A Gallup poll found that the number of US adults that think college is very important has fallen from 70% in 2013 to just 51% today. Young people are part of the reason why the decline is happening and also it’s seems that college is cost prohibitive and not necessarily accessible to everyone and I know that right now a lot of students are maybe getting the results of early admissions applications as well so we thought it was a good time to have Teru Clavel with us to talk about what colleges are worth the high price, which aren’t, and a comparison of American schools versus international schools and Teru is a global education consultant. Hi Teru!
Teru Clavel 1:00
Hi, thank you for having me.
And I know that you also have an article in the Chicago Tribune out today as well.
Teru Clavel 1:07
I do, I do, good timing.
Perfect timing. So tell us about what’s going on right now with American colleges and why this decline is happening.
Teru Clavel 1:18
Well, there are a few things and you touched on a few you, the affordability really, college tuition is driven at twice the rate of inflation over the past two decades, and on a comparative education, in putting that into context, most countries, developed countries offer public education at the university level so it’s free, and it’s about $4,000 a year or less for those that even charge tuition. Right now, a third of our of all adults have student loans and our federal student loan debt is at $1.5 trillion, and add an additional hundred billion for private loans, and we’re not really preparing our kids from high school to go to college. So, basically, half of our students at two year colleges are going into a remedial classes, and a fifth at our four year colleges are going to remedial classes and our graduation rates are low, I mean, we’re talking, they’re just at about 60%, six years after matriculating. And then we have this whole other issue when we talk about our kids not being able to launch. Right now, 16% of our Millennials are living at home, and just under a quarter of our children have or have had a psychiatric disorder. So all of these things are coming together and kind of painting this picture, well, why should we go to college? I mean a lot of countries still believe in tertiary education, whereby they go to not maybe a four year university but they go on to a skill based kind of institution, so that you know they become plumbers or electricians or others specified profession.
Well, I think, and that’s a big issue that we’re having right now in our country is that there aren’t enough people to fill very good highly paying trade jobs, and why is it that people don’t think about trade schools?
Teru Clavel 3:14
Well I think you know and this is something that’s happened culturally over the last, especially over the last decade or so where everybody is supposed to go to college..right? And that’s been a big push through Clinton and Obama, and you know we have to get other kids through high school and have high high school graduation rates so that everybody can have access to this four year college experience but we haven’t really taken into account is that it’s not accessible, nor does the graduate necessarily reap the rewards that we had hoped that they would.
Well I mean it’s, I’m glad you touched on the student loan crisis. I am one of those adults still paying off my student loans. Mine came from law school but it does really delay the ability to buy a home, start a family, get married. It’s really setting folks back.
Teru Clavel 4:08
Absolutely. And these are the larger societal consequences in the context that we have to be aware of. I mean, that’s why I bring up other nations because right college or education in general is a public good, only as good as our education system and the graduates that we have and the fact that we’re encombering students after graduating and not letting them launch successfully to be, you know, self sufficient, we’re kind of cutting off our noses, to spite our face, it doesn’t make any sense, we’re not launching students to be successful.
So Teru, here in the Chicago land region also in the state of Illinois, we have a lot of options in terms of schooling. Some that are very expensive and elite and others that are state schools. What do you recommend to parents when they’re trying to make that decision between whether to go to a more, you know, higher ranked school or a more elite school versus, maybe a school that’s more affordable.
Teru Clavel 5:09
So I talk about this in World Class because I educated my kids overseas in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Tokyo, and you know we talked about world rankings and top 20 schools and where you know the reputation of the school may be most important but the reality is, you can get a phenomenal education at a non “name brand school,” you know, because we have to pull apart but what rankings really really mean and for the most part they’re very selective in terms of figuring out, “Okay, so what factors are important? Is it really important how much research institution does to your own personal experience, how international it is? You know, all these factors or variables may not informed your personal experience so forget about the rankings. What you should do is figure out what it is you want to go to college for and and figure out all the different options, because you know what, a public institution may give you a better educational experience than a private one that main encomber you with know decades of debt, you know we really have to get off of this, you know, top 20 kind of a rankings thing.
That mentality definitely isn’t helping us. Would you say that, maybe even the ability to get placed for a job from that institution is more important or the alumni, networking that happens there is that that’s more important than necessarily the name brand or the ranking?
Teru Clavel 6:25
For sure and we talk about the one thing that maybe a lot of people want to think about when they think about these elite schools is the social capital, right? The connections that you make at the school. But the reality is, yes, absolutely, you have to look at what kind of a job they can get them a lot of schools now have programs where you can work, you know, outside of the school so it’s not just for financial aid students really, it’s to get employment opportunity to start your career off while you are an undergraduate and these kind of programs are invaluable really, you know, because they help get a start, not only can making money, but oftentimes it can lead to job offers right upon graduation.
For parents listening right now, what would you say is the most important thing that they can do in terms of making sure that their children’s education is successful.
Teru Clavel 7:18
Well I think you have to start when they’re really really young and everyday talk to them about what their education means in their experience and what their goals are, because not everybody’s goal, again, is a four year university or liberal arts education. It could be going to colonize school, it can be something in the arts. But the bottom line is education is crucial whatever you define it as, and you really have to have these conversations. So, you know, whether it be what did you learn today? Or, or you know if they’re in a math track, making sure they get the foundation arithmetic right and then they get algebra right so that they can go on to algebra 2 and then pre calc and calculus and so on and so forth and what I would say is, a lot of our high school students, even though they may be graduating from high school, they are not college ready right so as a parent, you have to make sure that they are actually college ready and they actually have whatever credits they need to be able to apply to the public and private institutions to which they may want to go because that’s another downfall of our high schools, some of our students don’t even have the credits necessary to make them candidates.
So, that could be a whole other discussion right there but definitely you’re saying that parents sort of needed let go of their expectations and change their mentality in terms of what it, what it means for their child to get an education.
Teru Clavel 8:39
For sure and this is something that we can all evaluate: What is the value of education, right? And talk to your kids about it I mean I’ve talked to so many parents when I do workshops and such, where parents will say well you know soccer is more important, or you know, or how can I battle the technology, or you know, my kids getting straight A’s so I’m thinking they go to a top university, and we have to disaggregate and really go in microscopically and figure out what all this means because the reality is, by the time they’re high school they’re talking to their friends and they’re in school, more than they’re engaging in meaningful conversations with their parents. Right?
Oh so Teru I only have like 30 seconds left. Can you tell me, do you foresee any solutions to these issues of why college is so expensive in America?
Teru Clavel 9:22
To be totally honest, I think, until I mean there’s been cases in the Supreme Court about figuring out this black box that is college admission. And so until we have more top down reform, where there is more transparency required of our private institutions, and even public, I think that parents really have to roll up their sleeves and students too, empower your high school students to know what it takes to get into whatever colleges and and make sure they have those credits and see if they want to go to college, see what other options are are for them, and gap years are great, I have to put that in there.
Well thank you so much Teru Clavel, global education consultant. Thanks so much for being with us.
Teru Clavel 10:03
Thank you for having me!
Transcribed by https://otter.ai