Debt and No Jobs . . . - The Missourian: Columns

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Debt and No Jobs . . .

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Posted: Friday, June 7, 2013 6:32 pm

The high cost of a college education at some colleges and universities is alarming. Even more alarming is that there aren’t jobs for many college graduates. And, most of all, the most shocking situation about a college education is the huge debt graduates have.

The number of scholarships awarded to help keep costs down for students is gratifying. Without scholarships, there is no way some students could afford college today. The people, businesses, and other sources of scholarships are providing a very valuable public service that is important to the future of this country.

In Wednesday’s Missourian, a large number of scholarships that have been offered to students were listed. The number is high. Some students were offered more than one scholarship. Many of the scholarships are for amounts that will cover only a small part of tuition costs. Others are of a higher value. We publish countless stories of students who are offered scholarships and accept them.

Students apply for scholarships and many are rewarded by being successful in their requests.

The best bargain in higher education are our community colleges. The cost is low and they enable a student to live at home and have a job close to home while attending college. When the establishment of East Central Community College was promoted back in the 1960s, the objectives were clearly outlined to the public. What was promised happened! Today it is possible to obtain a four-year degree at the same East Central campus through instruction provided by other colleges. The programs are limited.

East Central Community College is one of the most valuable assets the Franklin County area has. The good that it has created ranks at or near the top in benefits to the general public that has ever happened in this area. It’s a treasure that we must continue to guard by our support. We can foresee the day when it will be a four-year institution of higher learning.

All of this came to mind the past week when there was a Wall Street Journal book review by Daniel Akst, who wrote about “Walden on Wheels.” It’s a story by Ken Ilgunas and his battle for college degrees. He graduated from college in 2006 owing $32,000. He found that debt “so terrifying” that he worked frantically at low-paying jobs to get it paid off. “Then he earned a master’s degree without additional borrowing by living in a Ford Econoline van in a parking lot at Duke University,” the book review related.

In 2006, 17.4 million college grads worked in jobs that didn’t require college degrees, including 365,000 cashiers and some 100,000 janitors. Some college grads carry their debt to their graves. We read of the large number of people who are behind in their college loan payments. This is a crisis for which no one has an answer.

The University of Missouri System offers a bargain in education. That’s why the enrollment at Columbia has soared to more than 34,000. We recently attended a graduation program for students of a private high school in St. Louis. Mentioned for each student was where they plan to attend college. The majority were going to MU. Ranking next was Truman State University at Kirksville. There’s a reason. Both are excellent educational institutions and reasonable in cost compared to other schools.

The private schools on the secondary level and in higher education have tried to keep costs to students down. It’s a never-ending battle. Many are doing well, with strong enrollments.

One of the sad commentaries on attending college is there are some poor instructors and professors. We’ve all had a few.

The review had some criticism for Mr. Ilgunas, saying he seemed to be blind to his generation’s biggest error, “which is paying huge sums for mediocre schooling.” The reviewer claims Ilgunas made a mistake in borrowing money to attend a “costly second-rate private university for a year.” He added: “Yet ultimately Mr. Ilgunas’ borrowing turns out to have been a blessing, for it raised his consciousness and propelled him into a series of adventures far more instructive than his time in any classroom.”

/opinion/columns