Free College Won’t Be Enough To Prepare Americans For The Future Of Work

from Brookings

As the Democratic presidential candidates gather in Westerville, Ohio for the fourth primary debate on Tuesday, they would do well to acknowledge the growing public concern about the “future of work.” As a Midwestern swing state that has an intimate history with displacement and its consequences, Ohio is a fitting place for candidates to offer more robust solutions to issues such as automation and artificial intelligence, which will likely have disproportionate impacts on certain American communities and populations, including places like Westerville.

The candidates have not been completely silent on these issues. Andrew Yang and Pete Buttigieg have elevated the potential problems of digital transformation and its tendency to exacerbate inequality. However, their policy solutions—a universal basic income and enhancing the bargaining power of gig workers, respectively—fail to tackle the mass redeployment of labor from one set of skill demands to another, while minimizing harm and displacement. Other candidates—Julián Castro, Beto O’Rourke, and Tulsi Gabbard—have referenced a general need to invest more in workforce programs and retraining, but the debate about skills and education has, strangely, not gone much deeper than that.

Meanwhile, the most common responses that candidates have given to questions about rising inequality have focused on either “free college” or enhancing college access more broadly. Several have referenced the need to invest more in skills training for the new economy, but the headline-grabbing proposals have come from Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, who emphasize free tuition for public universities and two-year colleges.

More here.

Posted in Education, Ideas and tagged , .


  1. There is a saying that goes, “Hard times make tough people, tough people make good times, good times make weak people, and weak people make tough times.” The cycle then continues to repeat itself. As a country, we are certainly in good times. Our economy on the surface level is performing well, unemployment is at an all time low, and the quality of life in America is the best that it has ever been. It is quite clear that these good times are currently creating weak people as a result of things being “easier” than they have been. For example, out of roughly 34 million Americans between the ages of 17-24, over 70% of them are not qualified to join the military, mainly due to health problems and lack of physical fitness. This number is only continuing to increase, and we may see a serious national security crisis as those that are physically and mentally able to join the military decrease. With the upcoming 2020 presidential election, we have two of the frontrunners looking to make college free and cancel all student debt in the United States. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are looking to make public college free as well as community colleges for at least the first two years to minimize the damages of what digital transformation will do the job market in the upcoming years. I believe that these ideas will not work and only make matters worse.
    As said in my first paragraph, we are in a place in time where society is becoming weak. Young adults would rather sit around and play video games for several hours rather than playing a sport. The main problem is that everyone is starting to get really lazy and expect things handed to them, and that goes for the idea of free college. Taking away the cost of college will reduce the incentive of students wanting to work hard. I’ve heard numerous times from people in high school that did poorly that they’ll get it together for college where they have to pay for it. If we take away the element of students having to pay for college, they won’t see a point in trying to do the best that they possibly can. Along with college, what’s the point of trying in high school to get good grades if college is now free? I worked very hard in high school to do well because I knew that I could potentially get a scholarship that would greatly lower my costs of attending college. Free college would take away this incentive for all students in high school, since they all know that as long as they get into a college, it is free.
    When things are handed to you, your work ethic greatly drops as well. How does giving everyone a free college education necessarily better the chances for the coming change in digital transformation? It doesn’t and in fact, it will make them worse off since they won’t have a full understanding of hard-work when the job market narrows. The article does a great job in suggesting that we need to invest more in workforce programs, since only about 0.1% of our GDP goes into it. Our education should be focused more on practical and blended pathways rather than academic. On-the-job training is essentially the most important component for a student to learn what their major that they chosen is really all about. Almost every accountant that I have talked to tells me that a lot of the topics I’m learning in school won’t be relevant for my job. This is certainly frustrating that I am required to learn material that won’t help me with my career. This is what politicians should be trying to implement for students, not just give them a free education. As stated, society is creating weak people because we are taking out the meaning of hard-work out of people’s lives.

    • As the article states, for more than 30 years the dominant policy for enhancing economic opportunity in the U.S. has been to give college for free to all. The discussion of free college tuition is always talked about by presidential candidates and for a good reason. If they talk about giving students free tuition that is a big section of voters that will be interested in it because they are paying for college. While this is a good idea, I think it gives off the wrong impression for my generation. For many, their childhoods consisted of them getting almost anything they wanted, from toys to electronics. With the addition of free tuition, they will start to think that anything they want in life they can get because someone will pay for it and they will never have to work. For me personally, I had to work for something if I wanted it. Giving free tuition also might take the drive out of it for some people. I know for me I am paying a hefty amount for college and it is a good motivator for me because I want to get my moneys worth, but if it is free, I feel like I might not have as much drive to get it done. Giving free tuition to the current generation in college may not only set them on a bad track towards their career, but it may discourage companies from hiring them. Everyone in the labor force with a degree has had to pay for it one way or another, and if they see that a younger generation gets their degree for free, they may be upset with them and no want to hire. While tuition shouldn’t be free, it should be reasonable so that students with different majors have a chance to pay it off.

    • Despite the opposition against free college tuition, I personally think that this idea, once it is tweaked and improved, is a good start to achieving equal opportunity in higher education.
      To begin with, the idea that offering free college tuition would lower student drive to do well in school is completely invalid. Just because the tuition is free, does not mean that being accepted into the school is any easier. The student’s academic records will be held to the same standard, if not higher, in order to attend the institution.
      Additionally, free tuition will not act as a band-aid to the tracking problem in the United States, but it will more than likely dwindle the economic gap and race gap in higher education. Oftentimes, the tracking practice is faulty, considering that students taking certain courses do so for credit and not specialization of certain skills. This unequivocally makes a student waste their time, instead of practicing and perfecting their craft in whatever field they may actually have the desire and ability to tend to. Not just that, but a free tuition standard will allow very capable individuals to pursue their full potential. Many subside with an associate’s degree, settle for trade school, or refuse to pursue medical and or law school because of the bizarre costs of higher education; albeit, minimizing the cost of tuition will simply be a gateway to the right majors for the right individuals, and thus a perfect fit for them within society.
      Truly, it boggles my mind that anyone could possibly be against free tuition for students, knowing the strain that comes from it. Many capable students miss out on the opportunity to go to college because they cannot afford it, nor can they bear the guilt of putting the burden of lifetime debt on their families or themselves. A system, such as the one established in the US, where ridiculous prices lead to less individuals in the white-collar work force, more debt, and an obvious gap between minorities and successful completion of higher education. Contrary to the idea expressed within the article, free college tuition is enough to prepare students for the future work force because it provides not only knowledge needed for whatever path they choose, but it genuinely carves out skills within students needed for success at life in general; such as critical thinking, problem solving, socialization and etc.

