Solutions to Student Loan Debt
I agree with the premise of the argument that something should be done about student loan debt. But once again people fail to get to the root cause of problems and want simplistic solutions that do not solve the problem and often times have pretty severe unintended consequences. At the core of the intent of student loan debt was that students would invest in their own future after being provided with a 'free' foundational education, available to all. When our 'free' schools started to fail many students, colleges stepped in and determined they needed to provide high school graduates and GED recipients with a two year review of what they should have learned before they entered and paid for college. That is a total waste of ones money. Solution #1 - fix the 'free' system so college students do not need to pay for a repeat of primary and secondary educational systems. Solution #2- make the ROI on education worthwhile. Colleges and particularly universities have shifted their focus from providing their students with an education that prepares them for the workforce and enables them to pay back student loans. Instead the focus is heavily on research and activities geared to promote a political agenda. The quality of work required by students has dropped significantly and more focus has been shifted to 'answering the questions and issues raised in a way that supports the answer the instructor is seeking' rather true critical thinking skills that enable effective problem solving. It used to be that college graduates were respected by potential employers because they took their own time and money (and not necessarily their parents money) to invest in their future. Now it is seen as a 'check box' on a requirement list, whether the value is there or not. Solution #3- fix the economy so that graduating students can get jobs to pay back their loans. This is a complex issue and one where I believe colleges and universities could play a significant role in helping their students set the stage for their own future. Once you remove the political ideology from schools and seek to conduct unbiased research in the post industrial workplace to a more information based workplace, we can then start making our institutes of higher education true incubators and laboratories to experiment with innovative ideas for creating economic models that serve the needs of everyone, not just certain groups of people. We are no longer united Americans partly because institutes of higher education have been used to promote political ideology. We have become a nation of people who identify first with a protected class status and then, in some cases, as a united group of Americans. We are defined first by our race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation then as Democrats, Republicans or Independents, and then in some cases as Americans. Colleges and Universities and education in general, were supposed to help tear down the walls between these groups but instead have only reinforced and strengthened the divide because we identify first and foremost with our protected class or political affiliation. Until we quit focusing on our differences and start appreciating our common values and interests we cannot create an economy that works for everyone. Common ground must supersede self-interest. We need to look beyond the past and define new economic models that take the best of what worked in capitalism, socialism, etc. and build on that to create a new model that factors in all the worldwide changes that have disrupted these past models and create a new model, conceptualized in the laboratories of formal educational institutes but implemented and refined in the 'real' world by well educated people who are creative problem solvers who work well in diverse teams of people with differing viewpoints but seeking common ground to develop solutions that work for everyone. These people will be resilient as they persevere through the challenges they encounter in defining this new and improved way of living. Solution #4 - institutes of higher education need to better align their costs with what their graduating students can absorb once they enter the workforce. If they do not change their economic structure to support their graduating students only the students who come from wealthy families will be able to afford their services, furthering the educational and economic divide that plaques this country. At the core of most of our societal problems is this divide. Student loan will be solved when we get to the real root of the problem, not just attacking its outward symptoms.