All that has to happen is to improve our nation's educational outcomes by offering a world competitive education to one and all Americans, including college. We'll focus on the all-in costs and rewards of a successful or failed K-12 and college experience herein.
Two simple factors are fundamental to success in college --- (1) being adequately prepared to do the academic work required upon entering and (2) making a determined effort to graduate in four years. Done successfully, these two things alone will make the effort, time and money spent preparing for and attending college both affordable and rewarding. College should be a great investment and graduation with a solid educational experience can a great income equalizer. But it's not happening enough throughout America these days.
Simply put, too many students arrive on campus unprepared and then don't pursue completion with the firm goal of earning their degree in four years. College is a serious multi-year investment and should be treated as such. And the 'time is money' principle applies big time to the overall endeavor.
If we want the investment effort, time and money spent on a college education to be well spent and appropriately rewarded in later life, being properly prepared upon entering college to do the work and get that coveted degree in a timely manner is the best way to reap the rewards of a 'higher education' upon graduation.
Most College Students Don't Earn a Degree in 4 Years, Study Finds has the story:
"The vast majority of students at American public colleges do not graduate on time . . . .
“Students and parents know that time is money,” said the report, called “Four-Year Myth.” “The reality is that our system of higher education costs too much, takes too long and graduates too few.”
At most public universities, only 19 percent of full-time students earn a bachelor’s degree in four years, the report found. . . .
Nationwide, only 50 of more than 580 public four-year institutions graduate a majority of their full-time students on time. Some of the causes of slow student progress, the report said, are inability to register for required courses, credits lost in transfer and remediation sequences that do not work. The report also said some students take too few credits per semester to finish on time. The problem is even worse at community colleges, where 5 percent of full-time students earned an associate degree within two years, and 15.9 percent earned a one- to two-year certificate on time.... it is costing students and their parents billions of extra dollars — $15,933 more in cost of attendance for every extra year of a public two-year college and $22,826 for every extra year at a public four-year college,” the report said. “Hands down, our best strategy to make college more affordable and a sure way to boost graduation rates over all is to ensure that many more students graduate on time.”
Each year, the report said, 1.7 million students begin college in remediation, including a majority of community college students — but only one in 10 remedial students ever graduate....
Tuition borrowers who do not graduate on time take on far more debt in their extra years ... two extra years on campus increases debt by nearly 70 percent."
Attending college represents a huge investment in time and money. So does the time spent in all the prior years during grades K-12.
Unfortunately, all too often much of this time ends up being wasted and not invested. Too often it's treated as merely something kids have to do while growing up.
The reality is that the effort, time and money which is well invested in K-12 and through the college experience will prove to be one of the very best investments a young person will ever make.
But despite that potential successful outcome, what should have been a terrific and life changing investment often ends up being a squandered opportunity and expensive waste of time and big money --- and borrowed money at that.
That's my take.