  2. I think the main reason for this article is to outline the fact that certain jobs are not going to be here in the future because of things like automation. I agree with being worried about this because it is a major problem that my generation of people going into their 20’s will be facing when getting out of college with the degree we just paid a lot for. To go through that and have a degree for something that is no automated would be a terrible thing. I am glad that the decide to mention in the beginning the ideas that candidates have had that would not help the issue and have not gained any traction, to then just discussing routes that people take along their academic path and where it leads them. Some of the ideas mentioned were the notion of a universal basic income, which is communism, and free college, which would kill the economy. This article also does a very good job at organizing its facts and making them easily presentable. The author knows she is about to use terms that most people do not know, so she describes them in the beginning. This allows the reader to understand the words they will be seeing in the later paragraphs without her having to explain them multiple times. She also clearly states what each paragraph is going to be about in the first statement in bold. In terms of business writing, this is golden. Although the general consensus of writing is to keep it as short as you can, she has it moderately long, but lets you choose what you want to read. If a particular subject is directly related to the reader, they are able to identify it quickly and read it if they do so choose. The reader also ends with a call to action of the next president to make our talent development more equitable. This is very direct, even though she could have provided her own opinion of what he/she should do. In my opinion one fix to some of these issues is limiting the amount of automation companies are allowed to have which would take strain of workers. Once a company hits the cap, they are no longer allowed to replace workers with artificial intelligence and the rest must be done by labor.

  3. This article was very interesting and eye-opening. While many young people see “free college” as an immediate yes, it has a lot of drawbacks that are not thought of. One of the main issues college graduates face once entering the workforce, is that they are lacking the technological skillset needed to perform their job. This is then only learned through experience at the job or having one’s employer sending their employees to a workshop to understand the ins and outs of the necessary technology. This is not only a large issue for college graduates, but people who are already in the workforce. This is because the new advancements in technology and the increasing popularity of artificial intelligence are forcing people either out of their jobs or are calling for retraining. However, many companies do not want to spend the money to have their entire staff retrained, so they will opt with letting them go and implementing as many technological advancements as possible. This is a very real issue people are facing in their jobs that may cause unemployment rates to skyrocket with each new advancement.
    What would be most beneficial for future college students is to implement a system like Switzerland has, where one is able to have both occupational and technical skills with actual on the job training, which is called a blended pathway. Or, a qualification framework where one is able to go from one pathway to another with ease. Both of these aspects would be beneficial, because it would ensure many college students have actual experience in their workforce before they are exposed to it. Which will overall help them because they will know how to use the technology and be familiar with it.
    Overall, one of the main issues with the presidential debate is the want to provide free college while also keeping people in their current jobs now. This is very iffy, because it is hard to ensure both, one of them will always outweigh or corrupt the other. As proven in the article, the “college-for-all” strategy is not working for everyone, because not everyone is meant to have further education, and that is ok. Society needs to realize that while further education is beneficial and will expand one’s wealth of knowledge, that can be achieved in other ways and not just by attending the typical four year university.

  4. As someone who was recently in the world of college applications, I completely agree with this article. There is so much to be said about the experience of young people in the United States when it comes to the transition out of high school and into the “real world”. Even though I went to a school with access to a bunch of vocational schools as well as work-study programs, most of my peers felt the need to go to college. I think one thing missing from the article is a discussion on American’s attitudes towards what a person should do post-high school. There simply are not enough students exploring the world of technical school and community college. For young adults, college is not just about preparing for a future job, it’s a sign of success. One of the first things you get asked when seeing family members is, “So what college are you going to?” The question very rarely is, “What are your plans after high school?” Growing up in an America that prizes massive success, it’s difficult for young adults to even imagine not having an answer. My sister didn’t graduate and hasn’t been to college in over four years. When family members ask her, she comes up with something that has to do with her still going to college or “working on it”. Despite that fact that she’s realized that college wasn’t helping her, she refuses to give up the prospect that she might go back to finish a degree she never really wanted in the first place. Economically, this is not a good sign for our future workforce. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 69.7% of students who graduated high school in 2016 were enrolled in college, and 49% of those students were enrolled in community college according to a separate study done by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. In a world with a growing economy, what we don’t need is an over-abundance of skilled workers, specifically workers who went to college rather than trade school. Why? Because rarely do these people want to work in lower paying jobs. If they do, they see it as a temporary placement and rarely stay in one place at a time. More than that, companies hiring people skilled in specific trades have problems finding properly educated people.

    I would have to argue a lot of this comes down to the atmosphere of K-12 education systems. In elementary school, they tell you they are preparing you for middle school. In middle school, they’re suddenly preparing you for high school. In high school, well now they’re preparing you for college. Not trade school, not entering jobs that don’t require degrees or training. They are preparing you for college. This puts a standard on what high school students are supposed to be doing post-graduation. If you’re not going to a good college, then you’re not really passionate in life. People who go to trade schools, despite the fact that they will quite literally become experts in a specific field, are treated as if they are taking the easy way out. Going to college is prized, with no real explanation. Most of these students don’t really have an idea of what they’re doing, which is one of the reasons why so many students don’t graduate within 8-years.

    On the other hand, you also have the issue with minimum wage not being a living wage. Most of my peers and I have all worked minimum wage jobs. It’s not easy. Sure, It doesn’t necessarily require a whole lot of mind power, however, many part-time workers are working upwards of 60-hours a week at multiple different jobs. They have to in order to survive. Conversely, people like Jeff Bezos are pocketing millions of dollars each day while also cutting the health benefits of the people who put that money in their pocket in the first place. We need to create a society where part time work is prized. Most people don’t realize how much of their lives depends on the same part-time workers they criticize for not working hard enough, or not being deserving of a living wage.

  5. It has been quite vindicating to see the Democratic primary in shambles these past few weeks. The party has seen a split between the candidates who propose radical measures such as Medicare for all (Sanders, Warren), and the moderates who propose more practical, grounded versions of those plans, such as public option (Biden).

    “Free college” has been in talks for quite a while now, and made a push into mainstream Democratic thought with Bernie Sanders’ 2016 election.

