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Doubting College: A Podcast Series

Doubting College: A Podcast Series

Young people should finish high school, then head to college. That has long been the default thinking for many American families. But in the past decade, attitudes have taken a dramatic turn. Skepticism of higher education is at an all-time high. The number of young people who say a college degree is very important fell to 41 percent in 2019 from 74 percent in 2013. And families across many income brackets are more open to waiting on college or skipping it altogether.

While many factors have contributed to this dramatic shift, including rising college costs, there have also been concerted efforts to change the narrative to diminish the importance of college. And those narratives have caught on widely because many students have felt that higher ed has failed them, focusing too much on prestige, erecting fancy new campus buildings and conducting research rather than a core mission of improving teaching quality and producing productive citizens and workers.

But statistically, people who earn college degrees still more reliably find stable careers than people who don’t. So even if some critiques of colleges are valid, is the overall doubt about higher ed misplaced? Are viral videos arguing that “college is a scam” and messages promoted by interest groups that question the value of college dissuading some of the underrepresented students who would benefit most from earning a degree? Or are these critiques helping to push colleges to become more student-centered and make other long-needed improvements? Or both?

We’re exploring these questions in our latest podcast series, Doubting College. Through interviews with current high school students, their parents and guidance counselors, as well as an analysis of developments in the past decades that have contributed to these attitude changes, EdSurge is diving into the complex factors at work and the real stakes for students planning their lives and educators trying to prepare them for a changing world.

Check out the first five episodes below, and look for more installments in the coming weeks.

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