Questioning the Importance of a College Education



well if from from my perspective it's question who's the messenger okay so I think you know what we've tried to do at community our community college system is turn our employers into the messenger okay I turn our four-year universities into the messenger more and more our four-year universities are taking on community college students as part of an integral strategy in fact we just signed a year ago a guaranteed admissions agreement with the University of Illinois system not many states have these kinds of agreements we didn't have this in place right and so you can go to U of I um you know on a guaranteed basis by coming through us and having the U of I promote that having that U of I go out on having our employer partners talk about the value of a City Colleges credential and the value of an education that gets back to families and students and dr. Jann's Jackson's here who's the CEO with Chicago Public Schools having principals and teachers right promote the full plethora of options that are available to students for year to year I think higher ed needs to create voices that are not ourselves in order to be effective well it's it's fascinating to me when people start questioning whether even a college degree is necessary anymore one of my colleagues Brian Kalpana an economist actually has written a very interesting he's a professor he's like lived in higher ed all of his life and he's writing very interesting arguments about why we don't need universities kind of puzzling but what was very noble but what was very interesting is most of the arguments about oh we don't need everybody to get a college degree higher ed maybe overrated there are many other ways to subside to be successful they come from people with advanced degrees from finest institutions in the country who would not hesitate to do whatever is in their hand to make sure their own children go to some of our finest institutions so the whole time I'm thinking okay it is disingenuous you know to be promoting that kind of argument you know even to the point of I guess it's Peter Thiel he has the scholarship that convincing some high school students not to go to college because it's a waste of your time and instead I'm gonna give you a grant so you can set up a business I'm like by the way he himself has not one but two degrees from Stanford in and then my colleague has a degree from I think Berkeley and Princeton in institutions like George Mason 40% of our students are the first generation and their families to go to college their dream is to get a college degree and that's a very rational decision they know that the ability to connect with the middle class to get a good job to provide for their family is absolutely dependent on going to college and getting a degree so for me the I mean in the in questions about cost are real questions of our value are not even contested by anybody there's nobody actually having shown any kind of data showing that it is not necessary to get a college degree to me the key question and and what I'm I work on every single day is actually how to remove barriers so that more people can get a college degree no fewer people it by the way the work that community colleges are doing is essential in solving that puzzle can I just double down on this this is really important because at the height of the Great Recession is the unemployment rate for people with bachelor's degrees never went above four percent okay and so to say right that a college degree doesn't matter is is extremely disingenuous especially to our students because we're dealing 15 percent of our students are homeless 65 percent experience food insecurity a college degree is about survival and you know the ability to just be able to have some thriving opportunities in their lives right and so it's not theoretical right it's this is a very real thing that's going to inform the quality of their life and their family's life and for generations to come and so we can't afford for that narrative to start creeping into any part of society much less the parts of society the lowest income communities in society that just cannot happen

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