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2016 Segment 1 - Student Loan Debt Related to Higher Education

Outcome: 100% of students who wish to be employed will be employed in the career of their choice with no debt.

Panelists:

"Remarkable" Speaker:   Erick Allen https://www.linkedin.com/in/erickallen

Moderator:  Todd Thurston https://www.linkedin.com/in/toddthurston

How might we build a solution that results in the stated outcome?

Is the stated outcome desirable? Attainable?

How can you help us achieve it? Or - is there a better outcome that you can suggest?

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Here is a relevant article from the UK that references the USA and it provides some research sources also.

The Unemployable Graduate Crisis and How We Can Fix It

Any surprises or insights?

This Economist article makes me rethink education - these new approaches described are cross-disciplinary, hands-on, and "challenge driven." See Flying High .

What would Higher Ed look like it we applied an Uber Model?

Currently - Mass Transportation and Higher Education are designed to move masses of people from one location to another. Neither the beginning point nor the end point are where the traveler or student actually starts or wants to end. We have "learned" to settle for this as our only alternative to educating or transporting ourselves.

Uber - however - has given us the opportunity to be met "where we are" and taken to "where we want to be."  Mass Transportation and Higher Education also require a highly subsidized infrastructure - Uber does not - it relies on technology?

Is there an alternative to higher education that does not require a highly subsidized infrastructure that will meet us where we are and take us to where we want to be?

College is more than learning a hard skill; the importance of teaching the soft skills of critical thinking, and respect for different thinking seem to be going away.  These skills are required for ALL jobs, whether learned in a traditional 4-year, vocational, on-the-job or self taught.  

Great Dialog this morning on the topic of Student Debt. I am glad I was able to be a part of the dialog and I am even more excited to be a part of the challenge to tackle this issue in Georgia. Here are the key themes that I observed from the discussion groups: (The thoughts expressed are from the collective group and not my own)

  1. Why Does it take 4 years to get a college degree no matter the degree/certificate? Can we tailor programs to fit the desired learning outcome.
  2. Can we have more vocational education in High Schools? Programs that prepare young people for the workforce.
  3. More service and intern opportunities
  4. How can corporate citizens do more to accommodate co-ops and internships?
  5. How do we/parents finance the "shoot for the stars" culture that we are in? Challenging kids to dream big.
  6. How do we not just sell a loan to a student without accessing the students future/current ability to be successful in the role or career they are studying?
  7. What role does government backed loans play in student debt?
  8. Should college continue to be a way to measure generational success?
  9. How much of student loan money goes to education / books as opposed to living/ other expenses?

All great questions and observations so I am looking forward to seeing the dialog.

First, Thanks to Paul Terlemezian for creating this network. Enjoyed the first ever remarkable speaker Erick Allen adding his observations above alongside Jennie Rodriguez's comments.

Glad I could be with all of you yesterday. Back to the startup world for me today where questions on student debt abound! (Our solution at Affordable College PBC is to help more of the 10.5M community and technical college students afford and attain a high-quality degree, certificate, or credential.)

Here are the highlights from our table. My questions were: 

  1. Why does anyone need a degree?
  2. What is the value of a degree?

We had some great dialogue some highlights of which I had the ability to put down. (I apologize for missing highlights and mistaking identities connected to ideas. I was busy having fun! I hope anyone that notices an error will correct it here for us.)

  1. Max Herrell jumped out with, “I have a Bachelor of Science (BS), Nuclear Engineering but I don’t use that now.”  By the way, he also built a sewage pipe one summer with his hands so he knew he didn’t want a career doing that. Good motivation.
  2. Douglas Dell replied that some fields do need to use the degree they earn, like CPA’s

Why can some people be successful without using their degree and others cannot?

  1. Kellie Huff asked why aren’t we encouraging students to pursue workforce fields instead of pointing 18 year olds who aren’t ready to the 4-year degree?
  2. Tim Loden said parents think, they’re “not going to do what I did” and asked “Why is that built in?
  3. Fred Jewell suggested because of the stigma associated with either not having a degree or working in the trades.
  4. I wondered how that idea connected to Rosalie’s comment that a degree creates a “common language”
  5. As Carolyn (Lyn) Turknett said “it’s aspirational” about the degree
  6. Randy Palubiak voiced concern over the way students are led into student debt without guidance or understanding.

Restating the outcome from the session, “Outcome: 100% of students who wish to be employed will be employed in the career of their choice with no debt.”

My question still stands. Why do you need a college degree? Is a college degree about in demand skills that lead people to careers based on competencies or is it a standard that employers and others use to identify people as likely to succeed? Depending on how you answer this question, you’d likely have completely different solutions for the stated outcome.

Would love to hear more from everyone on this topic. I am thinking about it all the time while working on Affordable College. http://affordablecollege.org

Several thoughts on student lons:

1) There is a multi-faceted bias pushing students to get them when they are, in many cases ill-advised. Forces that "bias" kids include loan companies who want to offer the loans - societal/peer/parental push to go to college whether there is a clear-cut objective, it is perceptively a "free" way to go to college, etc. 

2) Student loans should be looked at as a last resort. Alternatives include scholarships, grants, ROTC/GI Bill, Co/Op, part-time... 

3) Student loans look and feel like the easy way to go to college because payment is deferred but students do not truly understand this. A required course before taking a student loan should be required.

4) While some kids are ready for college right out of high school, others end up wasting their time and money by going. Deferring college should be considered an option for kids who are indecisive, immature, "hate" school, might be better suited for a non college type of work.

5) Some kind of two year service commitment (military, peace corps, non-profit, entry level government jobs...), in exchange for government provided educational funding.

6) Greater focus on skill training that does not require a college degree - whether connected with high school, a community college, tech school or private provider - this is really the right answer for a lot of kids and would respond to the specific worker demands in the marketplace today.

Botom line - we need to do a public service campaign of some sort promoting the alternatives to student loans and for every high scholl graduate to go directly to college.   

Well, here I am headed into a room full of seniors at Creekside High School. From their teacher, this is what they want to know:

"they said they want to hear more about the expectations of college admissions criteria and alternative methods to pay for college. Also, a few of my students may need to understand the pros and cons of attending a community college in comparison to a university directly after high school and how the "credit system" even works. Most of them are applying to less competitive schools and may not understand the ranking of schools and how the quality of a school may impact future opportunities."

So, what do I tell them?

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