The Changing Plans of the Modern College Student

What it has meant to be a college student in the United States has changed dramatically since their conception. From something for only the most prestigious and well-off citizens, to a means for even the most disadvantaged to move up the social ladder. Today the tide seems to be turning yet again as college prices continue to soar and the return on investment continues to fall.

While inflation continues to rise in the U.S, college tuition has long-since outpaced any normal inflation rates. Undergraduate enrollment has fallen 7.8% in the period between 2019 and 2021 because of this. And on top of the hyper-inflated prices, the pandemic put a strain on many lower class families that few could properly handle.

36% of parents had to dip into their child’s college funds to stay afloat in the pandemic. This is something that has shifted not only prospective students away from college altogether, but those that are attending towards more public and community options. The rate of those wanting to attend community college going up 28% from before the pandemic. 

Smaller colleges and less prestigious colleges are especially affected, barely making enough to stay afloat. Colleges have started to close at much higher rates post-pandemic than pre-pandemic. It’s just a generally dire scenario, but notably, not a hopeless one. Biden’s plan for student loan forgiveness gives current and past students the means to better pursue and utilize their degrees.

College executives are also actively working at ways to make a college education work better for their students while also saving as much money as possible. Today 73% of college graduates have a job unrelated to their major, but for many more in-college programs and training on how and where to be hired could help to even out this statistic.

Overall colleges are experiencing a downward spiral in society. Students are taking out more loans, struggling more to pay them back, and generally refusing to choose college as their post high school option. This doesn’t have to be the case though, a highly educated society is a highly desirable society, now it can only be wondered what will change to achieve that.

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