New Study Finds More Students Losing Faith in The Value of College

By Andreas Fanos on August 8, 2022

Our modern-day society has long described the importance and great value of attending a university to pursue a college degree, however, more and more are losing faith in the system. We are currently seeing an increasing amount of students dropping out of college or choosing to not go entirely, according to multiple studies. There are some underlying reasons for this that I will go into further detail on and summarize what the studies have found.


This is obviously the number 1 reason people are losing faith in the college system and not attending. The coronavirus pandemic and today’s sky-record inflation have only accelerated the need to save money and not go into massive amounts of debt during a troubling time in America’s history. Many families are concerned about how much debt their kids would have to take on to afford it.

There is still major debate about whether a college education should be free. In some cases, New York City offers a free public school college education to low-income families within a certain income threshold. This does come with some rules and stipulations post-graduation. Others believe a college education should simply not be free of charge because it is something that betters someone’s life and making it free to all would come with a lot of issues and debt to the country. However, more colleges are looking for ways to help students fund a college education by reducing costs and offering more financial aid and scholarships.

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According to the new findings of an annual survey from a nonpartisan group called New America, the shared belief from Americans that college has a positive impact on the country dropped by 14% since 2020. According to the NPR article, today’s environment, the questions around investment, and the decline in the perception of a higher education factor into these findings. Much of this stems from the high price that comes with receiving a college education.

Return on investment and a different experience 

Parents, and students, likewise, are questioning the overall return on investment that comes with pursuing a college degree. Parents bring up affordability as a major fallback. Some students have been battling the increased costs of attending a college by going to one close to home or by simply attending the ones which are relatively cheaper. Community college is another cheaper option for students over attending a private or state university.

More parents and the like are questioning the value of a college education that is conducted remotely. Not only is the experience not the same as being involved in campus life and living in a dorm, students believe paying the same price for remote learning is unjustifiable. Some students can also be easily distracted and do not view it as the same experience compared to being in person for lectures. For example, at George Washington University, about 10% of the freshman class decided not to enroll when learning that the campus would be closed for the fall semester. However, like some other universities, they offered a discount for remote learning.

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Some colleges have even slashed tuition rates as a result of hardships from the coronavirus pandemic and rising inflation. It is good to see that some colleges are listening to students and reducing costs so they can attend and receive an education.

Career training and other routes 

Another reason for the decline in college enrollment could very well be due to availability of other resources. Trade school serves as another option for young adults. Not only is trade school cheaper, but there are some careers in it that can pay much more than those that require a college degree such as becoming an HVAC technician, electrician, plumber, and many other occupations. More high schools are starting to offer programs where students can attend trade school at the same time and earn a degree.

According to a new study of high school students, there was a nearly 20% decrease in seniors speaking about the possibility of attending a college or university after finishing out high school. According to the findings from a nonprofit group called ECMC Group, students are more focused on employment possibilities and career training out of the gate.

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According to the CNBC article, institutions of higher education lost a sizeable amount of income, in the range of hundreds of millions in 2020. They also accounted for 500,000 students opting out of attending a college. In addition, according to data collected from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, undergraduate enrollment was down 4%, while the fall freshman class declined by 13% from the previous year. The director plans for this to continue going into 2021 and beyond.

The solution

The trend of fewer attending college will very well continue throughout the pandemic and into the future. The pandemic, rising inflation, a different experience, and debt are all prime reasons as to why people have lost faith in the college system. An increasing amount of students could very well choose to take the trade school route instead of the traditional college one.

The real question is: are they right? What kind of implications will this have in the future? Some can easily argue there is underlying value to college than just the careers and the degree that comes with it because of the social aspect and ability to learn a lot about yourself.

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