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A Wave Crests: Silicon Valley, Postsecondary Education And A Half-Trillion Dollars | TechCrunch

A Wave Crests Silicon Valley Postsecondary Education And A Half Trillion Dollars TechCrunch


It may not look like it, but it is also early days for our postsecondary education system. You might imagine that universities have been around about as long as democracy and indoor plumbing, but in fact, our higher education system has been completely redefined over the last 70 years. Around that timeframe, the proportion of high school graduates attending college went from a small minority (in 1940, only around 5 percent had completed four years of college) to a majority (65.9 percent are currently enrolled in colleges or universities). The source of college funding changed from family wealth to federal loans.

Most importantly, the goal of attending college moved from holistic education and a future in academia and research to career development and jobs. If you ask students why they’re going to college, the top five reasons include “to be able to get a better job” (No. 1), “to get training for a specific career” (No. 3), and “to be able to make more money” (No. 4).

Opinions differ as to whether the higher education system is meeting those students’ career goals and achieving those outcomes. It’s settled science that a degree raises a student’s lifetime earnings. However, only 11 percent of business leaders think college graduates have the right skills for work — compared to 96 percent of chief academic officers who believe graduates are prepared for the job market.

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