    This article makes the audacious claim that free college actually does not take it far enough to solve the economic problem facing the younger generations. The fact of the matter is that there are many problems with making college free by itself. Taking similar measures further will make things even worse than that.

    For starters, let’s think about why college is so expensive in the first place. Wages have been stagnant for decades, meanwhile the cost of college has increased exponentially in that same time frame. The same can be said for other basic goods, and even houses, which have become significantly harder to buy for young people.

    Is the solution to make housing free? Obviously not.

    College has seen a growth in cost unlike other goods, and the reason for that is government-subsidized tuition.

    The way things used to work was, if you could afford college, you went. A 2 year or 4 year degree from any college made you a cream-of-the-crop candidate for potential employers. In other words, the ‘ceiling’ for high level employees was college, and the norm was a high school diploma.

    Over time, the government began giving massive amounts of financial aid to students who could not afford college. The result was that the average cost of college for everyone increased, and the need for government loans increased, and so on and so forth.

    Now, the paradigm has shifted upwards, with college becoming the norm, and graduate school or law school becoming ‘the ceiling.’ The overabundance of college diplomas on the job market has diminished their value, and for that reason, people are starting to believe that it should be free.

    The writer of this article does, thankfully, call attention to the role automation plays in all of this. Young people have undoubtedly been screwed over by the boomers and automation is set to displace many more workers.

    Andrew Yang was the only Democrat to talk about this issue, and it’s really thanks to him that we are seeing it discussed in the mainstream.

  6. College tuition in the United States has become astronomically high, most students attend college on loans simply because it is the only way they can afford it. However, this presents a big problem similar to the housing crisis back in 2008. The housing crisis was caused by people not being able to pay back housing loans, which banks handed out like candy. Now similarly, students are taking out loans to pay for colleges and banks are just handing them out like nothing again. Unfortunately, most of the time, if someone wants a high paying job, which who doesn’t, they usually need a bachelor’s degree and with the prices where they are at now, most students need loans. College being free would provide a big opportunity for people to better their lives without going broke or being in debt, however, anything worth doing has a price.
    Free or not, college will never prepare a student for work. The only thing that prepares a student for work is work itself. There is only so much which can be taught in a classroom, getting the student to apply what is learned and a apply it well is the trick. This is why employers look for a student who has had an internship or co-op, it shows that the student has experience. A blended pathway or dual education model is a good balance between school and experience. In addition to applying what is learned in the classroom to work, students receive credit for doing so. However, as stated in the article, “The college-for-all approach assumes that skills can only be taught in the classroom.” Meaning that not all jobs require a college degree, such as selling securities, real estate, etc. Making college free will not change the fact that experience is still key to working.

  7. “Free college” except nothing is free and the money is just going to come out in more taxes. MORE taxes. Not necessarily a popular idea, especially when college is not a necessity. Many people might disagree with that stance, understandable too. Society pushes college so hard upon young people, but it is not necessary in any way. If we go with this idea (if you disagree, just sit tight), then why would everyone want to pay toward free college for people when they or their children may not even go? Is that really fair and equal?
    College is expensive. That is no surprise to anyone, but there are ways to make it work. I, as a student at Seton Hall University, have many loans in order to pay for my education. This is a debt that I will have to pay off later in life. I agreed to that and accept that as an investment in my future. Am I necessarily happy that I will be entering my young adult life with a mountain of student debt? Absolutely not, but I chose that. I did not have to choose that, but I did.
    Free college as an idea is Utopian. As much as I would love to live in a Utopian world, I know it is not valid or logical. There is no way free college can exist without significant push back from people on all sides of the political spectrum. If it is to exist, it is going to take significant contribution from citizens and government together, which is not something easy or in my opinion worthwhile.

  8. Having the privilege of free colleges for Americans is just a start to their future career life. I do believe the title of the article that free college won’t be enough to prepare Americans for the future of work. I believe that once you enroll in a college that when your real-life experience began. That is when a person realizes that college is way more than what people assumed it will be. What prepares a person for the future of work is academic involvement like internships. An internship is a real-life scenario of what their future career will involve. A student gets an understanding in the end and out of the career they would like to have in the future. This could benefit a student because an internship could show a student if this is what they want to do in the future. Another thing that can prepare Americans for future work is a college community. A college community is filled with many diverse students, and their future job will possibly be diverse too. This can help a student gain the common knowledge of those cultures to take with them to their jobs. This can benefit a person because, in the workforce, they will most likely meet different people from them. But knowing this from college could change the way that person acts around that person.
    To have free colleges is a great privilege to anyone. Being a college student who pays the high tuition prices it is very hard. College is a room filled with many opportunities; it just takes that person to put in the effort. In the article, it states the 2020 candidates are missing an opportunity to reach voters in America. I do agree with that because besides the point of free colleges which we hear about all the time. What else can these candidates bring to the table that is not about college, but other work experience that can benefit them in having a high paying job? Not everyone needs going to college to get paid well, and college is not for everyone. So, what can these 2020 candidates do remove the thought that people must start over and return to college to get a quality job?

  9. As a current college student who will soon enter the work force while using my degree, seeing “free college” on the campaign trails, it really sparks my interest. The title of this article alone is what drew me to read this, because it is important for the future of our students who are looking where to turn next in their life. In all honesty, I do not follow the presidential debate as I should, but when words like “free college” are thrown around, it grabs my attention. Within this article, I find it increasingly interesting, because I was never the “academic pathway” student. I have always worked, and now having children, which ended up with me putting school on the “back burner” for a little. Like it was mentioned in the article, for students who are looking to get back into education after having to take some time off, it is extremely hard financially to be able to do so. Speaking from experience, I found that it was harder to return back to school then it was to initially register, because with different sets of responsibilities that I did not have before, it was not a question whether supporting my children or paying for school when faced with the issue.
    With students who are solely going through school and just getting that classroom based learning and not the actual technical part of things, it brings up many questions for me. We wonder why many graduates find themselves jobless or not using their degrees post graduation, but when students are expected to just be students, its hard to gain the on site experience that is needed.
    One point that I find extremely interesting to me is the fact that the college for all approach cannot meet the diverse talent needs. Technology is constantly changing, and with the “academic pathway” that is just strictly for students that are only in the classroom setting, they lack the skills that they could have potentially learned on the job. While the fact of “college for all” sounds fine and dandy, I know many people who are successful without college degrees. Often times, I find that college is pushed on high school students when they are trying to figure out their lives, but there is not much of the technical trades that are brought to light, when in reality, they are just as beneficial, if not more, than a college degree.

