The cost of higher education has been a major issue for years. It is hard to argue that the education system often works in favor of the more affluent while marginalized communities are left scrambling to pay the rising costs of tuition. Often, students from less affluent families experience food insecurity, have trouble buying the necessary books, and struggle to finish their degrees at all. It is imperative that leaders create a clear path towards more affordable and accessible higher education experiences for everyone.
Today, 75% of the fastest-growing careers require training and education beyond a high school diploma. However, almost half of the students that enroll in college throughout the United States actually finish their degrees within six years. Often times college is simply out of reach, particularly for students who must juggle their family responsibilities and work. With that said, the individuals who face such adversity recognize that higher education is typically the key to opportunity and that recognition has fueled a significant increase in college enrollment rates.
The question remains: Is our higher education system delivering what these students need and deserve? The staggering number of incomplete degrees indicates that the current system is not working. So how can we strive to make higher education more accessible?
Shifting Government Funding
Some states are beginning to change the way that government funding operates. Usually, colleges receive state funding based on the number of students that are enrolled. Instead, higher education can become more accessible if schools tie government funding to performance. In order to do this, states can check the graduation and job placement rates. The amount of time it takes students to earn their degree should also be considered. Of course, in order for schools to want to participate the respective states must utilize enough funds for the program to be incentivizing.
Utilizing New Teaching Methods
Due to the pandemic, many schools have discovered that with a few instruction modifications educational outcomes can be improved and costs can be lowered. By offering online tutorials and practice tests, students are able to work at their own pace. These technological advancements can help increase the interaction between educators and students by providing automated assessments and feedback. Not only does embracing these new teaching methods help to improve attendance and grades, but it also helps increase the number of students who completed courses.
Graduating Students Faster
Far too many people leave school before acquiring their degrees. In order to make college more affordable, and thus more accessible, institutions need to ensure that students can earn their degrees faster. Students are completing courses in order to earn enough credits, however, often these courses exceed what is necessary for their degrees. By creating better more efficient paths to graduate, schools will not only help the students but also save money in their budgets.
More colleges can begin shifting their processes and realigning their goals to make it more affordable and accessible for those seeking higher education to obtain a degree. By doing so, these institutions will be embracing a positive change and placing more emphasis on education; a deep-seated value all around the world.