Springtime is here. The weather is warming. Flowers are blooming. College students are graduating. Across the nation, campuses are overflowing with cap and gown clad individuals and their proud parents. Soon enough mailboxes will also be overflowing with student loan bills for these young adults. Yet this is hardly a surprise. The debate over ballooning college costs is a continually favorite news topic, and given this period of commencement speeches and graduation parties, it has received even greater attention from the media as of late. Though the coverage at times is exhausting, the problem is very real. Students are leaving school with a mountain of debt that they may spend the rest of their lives trying to pay back. However, this burgeoning problem has also sparked a backlash of commentary regarding new ways to get an education in America.
Even Mitt Romney has chimed in his two cents on how college students can avoid getting stuck with an outrageous bill upon their college graduation. “Shop around” is his advice. It’s doubtful that Romney has ever needed to shop around for anything, let alone his own college education. A graduate of Brigham Young University and Harvard University, Romney is no stranger to expensive college costs. However, having come from a financially well-off family, he has little experience regarding student debt. Moreover, his simple advice to be selective when choosing a college hardly addresses the problem at hand. It’s not that merely a handful of colleges are raising their costs, and that by avoiding these few schools students can enroll at an affordable university. The issue is that across the country institutions are spiking their tuition prices. Students can’t avoid the unavoidable; regardless how exhaustive the search, the truth of the matter is that the majority of colleges are quickly going beyond the financial reach of most individuals.
Finding new ways to get an education is no longer a distant consideration. Yet this nationwide issue has prompted an alternate educational option for students, one that has been gaining momentum for several years: online school. Once thought of a second-rate way to get a degree, online college is quickly becoming a legitimate and affordable way for prospective students to get the education they need without being saddled with thousands of dollars of debt. Even the Ivy League schools such as Stanford and Romney’s Harvard are broadening their online reach to those seeking a college degree. While this avenue of education has yet to provide the number of majors typically offered at traditional colleges, it makes up for it in terms of flexibility and cost.
Not only are most college students paying an astronomical price for their education, but also they are prevented from earning any significant wages while attending school due to conflicting class schedules. However, online schools allow for full-time employment if desired. Online students can thus monetarily outperform their traditional school counterparts while still in college. Moreover, they won’t be obligated to pay back the high costs that also define the traditional university experience.
Though his advice does little to assuage the troubling tuition situation in our country, Mitt Romney has inadvertently highlighted what is sure to become a growing movement in the United States: finding new ways to get an education. Though not the permanent fix we need to guarantee every student a quality education, online school is quickly becoming a beacon of hope for high college education costs.