  10. This article relates much to the other article on the blog about the age of presidential candidates. It is refreshing to see younger candidates such as Andrew Yang, who understands the older age bracket while centralizing his focus on millennials, and the future of work and the economy. The article mentions how these older candidates have been quiet about the future of work, this is because they honestly could not care less. These older politicians have never had to worry about equality in the workforce, because college was not necessary when they were our age. Now, college is most certainly a necessity and not a luxury in our generation. Unfortunately, not everyone can afford to go to Seton Hall University, and name-drop the Stillman School of Business when applying for a job or internship. In fact, according to Forbes more than a third of American workers are in the gig economy, where a gig job is temporary; part time, contract-based, or minimum wage jobs. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development says, “The U.S. spends roughly 0.1% of its GDP on active labor market policies (such as job search assistance or job training). This is not nearly enough to provide for all Americans that need these services to find work.

    Instead of focusing on job-training and the workforce, many Democratic candidates have offered the idea of free college for all. While this may sound like a great idea to many young-adults, where does this money come from? When compared to other nations, we look like complete buffoons when it comes to our education system. The article made me think, where have I learned how to work or get a job from anywhere besides the classroom. I mean I’ve worked in a few “gig” jobs, but I have never had experience involved in my desired career. The United States is strictly classroom based, then you are expected to know how to perform your job to its full extent your first day after college graduation. I like how many more socialist countries such as Switzerland and Germany involve what is called the “blended pathway” from of education. In this format, you are getting on the job education combined with the country’s core curriculum through high school graduation. This allows those who can’t afford college to get a chance at a real career after high school graduation. This also allows those who graduate college to get the advantages of a college degree.

    The Academic pathway that America is on assumes that skills can only be acquired from a classroom. However, if you look at stores like Stop and Shop, artificial intelligence is going to take many of the low-paying jobs which Americans hold. I saw a robot cleaning the floor and alerting employees where to restock the shelves. This mad me scared for the future of technology in the workforce, many jobs will be taken from those who do not have acquired skills tough education.

  11. I believe the author correctly identifies that the core issue of the college debate is America’s overemphasis on the academic pathway. As far back as I can remember, family and teachers have stressed to me that getting a college diploma is important. The reality is that for many people college is not a viable option. Even with financial aid programs and scholarships, there are many people who simply cannot afford to get a four-year degree. Additionally, there are people whose desired career paths do not require these degrees. One of the biggest frustrations about college is that many of the required courses have minimal bearing on students’ desired career path, so it is difficult for students to put in the effort to learn the information. Not only could free college have adverse effects on the economy, it could also bring more people into the academic pathway who might not have the proper motivations for joining.
    Sustaining academic success requires hard work and a clear focus on your studies. If people choose to go to college simply because it is free and they feel obligated to go, they will not reap the full benefits of the experience. Instead, people who do not want to take the academic pathway should earn money and gain work experience from various jobs. There is also alternatives to the college experience that many people would benefit from. The practical and blended pathways provide many viable paths for people who do not want the college experience. Trade schools offer apprenticeships that provide hands on experience for a certain trade. They also cost far less than college tuition, and many of the trades you can learn offer higher paying jobs than some degrees.
    Although it might take more effort than just making college free, the United States should focus on establishing a qualifications framework. Another reason people feel the need to get a degree is because they fear they will not get a job without a diploma. This framework would allow people with only work experience to prove their competency in a specific field. This would incentive more people to work, instead of trying to survive through college, and leave college for the people with the means and the desire to attend.

  12. I am convinced that acquiring a good education is extremely important, however, the way you acquire it is in my opinion less important. I don’t think that you need a college degree to become successful. I believe that the most important ingredients you need are your network, your motivation, and your perseverance. If someone is motivated and interested, he or she can decide to go ahead and learn something new. Yes, you can learn something in college, but you can also learn something by, for instance, taking an online class on an eLearning website such as Udemy or Khan Academy. Depending on people motivation, I believe that some eLearning course completions can be worth more than a college degree. For example, who will most likely become successful? Joe who just graduated and got a college degree in marketing but that made someone else do his homework or Alicia who intensively and attentively took marketing classes on eLearning websites and received a certification for each class? Personally, I am convinced that a motivated person will be more successful than an unmotivated person that goes through the motions.
    So, I don’t think we should make college free for everyone since that would decrease the competition between colleges, and as a result also decrease the way they innovate their classes and college. In addition, as described above, it is not because people attend college that they will certainly succeed better than someone who does not attend college. Thus, instead of making college free, we should make it affordable for people that are motivated, that have eager to learn. The US could financially help people with a lower income to attend college. In other words, the cost of your child attending college should be adapted depending on your income. However, I think that a student should show his or her motivation, otherwise the US would be wasting money.
    I am really confused why the U.S. didn’t pursue the vocational pathway as a counterbalance to college prep. Of course, the intention of a vocational pathway is not to track low-income students and students of color into lower-wage occupations. However, when these critics came out, we should have tried to redirect the program into the right direction instead of just cutting back alternative pathways. Students should be surrounded by people that direct them, people that believe in them, and people that teach them. Clearly, forcing students to find their own way into the labor market doesn’t help. We could eventually assign mentors to students, that show them alternatives of college, and that help them discover what they are good at and what they want to do, and finally, guide them towards doing that with their financial ability.
    In addition, the United States should create ways for everyone to be up to date with the upcoming technology and with understanding what he or she must do to redirect his or her skill or to learn something new in order to be able to maintain his or her job. Nowadays, technology is advancing really fast and the U.S. should prepare its workforce for these changing times. I think that the U.S. should force companies to give their employees some time to acquire new knowledge so that these employees can stay up to date instead of getting replaced by someone new.
    I know that this is an extremely difficult topic. Everyone has a different opinion, and a different idea on how to solve this issue. I think that this issue affects everyone in the society. Therefore, everyone should try to work together to make it work. People should show motivation to learn, colleges and other alternative pathways should ensure that they prepare students in the best possible ways, companies should ensure that their employees can keep up with the new technologies or ways of doing business, and finally the government should help everyone to make it work by deciding on some rules that will and motivate students to learn, motivate companies to train their employees, motivate colleges and other to teach. I am really excited to see how this problem will be approached in the future! I hope that my ideas will help!

