I’ve commented on Higher Education in the past, but I feel it is in a crisis state and should be revisited.
The crisis in Higher Education is occurring because college is transforming from a place of “higher learning” to a vocational school. Ask any professor, and they will tell you that a four-year university degree was never intended to train you for work. Instead, it was intended to allow you to learn deeply, and especially in one area of intense interest. Hopefully, of course, there would be an employer interested in hiring a person who possessed such interest and talent in their chosen major, after they graduated.
The system worked in the past because not a lot of students wanted to attend a four-year university — it was perceived as being “very hard”, and it should be. But unfortunately, now students need more learning to acquire a job at all. My solution is to make all four-year state universities adopt a strict grading scale (10% A’s, 20% B’s, 40% C’s, 20% D’s, and 10% F’s). This would be for all university courses, not just in the STEM majors. With such a tough grading scale, more students would choose to get a 2-year degree (at least first). This would greatly reduce the cost of college tuition since a 2-year degree costs much less, and it would still prepare people to get a job. (They can always go on to get a 4-year degree in the future, when they are more mature and motivated.)
Two-year community colleges should be beefed up to be more rigorous as more students would now attend them. They should abandon the “liberal arts” classes and instead design English, Math and other subjects to be practically associated with real-world work applications, and have apprenticeships and internships woven in. This way employers would have work-ready students to employ. (Businesses can’t afford to do a lot of training, and they shouldn’t have to. Students should have practical skills when they start). By reducing the number of students who attend four-year universities, it will greatly reduce the cost in education. Of course, this may require some colleges (especially small liberal arts colleges) to go out of business, but they can re-brand themselves into practical two-year schools. With the amount of post secondary education exploding in need, there should be enough work for everyone.