U.S. higher education headed in the wrong direction

  • 61% said that higher education is heading in the wrong direction
  • 84% said that higher education costs are too high
  • 65% said that students are not getting the skills that they need to succeed in the workplace

Source: Pew Research

We are living in strange times when one of my most controversial views enters the mainstream.

People are upset. With tuition prices so high, who can blame them?

This problem reminds me of a story. In my early 20s, I read everything that I could find about finance. I must have read hundreds of books, thousands of articles, and watched hours of videos. I read older books to learn how people used to think. And I read a fascinating anecdote about higher education.

A generation ago, people tried to make it big on Wall Street. Many would fail, but that didn’t matter. Because the ones who failed on Wall Street would go to law school. Lawyers made good money at the time and law school was relatively inexpensive.

Things change. I hear that law school is expensive these days, and jobs are few and far between. But today we have Software Engineering. Most people who try can get software jobs after 6 months of training. A career in software is a golden backup plan.

The best solution, on an individual basis, is to be a smart consumer. We have to be smart consumers of higher education. Here are some higher education best practices:

  • Apply for scholarships
  • Go to an affordable school
  • Focus on learning a marketable skill
  • If you have to work, and can’t afford the luxury of a life of leisure, pick a field that has good job prospects

Above all, think of higher education as an investment. Pay a little, get a lot. Remember that AWS Certified Developer – Associate certificate that I keep mentioning? The cost of the exam and preparation is under $500, and the average salary for those holding the AWS Certified Developer – Associate certificate is $112,984.

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