  13. The article ropes into its argument very interesting statistics regarding college degrees and working, such as how 69% of Americans twenty-five years and older have less than a bachelor’s degree. Currently, as outlined in the article, the traditional college approach does not seem to be working for everybody. The opportunity to explore alternative paths should be greatly encouraged in place of a “free college tuition” model that is proposed by several presidential candidates. One pathway that is discussed, and in my opinion, one of the best options moving forward is that of national professional certification exams. Implementing this measure would not take massive amounts of work in comparison to the large undertaking that is “free college.” Rather, it would be fairly simple to implement a test that workers can take for a fee in order to demonstrate a competency in a field rather than possession of a college degree. Not only would this give people an alternative to college, but it would allow people to continue working rather than having to put their lives on hold to pursue college, as this is not financially possible for a lot of people in the workforce. The ever-increasing cost of college has taken higher education off the table for a lot of families, as universities continue to charge tuition at rates that are increasingly difficult to afford. This new college path of national certifications as an alternative to college would allow people coming out of high school or switching careers to begin working immediately in a job similar to that of an apprenticeship in order to not only make money, but gain the necessary experience to launch a full-blown career in that field.

    Something that also needs to be addressed is that a traditional four-year college education should not be pushed onto every student coming out of high school. The last several years have seen a great change in the labor force in America as more people are “expected” to go to college. This has created a severe shortage in vital industries across the country, such as plumbers and electricians. To attempt to compensate for these losses, trade schools now offer programs of shorter duration and guarantees of high salaries upon graduation in an attempt to reel students back into those career sectors. If this trend is to continue, it would have a very negative impact on our economy for these services. The fewer people attending these trade schools results in fewer industry professionals, which in turn will cause price increases for the services that many of us take for granted today. Although accessible college for all is very important in a modern context, the encouragement of trade schools and related careers should be greatly enhanced as yet another option for students out of high school.

  14. This article takes a look at the idea of free college for all that a few Democratic candidates have proposed as part of their policies. The article argues that it is not as simple as we may think it is because the workforce is so diverse with many different needs. This is a topic I have not looked into much, but I think this article brings up arguments that need to be discussed for the future of our educational system to grow and get better to fit the needs of people. The author brings up a point about college not being the right fit for everyone. Studies have found that over the majority of people who start college do not finish which means it is not the correct path for everyone which means free college is not the correct solution for the problem. The opportunity cost to go to school is too high for many even if school was free because they need to work full time in order to support themselves and possibly others. Furthermore college is becoming the only way that looks qualified even though in other countries there are exams people can take to get qualifications that are valid through non-academic pathways. Basically in the US it is looked as though if you do not have a degree you are severely behind. Some employers feel like on the job training is more useful than a degree in some situations to an extent because college does not teach specific skills.
    The issue of tracking was an interesting topic that I never knew about. The article explains that kids are tracked into certain pathways and it income level and race seem to be determinants for which path a kid takes or past educational history which does not allow for a choice to be made by the student. I think this a huge downfall in the American education system that need to be addressed because once a kid starts on a certain pathway the way our system is set up makes it hard for someone to change directions which I think is a scary thought that is being made very early. I think the main point of the article is that free college is a solution to a different problem and not actually the problem that the American people are facing rather the problem is much more nuanced.

  15. This article is very interesting. For most of the last decade free college has been a huge topic of discussion. Whether it has been about tuition forgiveness or college for all the brass of the United States has had these discussions for years now. In the article the author makes a great point about how the current methods in the United States have not really worked as we may have expected them to. The author states that the idea that academic success for all will lead to better economic opportunity is false. There are other countries around the world who have found a better way. Instead of just promoting the academic initiative there is a more blended way of doing things. The blended and practical pathways seem much more efficient and effective in growing a person’s skills. The United States should take this type of approach. By promoting an academic only lifestyle has not worked. Other ways are looked down upon in the U.S. In today’s society if someone has “just” a high school degree or went to trade school instead of college he/she is not looked at in as high regards as a college educated person. If this stigma would disappear maybe more Americans will follow the career path they truly want as opposed to doing what they feel like they have to do, college.
    When the fall came around in the fall of 2014 it was supposed to be my first semester of freshman year of college. Instead of going to college I decided to join the workforce in an attempt to see if I could find my passion without going to college. I thought this was a good idea because no one else in my family had even attempted to go to college. So I jumped from job to job to see if there was anyway to climb up a company ladder, but I found no success. So after experimenting with the workforce I decided it was time for me to go to college in the spring of 2015. I believe this path would be a good option for many people who feel like college may not be for them. In my experience taking the semester off was the best thing I could have done. I did not enjoy many things about highschool. I also do not think I was ready to go to college out of high school. After joining the workforce immediately after high school I learned the hard way that the main supported path in the United States was the way for me. If I had gone to college in the fall of 2014 who knows if I would have succeeded or failed.
    If the United States better promoted trade schools im sure there would be a number of students who would prefer that over college. Over the past 30 years or so college has become normalized as the thing a young person in the United States has to do in order to achieve success. Young people need more options because college is not the answer for everyone.

  16. The presidential debates for 2020 are coming in quickly and multiple candidates are campaigning free public college for all. This sounds great except for the fact that I will be out go college by the time anything for this bill would happen. The cost of public in state tuition sits at about $9,970, while out of state is $25,630. For students that need to work at the same time as going to school, this is a tough price point. Trying to be a full time student and a full time employee does not work very well. I have seen this done first hand, there is always some give somewhere. It is always comes that students will go to school in the morning and head straight to their job at night. This gives very little time to do the actual school work at home. No time for the hours of studying and work that it takes to pass a class.
    On the flip side, if there was a decision made to be a full time student, they would be close to $40,000 dollars in debt when getting out of school. For most people this a tough obstacle to overcome because of the years it will take to actually pay it off. When it comes to free college debate, I think it is a serious one to have. Other countries like Canada and the UK have models for free tuition for students. The high school diploma is no longer the minimum that is needed to succeed. To be successful everyone need a bachelor’s degree to get a response on an application for a job. States have local budgets in place for elementary schools and high schools. New York is the first state to have free college tuition at their public institutions. I do not think there will be a budget at the federal level any time soon for free college. This will be done at the state levels if they want to implement something like New York has.
    I think it is scary to think that a job that I went to school for might be automated when I get out of school. That happens to be the direction we are heading in this digitized world. For those jobs students usually go into a post secondary for trade school. The United States seems to be the academic pathway where it is classroom based. We go to school for 12 years to get a high school diploma, then go to college for another four years to get a bachelors. We then learn we have to pay to get credit for an internship to graduate from school. The post secondary schools for trades like plumber, electrician and nurses. Students will go into a two year program and then will be off to work. There is an associates degree at the end but the ceiling for pay is limited. The students that go for four years will end up with a slightly higher ceiling but more initial debt from school.

