A Broader View On Access To Postsecondary Education

December 7th, 2010

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.

By-line:

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.

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3 Responses

  1. Jo says:

    Is it a goal in itself that everybody has to attend higher education? If the students’ scores from high school are to low, isn’t that an indicator that the student might be better off not attending higher education? Seems like there is an enormous pressure to attend higher education, while this is not a guarantee for neither higher income nor more secure jobs anymore.

  2. John says:

    For really self-motivated students in less affluent families, one way for them to lower tuition cost is to take as many college classes available through AP, IB and community colleges. In one case, a girl I know who entered college this year saved almost 2 years of college tuition.

    I am an immigrant from China. I think the opportunity in US to get into a college is abundant comparing with that in other countries. So to certain degree, I disagree with the author about the rigorous admission process. For top colleges, yes, the admission process is tough. But again, college types and choices are many – pretty much that there is a college for everyone one Wants to get into college. I stress “Want” because of the importance of the will power (motivation) and the effort of the students and their parents.

    I agree with the author that cost is one major hindrance, and so does lacking of support and motivation from the parents. I know many immigrants, who take hard job with minimum pay but are determined to send their children to colleges, have managed to save every penny, encouraged their children to excel and eventually succeeded in sending their children to colleges.

  3. Dan says:

    As an ex student at a UK based university i can agree with the author regarding the barriers to entry, especially the cost. As a result of the recent top up to the tuition fee’s it is estimated that the average student will leave University with massive 43k worth of debt. The majority of which will never be paid off.

    I class myself fairly lucky to have been to University before the latest fee increase, as i only have around 11k worth of debt and i will try my hardest not to pay this off as i feel the course i took was not worth the degree i obtained at the end of it. Practically nothing i learned from University has been carried over into my occupation now, I truly believe that you learn the majority of what you need to know on the job and not in a lecture hall. This will differ between courses however i now wish i had never attended University and saved myself a lot of money.

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