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ARU Deciding to Return to School as An Adult Discussion Reply

ARU Deciding to Return to School as An Adult Discussion Reply


please respond. to. neville:

While reflecting on things learned in this course balanced against my experiences in higher education, I had to ask myself if it is indeed worth the energy, expense, and missed alternatives. I would suggest that as current students balancing work, family, other obligations, and graduate level studies, we frequently ask ourselves this question! However, we somehow find the time to make it happen. Each of us has our own motivations for pursuing this level of study. One can argue that a common belief, we all have, and as we read in our text, “the data reveal that the average earnings rises substantially with educational attainment” (Toutkoushian & Paulsen, 2018, p. 94). Additionally, “there are sizable financial gains from investing in education at the primary, secondary, undergraduate, and graduate levels” (Toutkoushian & Paulsen, 2018, p. 94).

Other research has indicated that, “97 percent of good jobs created since 2010 have gone to college graduates (Carnevale, Jayasundera, & Gulish, 2015 as cited in Chan, 2016, p. 3). While the notion of what makes a “good” job is debatable, I would surmise that these would be the jobs where a college degree makes for a more marketable candidate as there is verifiable and documented proof that specific training has been attained. Although one can obtain substantial earnings in positions that do not require a college degree, the opportunity to get to certain levels is easier via a college degree. As Abel and Deitz (2014, p. 8) noted, “despite the recent struggles of college graduates, investing in a college degree may be more important than ever before because those who fail to do so are falling further and further behind.”

Another argument for attending college is something I learned in undergraduate sociology. Marriage or lasting friendships or relationships is a secondary effect of attending college. It is noted that “while more-educated women have the highest chances for a long-term marriage, college-educated men also stand out. Roughly two-thirds (65%) of men with a bachelor’s degree could expect that, if they marry, their first marriage will last 20 years or longer, compared with 50% of men with a high school diploma or less” (Wang, 2015). I think this would be an interesting future study as we are now experiencing “gray divorces” – where adults over 50 years old are choosing to become single again. This may be attributed to the expanding gap between the educational achievements of women and their accompanying earnings increase.

Two aspects that I would like to see change in the higher education marketplace are a uniform accreditation standard and completely free tuition for community or technical colleges. By uniform accreditation standard, I would like to see a requirement that all higher education institutions be regionally accredited. I feel that the lower standards of national accreditation is responsible for the influx of for-profit institutions into the market. While the text notes that the increased supply did not cause the expected lower prices, I believe that it caused a reduction in state allocations to public institutions which led to tuition increases. “It is not surprising that the substantial increase in the for-profit sector has not led to lower prices for postsecondary education” (Toutkoushian & Paulsen, 2018, p. 194). As someone who worked for two for-profit institutions, I noted that their business models tended to exploit students’ finances and their learning did not match the cost.  

I would like to see free community and technical colleges because I agree that a real college education has impact on the quality of life, critical thinking skills, and can expose students to things outside of their normal environment. I believe that will go a long way to removing so-called generational curses and providing more opportunities for economic growth nationally, rather than reliance on other countries for certain skillsets. This ties into what I learned of significance in this course. I have been in higher education for a very long time and my experiences align with the course content. However, I never knew the concept of undermatching. When I read about that, it helped me to understand some of the choices students, I advise and mentor, make. As noted in the text, “the most consistent results indicate that the likelihood of student undermatching behavior increases significantly for lower-income students, first generation students, and rural students” (Toutkoushian & Paulsen, 2018, p. 374). This is primarily the student population I currently work with and when I compare their career plans with students from universities where I worked, it all makes sense. This encourages me to reach out to our feeder schools and community partners to develop forums where faculty and student leaders can become a resource to bridge some gaps.

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