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After the pandemic, four years of college are steadily losing their appeal

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After the pandemic, four years of college are steadily losing their appeal

18-year-old Xander Miller will graduate from Hastings High School in Hastings, Minnesota, in June this year, and he has big plans for the future.

Instead of attending Minnesota or earning a humanities degree like his older brother, Miller enrolled in Dakota County College of Technology with a guaranteed job under a student’s waste management program.

“I had plans to go to a four-year school,” he said. However, “it didn’t seem valuable enough to me to recoup the cost.”

Instead, Miller will start working as a part-time technician and then move on to a staff member with tools and pay for training.

Xander Miller, right, with brother Andrew and mother Lisa.

Source: Xander Miller

According to a survey of high school students, more than two years after the pandemic nearly three-quarters, or 73% of high school students believe that a direct path to a career is needed in higher education.

The probability of attending a four-year school has fallen by 20% in the last two years – to 51% from 71%, the ECMC Group found.

High school students are paying more attention to career training and employment after college, the report said. ECMC Group, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping students succeed, has surveyed more than 5,300 high school students five times since February 2020.

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Nearly half, or 42%, now say their ideal plans after graduation will take three years in college or less, while 31% said it should last two years or less.

Even before the pandemic, students began considering more affordable direct career alternatives to a four-year degree, said Jeremy Wheaton, president and CEO of ECMC Group.

The rising cost of college and the increase in student loan balances played a big part, but “they [students] they are more knowledgeable than we pay tribute to them, “Wheaton said.” They know about vacancies that are in high demand. “

However, most said they feel pressure, mostly from parents and society, to get a four-year degree – even though a public college or career and technical training may make more sense.

During the pandemic, tuition and fee increases were very low by historical standards, according to a report from the College Council, which tracks trends in pricing in colleges and student assistance.

In the 2021-22 academic year, average tuition and fees increased 1.3% to $ 3,800 for two-year school students; 1.6% for students enrolled in public four-year public colleges, reaching $ 10,740; and 2.1% for students of four-year private institutions up to $ 38,070.

Now some colleges are raising tuition fees to 5%, they say inflation and other pressures.

“We have increased the cost of undergraduate study by 4.25% next school year, the largest increase in 14 years,” Boston University President Robert Brown said in a letter to the community recently.

“We find ourselves in inflationary pressures between institutional pressures and influences on our students and their families,” he wrote.

The more changes you make to the system, the more people back down.

Jeremy Wheaton

President and CEO of ECMC Group

“Now students have to keep in mind that it will cost more and a wild loan forgiveness card,” Wheaton said. “The more changes you make to the system, the more people back down.”

Nationwide, fewer students returned to college this year, cutting enrollment by another 3.1% over last year, according to report National Student Clearinghouse Research Center based on college data.

Now the number of students has decreased by 6.6% compared to two years ago – the loss of more than 1 million students.

Another 17% of current students said they would not return next year, and 19% were unsure of their plans, according to a separate Intelligent.com survey, which surveyed 1,250 students in April.

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