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    • Decline in trust and enthusiasm for college in USAmerican perception of college has changed, with fewer parents expecting their children to attend and decreased enrollment numbers.

      There's been a significant shift in public perception and attendance of higher education institutions in the United States over the past decade. According to New York Times journalist Paul Tough, who reported on this topic for The Daily, there's been a noticeable decline in trust and enthusiasm for college among Americans. This shift is reflected in polling data, which shows that the percentage of parents who expect their children to attend college has dropped from nearly universal to about half. Additionally, college enrollment figures have decreased by over 2.5 million students since 2010. These findings indicate a fundamental change in how Americans view college, which has long been considered a cornerstone of the American dream and a pathway to financial success.

    • College wealth premium shifts for younger generationsYounger generations, particularly black and Latino families, experience little to no wealth benefit from a college degree due to escalating education costs and student debt.

      While the financial benefit of a college degree in terms of higher income (college wage premium) remains, the long-term value when factoring in the cost of education and debt (college wealth premium) has significantly shifted. For older generations, college graduates accumulated 2-3 times more wealth than high school graduates. However, for younger generations, especially for black and Latino families, the wealth benefit has disappeared. This change is largely due to increasing college costs and resulting student debt, which negatively impacts household wealth.

    • Is a college degree worth the cost?Factors like major, college type, and graduation rate influence the likelihood of earning a college wealth premium. STEM majors and public college graduates have a higher chance, while arts, humanities, or social sciences majors and private college graduates face uncertain outcomes.

      While a college degree can provide significant financial benefits, the rising costs of education and increasing uncertainty around graduation have led many to question its value. Even graduates without debt can be negatively impacted if their families had to sacrifice significant assets to pay for their education. These opportunities for wealth accumulation, such as buying a home or starting a business, are often missed. The decision to attend college and the resulting financial outcome is heavily influenced by factors like major, college type, and graduation rate. For example, students majoring in STEM fields or graduating from public colleges have a higher likelihood of earning more than a high school graduate. However, for those studying arts, humanities, or social sciences, or attending expensive private colleges, the chances of earning a college wealth premium are no better than a coin flip. Ultimately, the decision to attend college and the resulting financial impact is complex and depends on individual circumstances.

    • Perception of College Shifting from Investment to RiskEconomic outcomes are no longer the only concern in college, with cultural and political shifts also contributing to the perception of college as a risky endeavor. Millions are opting out, making it crucial to understand the reasons behind this trend.

      The perception of college has shifted from a safe investment to a risky endeavor, with economic outcomes no longer being the only concern. This change is due in part to the removal of the college wealth premium and the increasing anxiety it causes for students and their families. However, there's more to this than just economics. A cultural and political shift has also occurred, with conservatives becoming increasingly skeptical of college due to perceived hostility towards their viewpoints on campus. This shift in public opinion began around 2015 and has continued to the present day. The result is that millions of people are opting not to attend college, making it important to consider the complex reasons behind this trend.

    • Republicans perceived higher education as less economically viable and culturally welcomingPerception of higher education negatively impacting economy due to fewer college graduates if millions opt out

      During the late 2000s and early 2010s, there was a growing perception among Republicans that higher education was becoming less economically viable and culturally welcoming for them. This perception was fueled by data showing a significant liberal lean on college campuses, with students and faculty skewing left. For individual young people, this might have seemed like a reasonable reason to opt out of college. However, on a larger scale, millions of young people choosing not to attend college would be detrimental to the economy, which is projected to need millions more college graduates in the coming decade. The economy simply isn't set up to function optimally without the workforce that a large number of college graduates would provide.

    • Limited opportunities and low pay for high school graduatesThe lack of high-paying jobs for high school graduates and the high cost of college create a difficult situation for those without a degree, leaving many feeling trapped between limited opportunities and significant debt.

      While there are some good paying jobs available for those without a college degree, the opportunities for high school graduates are limited, and the median salary for most of these jobs is less than $31,000 a year. This can make it increasingly difficult for those without a college education to enter the middle class. The frustration towards higher education stems from the perception that it is an unfair and rigged system, with limited opportunities for those without the financial means to attend high-quality institutions, and a significant amount of debt for those who do attend. This situation leaves many Americans feeling trapped between the high cost of college and the limited opportunities for those without a degree. This issue is a complex one, as the decision to attend college comes with significant financial risk, while the absence of a degree can result in a lifetime of low-paying jobs. The frustration towards higher education is a result of this perceived unfairness and the limited opportunities available to those without a college education.

    • Perception of higher education as a consumer good hinders progressTo make higher education more accessible to the middle class, we need to shift the cultural perception towards viewing it as a public good and take political action.

      The growing public perception of higher education as an unaffordable and ineffective consumer good, rather than a public good, is hindering efforts to address the urgent issue of making it more accessible to the middle class. This perception, fueled by the increasing financial burden of college and political polarization, has dampened the will to find solutions. To truly address this issue, there needs to be a cultural shift in how we view higher education, recognizing it as a public good that benefits society as a whole, rather than just an individual investment. This shift, accompanied by political action, could lead to more equitable and effective solutions. The current system, where 18-year-olds receive free public education but 19-year-olds must navigate a complex and expensive higher education landscape, is an illogical and unsustainable state of affairs.

    • The need for publicly funded education beyond high schoolThe lack of publicly funded education beyond high school is an economic issue that requires a cultural shift in viewing higher education as a necessity

      The lack of publicly funded education beyond high school, which was addressed and solved a century ago during the high school movement, is now an issue once again as the economy demands more education for success. Instead of coming together to create a free public education system, young people are being left to figure out how to pay for and obtain additional education on their own. This political issue, which should be nonpartisan due to its economic implications, requires a cultural shift in viewing higher education as an economic necessity rather than an identity or ideological matter. The responsibility for solving this problem lies with both colleges and elected officials.

    • Urging the international community to stand with Ukraine against Russia's aggressionBiden and Zelensky warned that giving in to Russia's actions could embolden it to continue using force, potentially putting other nations' independence at risk. Upholding international norms and not allowing aggression to go unchecked is crucial.

      Both President Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky urged the international community to stand with Ukraine against Russia's aggression during their speeches at the United Nations General Assembly. They warned that giving in to Russia's actions could embolden it to continue using force to alter the global map, potentially putting the independence of other nations at risk. Biden asked, "If we abandon the core principles of the United States to appease an aggressor, can any member stayed in this body feel confident that they are protected?" Zelensky added that the potential fall of Ukraine could lead to empty seats in the UN, as other nations could be next. The speeches emphasized the importance of upholding international norms and not allowing aggression to go unchecked. The Daily's production team, including Michael Simon Johnson, Sommer Tomad, Carlos Prieto, Devin Taylor, Lisa Chow, Will Reed, Dan Powell, Chris Wood, Jim Rhunberg, and Van Landsberg, worked together to bring this story to listeners.

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