  17. I think that this article, while very well-researched and a very fascinating read, makes several assumptions that I disagree with. But before I dive into that, I will say that I agree that the current educational system of the academic pathway does not work and will only continue to fail as future students try to use it. The assumption that skills can only be taught in an academic classroom setting cannot be properly verified as there is not a strong enough alternative out there to compare it to. Not only that, but in my experience in talking to employment recruiters, most employers expect to have to re-teach students on the job as they did not learn enough in the classroom. So I agree with the sentiment that free college-for-all is not enough to prepare Americans for the future of the working environment.

    However, this is where my disagreements with the article come into play. The statistics that were given for how most young people under the age of 25 do not have have a Bachelor’s degree, and how most students do not finish community college, do not take into consideration other factors at play other than educational ones that might impact these rates. Additionally, the article assumes that the current college academic structure could never change along with the times and will always be running behind technology, therefore it will always be unhelpful in training workers. However, if such a large change to the system as making college free could be administered, I do not believe the college system itself will be absolutely resistant to change. Finally, the article does not touch on the social stigmas attached to returning to college after having joined the workforce. The association of “starting over” and “failure” with going back to college are going to make an impact on whether or not a worker may choose to go back. If the social norms changed over the years and it was seen as more acceptable to gain more relevant knowledge in a worker’s given field or to learn something new entirely with the incentive of it being a free thing that a worker can do, more workers may do it in the future.

    In truth, there is no way to know for certain the longterm impacts that free college would have unless it is enacted. Until we know for certain that it would be such a bad thing when it could potentially relieve millions of dollars in debt, I am not willing to condemn it so easily.

  18. The whole concept of free education is something that is definitely worth taking a look at for the future of this country. Unfortunately it will disrupt a billion dollar industry in many ways that we can see now, and if it ever happens ways that we never saw coming. It would be very beneficial to those students who suffer from not being able to go to school and having to work right away and also those who are paying off student loans until their kids go to college. However, although free college would be great, I think that their should be a price for the level of education that you are receiving. It is incredibly expensive to send your kids to school at this point int time and makes many families face very difficult decisions.
    One thing for certain that I think needs improvement is what is being taught in school all around the country. We learn about ancient history, we learn how to solve with the quadratic equation but we don’t learn life skills that we are going to need until the day we die.
    I think school should be more directed toward teaching to show how to have a high quality life and instilling the necessary skills to do so. I am going to graduate from college and High School not knowing how to pay taxes, not knowing how to pay bills, not knowing how to set up a bank account and get the correct interest rates. These are things that I am going to have to learn from my parents when I am thrown out into the real world after school ends. Mom and Dad aren’t going to be around forever to keep you on their phone plan and it is a scary thing that many young people in this country don’t know how to do simple life tasks.
    Some more information that I believe should be taught in school is practical life skills, such as speaking with people and how to take care of yourself as a person with physical and mental health. The education system teaches you so much as you go through it but a lot of the information is tuff that we will never need as soon as we leave it.

  19. I found this article to be very interesting and informative in its argument that free college is not as great as it sounds. One of the main arguments of this article is that our education system does not prepare students for work. That article lists statistics that, “the U.S spends roughly 0.1% of its GDP on active labor market policies.” This shows how the U.S focuses more on its classroom-based education than actual job training. I believe that it should be reversed, as I have gained more experience actually doing a job then reading and studying about it. Students will only truly learn how to do their job by actual training, not just learning about it in a classroom. While many colleges do solely classroom based education there are still many colleges, including Rider that offer programs for a blended classroom and on the job education.
    Free college does have the possibility to allow students to not have to rely on student loans to get their education. Tuition costs are rising higher every year and it has become very unrealistic to cover them without a loan. Even after graduating and hopefully securing a job, the student loan looms over them for many years after. However, free college offers an alternative to being forced to take a loan for an education. I am anxious to see if free college will make it past the proposal stages and what impact it will have on our education system.

  20. For many elections, the topic of free college has been talked about it and it’s really important to do that. The presidential candidates talk about this and get so many votes because thousands of students want that. Many students are dying in loans and paying it off which is crazy. So when candidates talk about free college so many of the students voters vote for that candidate. And this is a easy way to get this. And I personally feel like this will help so many students. I for example pay a lot of money for college and I didn’t think that I would have loans to pay off after. And just thinking about paying it off after is crazy for me to think because it affects a person a lot. Students have to work so hard to get one jobs and that too isn’t for sure. Many students who graduate end up not having a job after which is not a good thing because you would have many loans to pay off. Colleges nowadays just increase the tuition because they can and they know that the students have to pay it because there is no way around it. And when you think about it, 10 years back college tuitions were not this high and it was reasonable. When candidates talk about free tuition it gives me hope that my kids don’t have to go through what I did and always have to be scared about paying off loans. I think that students should not have to worry about loans and should be worried about studying instead.

  21. As a college student who pays thousands of dollars every year towards tuition, being able to go to college for free with no consequences would be awesome. Unfortunately, as appealing as the concept sounds, the policy itself would not be beneficial at all for society. It takes millions of dollars a year to operate a college and if the university is not receiving this money from the students, it has to come from somewhere. In order for public universities and two year schools to be free of tuition, state taxes would have to significantly increase. This would hurt the economy as a whole, especially the middle class. The concept “There is no such thing as free lunch” applies directly to the conversation directly. If the students are not providing the money necessary to fund a university, it is going to come out of the pockets of taxpayers.
    Along with shutting down the “free college” idea, this article discusses how to learn from other countries when it comes how to design college to best prepare students for the real world. A major part of the article is different pathways colleges can take to educate students. The academic pathway, which is the main pathway used in the United States, focuses on theoretical learning and analytical skills. The practical pathway, which the U.S. calls “workforce” training, is learning applied skills while working in various fields, such as health care and banking. The blended pathway, which is very popular in countries such as Switzerland and Germany, combines the academic and practical pathways by requiring both on-the-job training and classroom training. To go along with these pathways, there are qualification frameworks, like the International Standard Classification of Education, that establish equivalency in learning outcomes and competency levels across different pathways. I think America should look into to moving towards the blended pathway in order to better prepare students for the real world.

