Free pass to a broken higher education system

To say education is not well would be a severe understatement (Illustration by Anibal Santos)

The price of college continues skyrocketing upwards to astronomical levels. As the cost becomes more unaffordable, ideas are beginning to be proposed to prevent that. Out of all the ideas so far, the most notable idea has been put forth by President Obama and his administration. Their bold solution: make community college tuition free.

On paper that sounds like a good idea. Education is a necessity to maintaining a healthy society. It’s a step in the right direction and a there is merit with it. Sadly, it’s not a complete solution.

To put it bluntly, the plan is about as smart as giving people a free pass to ride on a broken roller coaster. Higher education is unbalanced, outdated and is in desperate need of fixing.

It’s difficult to know where to start. The list of problems would rival the length of a dictionary. The easiest place to start is examining the numerous rules and regulations that govern it.

In California for instance, the college system relies on a Master Plan that’s remained largely unchanged since implemented in the 1960s. Though revolutionary at the time, the plan has caused problems due to much of its now archaic and unfair regulations.

The plan, for example, is why inexpensive colleges, such as Saddleback College, cannot give out degrees higher than an associate degree. More expensive universities such as USC can. People must pay through the teeth to get at least a bachelor’s degree.

Total student debt in America is now approximately $1.2 trillion dollars, according to a report by CNN. That far exceeds the combined credit card debt. Average student debt is at least $30,000 in some states and  fast approaches that mark in others according to a November 2014 report by U.S. News.

Both former and current students are finding it a Herculean task to pay off those debts quickly. According to a 2014 report by ThinkProgress, approximately half a million college graduates are working minimum wage jobs. Those careers often have no relevance to the majors they’ve spent years at school to master. Worse still is that many of those jobs require just a basic high school education.

The list goes on and such failures have not gone unnoticed by the public. They’re a big reason many have and continue to lose their trust in the higher education system. According to the 46th annual PDK/Gallup poll, only an approximate 44 percent of Americans now believe going to college is important. That percentage went down from 75 percent four years prior.

Making higher education free in any form is like putting a Band-Aid on a wound that needs extensive surgery. The system is broken and must be fixed as people are paying for it both literally and figuratively.  They will continue to suffer unless something more drastic is done.