Declining Enrollments May Be Best Thing For North Dakota’s University System
There are two simple truths about North Dakota’s university system that few political observers in the state seem willing to talk about.
1) North Dakota’s 11-campus, $1.2 billion university system is far too big for this state with just 670,000 residents. It would be far too large for a state with 800,000 residents, a number population is projected to hit by 2020.
2) We’re pushing far too many kids into college who a) don’t have a defined career path and b) aren’t necessarily prepared academically for college. This has resulted in a national problem, felt acutely here in North Dakota, with college students running up huge sums of debt to obtain degrees that, ultimately, really aren’t worth what they paid for them.
So when I read that enrollment is declining at three of North Dakota’s university campuses – Bismarck State College, Minot State University and Dickinson State University – it makes me happy. Especially when the cause (once we account for the diploma fraud at DSU) is increased economic opportunity.
Rather than drifting into college, and massive student loans, because they have a sense that’s what you do after high school, more students are entering the real world job market. They’re getting on-the-job experience. They’re developing a work ethic. They are, hopefully, socking away some of the money they’re earning for their future which, perhaps one day, might include a college education.
This is a positive development. These kids are avoiding the higher education trap. Which isn’t to say that higher education is entirely worthless, or that these kids shouldn’t one day avail themselves of some college experience. Rather, these kids are bucking conventional wisdom (espoused by college admissions bureaucrats around the country) that high school students must enter college immediately or be doomed to a life of digging ditches or flipping burgers.
What that “conventional wisdom” has led to is a higher education bubble where higher education costs, and student loan debt, have gone through the roof while the value of a degree has declined.
Here’s to more kids entering the job market first, figuring out what they want to do with their lives, and then turning to college if necessary to get the training they need to pursue their goals.Tags: bismarck state college, dickinson state university, higher education, higher education bubble, minot state university, North Dakota News