  22. Education has always been a focal point of political debates and is often used as a tool to attract college students. When said out loud, “free college” sounds very appealing and our society has a strong inclination to think of free as being actually “free”; however, free college isn’t actually free, but candidates love to tell you that it could be. Democratic candidates in particular look at most economic issues in the short run. This mindset does not exclude college and how to pay for the free education of potentially millions of new students. Since they would like the government to pay for it, that means that every tax paying citizen in the United States would be paying for it. Regardless if you’re in college or not you will be paying for it for the rest of your life.

    Workers who get displaced by the constant stream of automation and the need for higher skill sets would still be paying for college. Minimum wage workers who struggle to put food on the table and have to pay their taxes, would be paying for college for kids who will likely be the ones to take their job. There is also the issue of how to regulate who would be allowed to take advantage of “free” college. Could minimum wage workers who were unable to attend college due to a lack of funds at the time, would they be able to go back for free? This question creates a lot of issues because if free college became available for all ages that would mean a substantial increase in attendees and henceforth an increase in the amount of money needed to pay for it.

    In conclusion, college degrees are highly valued because not as many people are able to acquire them. Whether or not that is because of less people being able to afford college or because the students were not academically able doesn’t matter. The difficulty to gain a college degree is partly what makes them so valuable. Most employers would choose to hire a person with a college degree over someone who only has their high school degree. The problem arises when you put in place free college and allow anybody to attend and get a degree. The industries would become inflated and as a result, a college degree would not be as valuable as it is now.

  23. Annelies Goger’s article ” Free College won’t be enough to prepare Americans for the Future of work” discusses the economic issues that could potentially arise from ” Free Tuition”. This concept has been a main point of debate throughout many political debates, as some are proposing the idea of free tuition for public and two year universities. At first, this may seem like the reform the U.S needs in the job market; he goes on to describe how it ultimately may not benefit the country the way people are promoting it. Groger’s arguments validly express how the simple offer of providing free tuition to public universities is not sufficient enough to transform American communities.

    The data he produces shows that almost 70% of American adults have less than a bachelor’s degree, and to follow up with that, 75% of community college students do not finish within 8 years. It can be argued that these numbers are a direct cause of college being too expensive to begin with. While this may be true to the extent of some individuals, many people find the cost of school to be an incentive to finish. If that were the case and free education was provided to every potential student in the population, it’s possible that the outcome would be a significant amount of people abusing this advantage and leaving school due to the fact it is free and without the motivation of it costing them. For many, the price of college is motivation enough to finish so that their higher paying job from the education that cost them will eventually pay off their student loans.

    Another point to keep in mind is that free education could be wrongfully offered to those who choose not to further their education because they simply don’t want to pursue that life path. Goger expresses that the ” College- for -all” theory will not apply to everyone, which reinforces the idea of offering free education and the uncertainty behind that decision, ultimately whether or not the education is coming to fruition in the job market, increased skills in the workplace, and so on. Goger also emphasizes that there are 3 pathways a person can take in reference to education and training. He believes that a person can choose to follow an academic, practical or blended pathway. Each is dedicated to a set of skills and diverse learning opportunities, not to mention their difference in mode of teaching.

  24. In the 21st century one of the biggest issues in America is the price of attending college. As time goes on, the tuition of schools become higher and higher. However, in recent news democratic candidates like Senator Bernie Sanders advocate for free college for everyone. The article titled, “Free College Won’t Be Enough to Prepare Americans For the Future of Work,” written by Anthony Goger goes on to raise issues that free college will cause.
    When reading the article, the stance does not seem to be clearly stated. The author doesn’t seem to be completely anti-free college or seem to be pro free college. An example of this is seen when Goger states things like, “Free college and College access proposals are not enough.” Goger implies that to fix the problem America has, free college is not the lone solution. Free college is not going to be the band aid that fixes everything. But in the same statement the author doesn’t bash free college either which is why I see Goger as being neutral in the argument.
    Goger also brings up a really good point that, “The college-for-all approach assumes that skills can only be taught in the classroom,” which is very true. A person can have way more skills without a degree that someone with a degree. On the other hand, having a degree opens up a great number of doors for people. Even some fast food restaurants are asking for degrees. It is not to say that you cannot get anywhere without a degree, but it is easier getting to the places you may want to be with a degree.
    Now one of the only things I have to question about the article is the title. The title again states, “Free College Won’t Be Enough to Prepare Americans For the Future of Work.” While yes this is true, one could argue that paid college would not be enough to prepare Americans for the future of work too. College in general provides the opportunity to be successful in the future, but a degree does not guarantee you success. Because college is so expensive some people who have the ability to go cannot attend. If college were free it would simply provide the people that could not afford college and are capable of being successful, a great opportunity to actually be successful.

