Time For College Leaders To Step Up

Some college leaders seem to believe that issues such as college costs, student debt, learning outcomes, and placement rates for graduates are sensationalized by the media and not nearly as serious and important as they are made out to be. (Maxwell, Dr. David, President, Drake University, “Time to Play Offense”, Inside Higher Education, 2/4/13).

When parents and students have both made sacrifices and borrowed mightily to finance the student’s college education, how can college leaders trivialize or ignore the fact that students typically must pay back $25,000 to $100,000 in college loans and credit card debt? Furthermore, parents with more than one child have probably done one or more of the following to cover college costs and related expenses: 1) Taken out personal loans, 2) Borrowed against their house, 3) Increased their credit card limits, 4) Tapped into their retirement savings, 5) Postponed large purchases, repairs and vacations, and 6) Ignored needed medical and dental procedures.

Many college leaders apparently have little idea how much debt students and their parents must take on to complete a four or six year education. Does your college know exactly how much debt each student has built up by the time they graduate? Do they know how much money each parent now owes because of college expenses for their children? Try adding all of that student and parent debt together to get a total TOP Engineering Colleges in the US. Do your leaders express any concern? Are they doing anything about the problem? By the way, for most students, student loans are not financial aid. They are student debt that has to be paid back. If a typical student owes say $35,000, you can estimate the monthly payments for 5, 10, 15 or 20 years.

In perhaps 60+ percent of the families with two, three or four children, money is tight. Of course these families care about college costs, student debt, learning outcomes, and placement rates for graduates. Parents want their children to graduate with job offers that will enable them to live independently, take care of their own expenses and begin to pay back the money they borrowed, and rightly so.

The preponderance of students want to graduate with a good job, ideally one in their field of study, at a salary on which they can live. To accomplish their goals, students need more help than they are receiving from most colleges today. It is time for large numbers of college leaders to wake up, step up and pay more attention to the employment needs of their financially stressed students. To effectively meet these needs, college leaders will have to mobilize and refocus their college communities, provide resources and implement methods and systems that can improve student employment results.

Ignoring such a significant issue speaks poorly of college leaders. Great college leaders put students first, take on the difficult problems and solve them. Poor leaders deceive themselves and others, put other priorities ahead of students, make excuses, shift blame, resist change and never realize how many students they have prevented from maximizing their success in the job market.

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