Like many, I am educated, but I am also in debt because I wanted to earn a bachelor’s degree. While some are fortunate and have college paid for by parents, full scholarships or other means – many of us paid for college out of loans that we are still repaying.
In a recent story in the New York Times, a college graduate said she was prepared to get out of college, get a high-paying job and life was going to be great because she earned that degree we put so much value on. Value is right, however, as she may be done with school, but now the government says its time to pay. In this case, she had $80,000 in debt.
As a society, we should be ashamed at the price we are making students pay for an education. Many question students who drop out, but as many will tell you they couldn’t work two jobs, pay loans and finish a degree. Instead, they quit. They get lower-paying jobs, wish they had a degree to better their lives, but at least they don’t have the mounting debt.
The fact is, society pays for the mounting number of uneducated filling our workforce. Look just in Tucson. The Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities (TREO) organization says there are 2,900 unfilled skilled positions. What that means iswhen the higher-paying jobs aren’t being filled with qualified workers, less money is being spent in the community. That results in the trickle-down effect. Think about it, roads are repaired from tax dollars, businesses stay open when customers are spending money.
So, what is the answer? I would say Starbucks took a huge leap forward in setting a good example by taking their great success and putting back into allowing their employees to make their owner lives better.
Last week, Starbucks announced that it would help cover the cost of two years of education at Arizona State University Online for its employees. On “The Daily Show,” Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said, “Today we will become the first U.S. company to provide free college tuition for all our employees.” The crowd went wild.
It is being said that this is a way to start addressing the student debt crisis in this nation. I say it’s not only a good step in that direction, but it also sends a message to Starbucks’ employees that they are valued. They put so much value into their employees that they want to give them more.
It would be wonderful to see other companies that have enjoyed major success in our country come forward and do the same thing. Make it possible to educate our citizens, make it possible to make this country better just by doing a little extra each year.
The Starbucks plan is far from perfect, but it’s a step. It’s a step in showing that we have a major crisis in this country that’s only going to get worse unless the government, and society as a whole addresses it.
This also includes the colleges providing the education. Year after year, tuition is increased in the name of improving services. That has to stop. Tuition increases aren’t helping to get educated students in high-paying jobs and ready to contribute to a successful society.
Instead, education standards in our colleges are decreasing, students are less prepared for the real world and the years upon years of debt just shows them it wasn’t worth it in the end.
The system as a whole has to change before major structural changes can take place.