  25. It really was not that long ago that there were free college options in the United States. Politifact recently fact-checked a Bernie Sanders claim that, “Making public colleges and universities tuition-free, that exists in countries all over the world, used to exist in the United States.” They ruled the statement “Mostly True”, as there are nine countries that offer free college, and as recently as the 1970s, some colleges and universities in the United States offered free (or incredibly low-priced) college. They note, however, that unlike the European countries (like Germany) that offer tuition-free college, the United States did not have a national policy on tuition.
    I have been in support of tuition-free college in some form for quite some time, and I say that as someone who has already paid tens of thousands of dollars in educational loans, and who is currently enrolled at a university that is, decidedly, not tuition-free.
    My opinion on the matter is that the country would only benefit from having a more highly educated populace. I realize that this is an opinion that can veer into the “elitist” territory, as Annelies Goger mentions in this article, but it ought not be.
    Simply stating that a more educated citizenry and judging those who have not achieved higher education are two very different, and mutually exclusive things. In my estimation, more education – especially as we grow older – serves to benefit work, decision-making, and rounds out a person. Now, I’m speaking from the perspective of someone who enjoys learning – but that enjoyment is something that has grown substantially in the years since my first trek through academia (taking the traditional K-12 then straight-to-college route). Not everyone will share this same desire to learn, but I believe strongly that there is a heightened level of thinking and discourse that can result from learning more than what comes with solely a K-12 education.
    That being said, this article went a long way into evolving my thinking. When I first saw the headline, I was skeptical, with the assumption that it was going to run along the lines of explaining how the exercise of providing free college is economically untenable, and that the job market simply couldn’t support a huge influx of college-educated workers.
    Instead, Goger really makes terrific points about what gets left behind, or falls through the gaps, in the rhetoric of providing free college. Now, I am not fully familiar with each candidate’s plan regarding tuition-free college, but I cannot help but think that she makes an assumption that the plans would completely ignore some of the areas she mentions (like vocational education, on-the-job training, etc.).
    I feel like the move away from vocational education in the United States has also been due to a stigma attached to the blue-collar folks that work with their hands. Most people do not set their career goal sights on becoming a master plumber, despite the fact that the average salary for master plumbers in the United States is $62,000. Moreover, whether it’s plumbing, or HVAC, or stonework, metalwork, electrical work, these are jobs that fulfill specific and very important societal needs. Add to that the fact that many of these vocations are tied to union jobs, and you are looking at what can be a career that is physically demanding, but rewarding and perfectly suitable for making a living.
    So, I agree with Goger’s assertion that, while the focus of tuition-free college is a very worthwhile one, we need to also consider other pathways to career paths. Allocate the money for the college, but also to vocational and technical schools, and make our system less solely dependent on the Academic pathway, and integrate it with the other pathways (Blended, Practical), so that people are not only getting their education at a lower cost, but also on-the-job training, and being able to better apply work/life experiences (that is, give them more extrinsic value), and I think that makes for a more mobile, educated, and better working society.

  26. “Free college” has been talked about for years now, and the idea of free college can actually be terrifying for America’s future. I come from a country where free college is guaranteed but it may be the worst decision the country ever made with no way back. The country I am referring to is Slovakia. Slovakia is a very small country with only a population of approximately 5 million. Free college makes it difficult for a country that size because there is a higher percentage of students that decide to attend college compared to jobs available once they graduate. This makes it hard for the students to want to stay within the country’s border for work and decide to leave. The education system in Slovakia is a lot like the practical pathway. The students are administered standard education up to 8th grade. They then move to high schools that are directed toward the job they are interested in. I find this a problem because at fourteen or fifteen years old I did not know specifically what I wanted to do in life. Once the students choose a career path for themselves going into high school it is almost impossible to change their career path once they are adults and I will tell you why. The students are then stuck in the career they choose at fourteen years old because the colleges there are also directed toward only one career. For example, (I will use common colleges in New Jersey to make this example) TCNJ would only be a business school no other major, Rowan would be only a medical school, Rider would only be a science school and etc. Therefore, if a student did not go to a high school that specializes in the college they want to attend, the college would not accept them. However, there are some benefits from the practical pathway education. For example, in Slovakia a person could not work at a pharmacy unless they are educated as a pharmacist or a pharmacist assistant. My cousin is in high school for pharmaceutical and if she does not decide to go to college she could work as a pharmacist assistant and make a decent salary. If someone in Slovakia decides they want to be a doctor they would receive their basic training and certificates in high school and be a nurse or they could continue schooling by going to college and becoming a doctor. So, by having practical pathway education, a person could receive their basic knowledge of the job they would like and can go straight to work. However, overall the cons outweigh the pros and therefore, I am not a supporter of practical pathway education.

    To go back to the subject of free college, it does not benefit every country. The country would have to set up a blueprint of doing it right. It would be harder for people to get a job and a Bachelor’s Degree will mean nothing. Most people are capable of achieving a Bachelor’s Degree and therefore if free college was passed many people would jump at the opportunity of a Bachelor’s Degree, as many students do in Slovakia. It is not until one has a Master’s or PHd until it is significant there. On top of that, a society needs people that will do other jobs. If everyone is going to college who is going to work at your local grocery store, or lower tier jobs such as garbage man? I know that many people love the idea of free college, and trust me I would too. I would love to not have student loans, but it is just not practical, especially in our society. In addition, many jobs are being replaced by technology and robots as the article mentions in the beginning. Jobs that are normally done by people are not being replaced with robots. This is not helping expand job availability. If people were given free college and more people would attend college then just with that it would be more difficult to find a job, not to add technology into the mix. There are now self-checkout in almost every general store, such as Walmart, Target, Acme and etc. The self- checkout is taking away from a person’s job. More people would be hired or on shift if there was not a self-checkout option but people choose to go to self-checkout because it is more convenient for them. There are a lot of benefits to the technology that we have now in 2020 but it has come to the point where the technology is taking over our jobs, which is not okay. I think the author did an excellent job in explaining different educational pathways and the difference in education throughout countries. I understand that there are people that are not meant to go to college, which is fine, and even with free college they would choose to not attend but it is guaranteed that the majority of people would attend. It is already difficult to find a job straight out of college and to have additional graduates in the mix would make it almost impossible.

  27. I believe that as the integration of technology into every facet of life continues to grow exponentially, the effectiveness of the current higher education system will begin to fault. Higher education, as it stands, generally prepares students with the knowledge of core information, like writing skills, basic math skills, and a general knowledge of science; along with their focused studies on one particular profession. As the need for more widespread knowledge, and fast changing technology, the skills learned in college soon will not be enough to survive in the workforce. College is not the only path to a career, but it is a more direct path into a career that is chosen. A major in accounting is only good for a job in business, the landscape of employment is changing though, technology is changing the very foundation of how jobs are being done. College can not possibly prepare students for what is yet to come, if we have portable hologram emitters in our pockets in twenty years, my education at Seton Hall will be of no use in learning how my hologram emitter works. The future of skills training needs to be separated from higher education; employers need to invest in skills training. College prepares young adults to enter the workforce, but after getting that dream job, what happens in five or ten years when a new program comes out completely revamps how a job is done? College is useless at that point, four years spent getting a degree just for it to become obsolete in ten years will soon become a major concern. College for all would have been a fantastic program for the US to have up until now. There are many more opportunities for a person to teach themselves a useful skill, especially in technology, than there ever was in recent history. There are kids that know more about technology now than a computer engineer with a degree from 1980.

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