Kitchen Table Economics

American Higher Education Needs to be Realigned

The average cost to attend a traditional university in the United States ranges from $25,000 to $35,000 per year, depending on whether the school is a public or private institution. And according to a recent Gallup poll, 44 million Americans accumulated a total of $1.3 trillion in student loan debt to pay for it.

Not only are skyrocketing college costs putting a crippling financial burden onto our young people, but the institutions aren’t doing a very good job of prepping students for life after college. In fact, only 11 percent of business leaders agree that college graduates are prepared for the workforce—not to mention that only 35 percent of college students feel prepared for a job themselves.

The lack of readiness for the real world is not just harming students, but also the business community. In fact, employers in major industries are reporting that they can’t find enough skilled job candidates to fill open positions—which according to recent government data, there are 6 million of.

The gap reveals a systemic problem with higher education in America. While a traditional college education is necessary in some cases, a bachelor’s degree is no longer a guarantee for a good-paying job. While bachelor’s degrees may still be pushed by high school administrators, alternative options like trade or vocational schools might be more beneficial in attaining a successful future career–many of which pay $50,000 or more per year.

It’s time that we change our attitudes and behavior towards higher education in order to take advantage of the millions of hard-skills-based jobs that are actually available—instead of prepping young people for positions they are unlikely to procure. To learn more about fighting for $50,000 careers, visit