willing to hire you only if you’re a graduate; however is this knowledge enough to increase the number of people who graduate every year? Will many more be ready to go to college if they know that they can earn much more over the course of their lifetime when armed with one or more degrees? The answer is in the affirmative of course; however, the will to learn alone is not enough when it comes to post secondary education in the USA – there’s also the question of accessibility and affordability. In general, the factors that hinder access to post secondary education are:
- Cost: Perhaps one of the biggest hurdles to high school students going on to college is the prohibitive cost of college. Around 30 percent of all post secondary institutions in the USA are privately funded, which means that they charge a higher tuition fee from students than state-owned colleges do. Add to this the expense associated with moving away from home, on-campus and daily living costs, and other miscellaneous expenditure, and college becomes one costly affair. Some students get around this hurdle by applying for scholarships or grants, but those who qualify are a minor percentage of all those who apply. Others are lucky to have parents who’ve saved for their college, and yet others take out student loans that they repay for the better part of their professional lives.
- Lack of parental support/education/financial stability: Some parents are wise and prepared – they plan ahead for their children’s education as soon as they’re born and continue to put aside money in 529 savings plans or other similar funds that will grow over the years and help their kids get through college. However, if the parents never went to college, it’s highly unlikely that they are going to take the effort to put aside money for their kids’ college education. Also, they may not have any extra cash to spare every few months to put aside for college because they work at low paying jobs or don’t have regular jobs. Even those who are successful with a decent income may not accord importance to a college degree, so they fail to encourage and support their children to earn a post secondary education. Kids from such homes either go on to find a job straight out of high school; if they’re really determined to go to college, they use their own money to fund their education.
- Being part of a minority community: Most minorities don’t believe in going to college because they don’t understand why they must spend money, time and effort in earning a degree when hardly anyone in their family holds a degree. For minority students who want to make it to college, it’s an uphill climb as they battle hostility from their own and bias from the outside world as they struggle to make it against all odds.
- A rigorous admissions process: Some students who want a degree are deterred by their poor or below average GPA and/or SAT scores. Colleges are looking to admit only those who meet certain requirements, so the kids who don’t do too well in school are barred entry. Some try again and again while others give up and move on to finding a job to help make ends meet.
Even though there are many hindrances that reduce access to post secondary education, there are various redeeming factors as well:
- Online education: This is perhaps the single biggest enhancer of access to post secondary education; ideal for those who want to hold on to a job and pursue a degree, online education is also less expensive that its traditional counterpart because tuition costs are lower, there is no additional expense incurred in moving away from home, and study materials are mostly online. Also, there are hundreds of reputable and accredited institutions that offer quality degrees in almost any discipline, so if will to learn is present, it’s easy to do so with online education.
- Community colleges: This is the cheaper alternative to college – it allows students to stay home (they don’t have to spend money in moving away and into a college campus) and complete a certificate course in a trade or pick up an associate degree (two years) in any discipline. They can move on to a regular college and complete a bachelor’s degree in two years, thus reducing the costs associated with tuition, boarding and food.
In conclusion, it seems that cost is the biggest inhibitor to a college education. However, careful planning, awareness of the importance of a degree, and the determination to go to college and earn a degree at any cost help in overcoming the cost and other negative aspects that block access to a post secondary education.
This guest post is contributed by Mark Davies, he writes on the topic of Online Masters Degree . He welcomes your comments at his email id: markdavies247<@>gmail<.>com.