In 2009, a lot of things affected the lives of millions of people. It was the year Barack Obama became president. The same year Michael Jackson passed away. The very year that Kanye West interrupted Taylor Swift at the VMA awards. However, it was also the year that for some, signified the end of The Great Recession.
The year was supposed to spark growth, so much that the U.S. government announced that it was establishing a plan to encourage college graduation. Michael T. Nettles wrote in his research report, Challenges and Opportunities in Achieving the National Postsecondary Degree Attainment Goals that states,
“In 2009, at the end of the 12-month Great Recession in the United States, the U.S. government established a college degree attainment goal of 60% of 25- to 34-year-olds to earn an associate’s or bachelor’s degree by the year 2020.”
While the goal was set and spirits were high, the year of 2020 is right around the corner, do the numbers match?
The year 2020 is only three months away now. Most students are in the process of registering for the spring semester and for this year’s seniors graduation is not that far away. However, the article, “10 years later, goal of getting more Americans through college is way behind schedule” Jon Marcus claims,
“It will take until at least 2056 for 60 percent of all working-age Americans — not just 25- to 34-year-olds —to have college educations of some kind,”
Marcus also states that this is due to the fact that “it’s 2019, and after federal and state budget cuts, spiraling tuition, political distraction and increasing public skepticism about the value of a higher education, the nation is far behind schedule in realizing this goal.”
So if the goal hasn’t been met, why is there an enormous amount of pressure put on students to go to college?
This pressure is due to the fact that economically the average American benefits greatly from having a college degree of some kind. In his book, “Higher Education in America” Derek Bok wrote, “In 2005, 87 percent of American adults agreed that ‘a college education has become as important as a high school diploma used to be,’ while the percentage of respondents in Public Agenda surveys who considered a college education to be ‘necessary for a person to be successful in today’s work world’ jumped from 31 percent in 2000 to 55 percent in 2009.”
Bok continued to say that the median annual income for adults that hold college degrees reached $54,000 in comparison to high school diplomas which was a total of $32,600 in 2010. Showing a difference $21,400, but Bok goes on to question whether it is it still relevant in 2019?
According to CNBC, they discuss why there are many good reasons for college graduates to be optimistic, stating that “Wages are finally beginning to budge after years of sluggish growth and recent figures from NACE indicate that employers plan to hire 16.6 percent more members of Class of 2019 than the previous year’s graduating class.” Claiming that it will be one of the biggest increases among recent graduates since the year of 2007.
Even though that’s good news for the graduating class of 2019, what is the expected salary for those students. In fact, The NACE (The National Association of Colleges and Employers has calculated that the class of 2018 had a preliminary average starting salary of around $50,004.
The United States might not have reached their goal of 60% of Americans having a college degree by 2020, but despite this year’s federal and state budget cuts, the numbers still suggested that the value and importance of education is a priority for Americans.