Higher Ed Headache: Universities Under Fire for Skyrocketing Costs

Television host Mike Rowe recently spoke out with criticism against American universities.

Harvard Under Fire

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Tada Images

Harvard University has come under fire over the past few months due to scathing accusations of antisemitism, plagiarism, and a host of other transgressions.

Claudine Gay, Harvard’s first Black president, resigned after a historically short six months—the shortest presidency in the prestigious university’s history.

Mike Rowe’s Expert Opinion

Image Credit: Shutterstock / wellphoto

Mike Rowe, who has long been outspoken about his feelings surrounding universities, spoke on the issue, saying that Harvard graduates now feel shame instead of pride about their degrees.

“They’re Shameful”

Image Credit: Shutterstock / wellphoto

“What is happening? Donations are drying up, graduates are taking their degrees off their wall because they no longer resonate with pride – they’re shameful,” Rowe said.

Studies Show Alarming Results

Image Credit: Shutterstock / PanuShot

Rowe’s pessimistic outlook isn’t unfounded, but it is based on figures from recent studies.

While many Americans do still feel that Ivy Leagues should be respected for their prestige, universities in general may be falling out of style with some people.

Student Enrollment Down

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Victoria Labadie

Student enrollment for nationwide undergraduate programs has significantly decreased, and more Americans now consider college less important to their future than ever. 

Fewer Americans Value College Educations

Image Credit: Shutterstock / THICHA SATAPITANON

A 2023 survey by Gallup found that about one-third of Americans trusted higher education to contribute to a person’s success. Less than a decade ago, over half of the country felt that way.

An Alternative to Higher Education

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Nirat.pix

Mike Rowe went on to give advice to young people who have become disillusioned by the idea that college leads to the American Dream. According to Rowe, there’s a better way.

Rowe Clarifies Harvard Comments

speak, public, podium, speaker, speech, stage, conference, man, debate, up, close, presentation, politician, businessman, spokesman, business, talk, person, executive, lecture, campaign, male, confident, gesture, paper, leadership, corporate, entrepreneur, profession, seminar, businessmen, professional, document, flipchart, indoors, looking, mature, read, report, standing
Image Credit: Shutterstock / Sergey Nivens

First of all, the Dirty Jobs host wanted to be clear that he wasn’t suggesting that graduates should be embarrassed by their degrees. 

“Something Really Interesting Has Happened”

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Microgen

“I’m not saying there’s anything inherently shameful about [it]…from a PR standpoint, something really interesting has happened,” Rowe said.

Has College Lost Its Value?

Image Credit: Shutterstock / PeopleImages.com – Yuri A

In a culture that has commodified the college education, Rowe thinks there’s something to be said for why so many people in the country have turned away from the idea that a four-year degree is necessary for success.

Students as Customers

Image Credit: Shutterstock / dee karen

Rowe believes that universities treat students like a customer base from which to profit. And it’s working – tuition rates are higher than ever, and for-profit universities are making a killing.

Rowe Criticizes NYU’s Pandemic-Era Tuition Hike

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Girts Ragelis

“New York University raised its tuition during Zoom classes,” Rowe said, remarking on the school’s audacity to raise tuition during the COVID-19 pandemic. At the time, students were not even attending courses in person on campus.

“How Much Further Will It Go?”

Image Credit: Shutterstock / aerogondo2

“At some point, you’ve got to look at the people who are paying the bills. It’s almost like they’re being dared, right? It’s like, how much further will it go?” Rowe asked.

Rising Costs of Education

Image Credit: Shutterstock / zimmytws

The cost of attending a four-year college has increased astronomically in the past couple of decades. Today, it costs, on average, about $36,000 per year to attend a university, a more than 100% increase since 2000.

The Alternative: Trades

Image Credit: Shutterstock / DavideAngelini

Rowe advises young people to consider skipping the costly and sometimes unattainable education offered by universities and instead pursue a trade.

Rowe’s Scholarships for Trade Schools

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Monkey Business Images

“In my little tiny world, we offer work ethic scholarships for kids who want to learn a skill that’s in demand,” Rowe said.

“The foundation’s never been more robust. We’re giving away another million dollars at the end of the month for these kinds of scholarships.”

Trades Often Pay Better than White Collar Jobs

Image Credit: Shutterstock / il21

Rowe’s push to get more people interested in the trades is a passionate one. Like the occupations featured on Dirty Jobs, many trades are considered to be undesirable – but skilled workers are highly sought after and often very well compensated.

“There’s a Path to Six Figures and it’s Shorter Than You Think”

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Aleksandar Malivuk

“Welders, steamfitters, pipe fitters, heating, air conditioning, electric – our country is built on these things. Whether they’re sexy or not, the opportunities exist. There’s a path to six figures and it’s shorter than you think,” Rowe said.

Tradespeople Earn More In Less Time

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Andrey_Popov

Many entering the workforce find the idea of earning six figures attractive, especially if it’s doable without the expense of college or the burden of student loan debt.

Research shows that skilled tradespeople out-earn graduates in many cases.

College Vs. Trade School

Image Credit: Shutterstock / nelen

While a college education is still a necessity for many careers, Rowe wants people to consider trades as an alternative path to success.

The post Higher Ed Headache: Universities Under Fire for Skyrocketing Costs first appeared on Thrift My Life.

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Marcio Jose Bastos Silva.

The content of this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute or replace professional financial advice.