Education for the 99%
by UTEP Connect
At one point in our history, a degree from an Ivy League college was the symbol of higher education. Harvard, Yale, Cornell and other prestigious schools were seen as the ultimate destinations for anyone who really wanted to make something of themselves. But times have changed, and while the Ivy League still holds sway, students are more concerned with the cost and the accessibility of their education—not just the name on their diploma.
College as an engine of social mobility
Having a college education can open up opportunities for careers and employment that are typically much harder to access for people with a high school diploma. For lower income and middle class families, being able to afford skyrocketing college tuition is becoming more and more challenging. Today’s graduates are being saddled with debts that former generations didn’t have to face.
During the mid-1900s, students who came from lower income backgrounds were able to attend some city/local colleges for free or for no more than $300 a year. Today, with inflation, that same tuition would be over $2,400.
Is there a hopeful conclusion in today’s frustrating and anxiety-filled economic climate? Are there solutions for people looking to earn a college degree without sacrificing their financial future?
Local or in-state schools are often the most affordable option, as well as being a better fit for students whose families are considered in the “99%.” (This term, which gained popularity in 2011, refers to those Americans who are in the lower 99% of U.S. income distribution.)
A recent New York Times article brought to light how schools that serve students from lower income brackets not only increase these students’ social mobility, but are also able to better focus on the needs of a larger group compared to elite schools.
Getting a college degree increases your hireability, expands your skill sets, makes you eligible for higher salaries and statistically reduces your chances of being unemployed. For Americans trying to bridge the gap to a higher income, a college degree has become an essential ingredient.
Rise of the nontraditional student
Nontraditional students represent all ages and walks of life—recent high school graduates who opted to work right out of high school as opposed to continuing their education, people who have been in the workforce for several years, students returning to finish an incomplete degree and more.
These individuals face certain challenges that more traditional students don’t typically have to contend with, such as figuring out how to earn a degree without sacrificing work and family commitments or putting finances in jeopardy. Some are unable to reconcile these competing priorities and end up dropping out, meaning they pay for a degree they ultimately never earn.
How UTEP can help
UTEP has a 100-year history of providing an exceptional education for those who want it—and its suite of online programs, UTEP Connect, is an expression of that idea. Students are able to complete their studies at home or from their office without having to commute to campus and decrease time spent at work and home.
At UTEP, we are passionately committed to opening doors for our graduates and giving students the chance to better their lives through education. There has never been a better time to go back to school—let’s get started together.