It’s incredible how one piece of paper can carry so much clout, cost so much money, and be so necessary for building any sort of ‘life’ in society. Some have it handed to them, some bust their asses at three jobs and pull all-nighters just to get prepared for the memorization spewing called ‘tests’ or’ exams’. I read today two pieces regarding higher education and rethinking it’s value and structure in this graduation season. The first, a piece by David Brooks and the second by David Bornstein, both for The New York Times.

“They enter a bad job market, the hangover from decades of excessive borrowing. They inherit a ruinous federal debt.”—David Brooks

That’s very true. Not only do hopeful college graduates have a terribly bleak job market, but they also rack up huge amounts of debt themselves just to go through all those years of school to be rewarded with said job market (or lack there of). If the government invested more of tax payer’s money into education and renewable energies it could create a whole new industry, keep people from taking on huge amounts of debt, and pave a better future. But instead we increase the budget for the Department of Defense by an extra $22billion, bringing the base to $553billion (not to mention the Dept. of Homeland Security’s increase of $309million to $43.2billion). The Department of Education’s budget is $77.4billion. Why is it that America spends such an astronomical amount on killing people while spending only 14% of that on educating the youth of this country?

“Government subsidies and financial aid are insufficient to address the demand for college financing at the global level: private investors will need to jump in — but it won’t work if they simply offer students more high-interest loans, as they have in the past. To serve millions of low- and moderate-income people, college financing has to be redesigned.”—David Bornstein

If the government will not help educate the youth of the world, hell even of this country, then it will be up to ground-breaking projects like that called Lumni.

“About 80 percent of Lumni’s investments have gone into non-profit funds that are targeted to achieve social goals like financing the education of students who come from indigenous communities, are disabled, or want to work as teachers in rural areas. These nonprofit funds can finance more students than scholarships or grants, because the money is replenished. They act like ‘pay it forward’ scholarships. To date, 300 of Lumni’s students have graduated and 70 have finalized their obligations. Some have become successful enough to become investors.”

This is just one different way of financing, approaching, and thinking about how education should be structured. The colleges of America act like for profit businesses when they should instead be acting like non-profit organizations providing a necessity for citizens. In my senior year at Flagler College I was told in person by our stupendous President William Abare that his job was to “make the college money.” When a few of us in the meeting retorted back, “Shouldn’t your job as President of the college be to educate your students as best as possible?” To which he replied, “My first priority is to make Flagler College profitable as a business.”

If you could hear the hopes shatter of wide-eyed early 20-somethings that room would have been at 140-decibels. This is the way lots of colleges are run and that sort of thinking needs to be completely erased from the blackboard and a new philosophy written with the chalk of investment for the future good of our nation.

I’ll let David Brooks wrap this all up: “More important, their lives have been perversely structured. No one would design a system of extreme supervision to prepare people for a decade of extreme openness. But this is exactly what has emerged in modern America.”

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