Higher education retains an implicit trust and faith in culture, especially in America. Higher education remains to be the support of knowledge and the concept of learning, and still provides the key to a good future. In many instances past, colleges and universities have dealt with challenges and issues, shared by their students. Issues come and go, and the years coming certainly have more in store for the academe. As we head into the future, there will be more issues faced by students in higher education, all interacting and affecting each other. Here are some challenges and problems faced by students in higher education now:
Issue #1: Increasing Costs
The rising cost of education is one of the primary issues higher education is facing. The cost of getting an education is often pitted against the benefits of a college degree. But as much as college education is deemed valuable, cost is often the most important factor people ponder over as they weigh university choices. According to Forbes, the problem on increased costs is augmented by the weakening field of good job opportunities. As a result, many recent graduates face unemployment and a massive amount of student debt. Though the dream of succeeding in the workplace usually entails a college degree, the capacity to afford college is becoming more and more out of reach. If the cost of higher education continues to go beyond the financial capacity of middle and working class, then the problem will percolate into other areas of higher education.
Educational institutions, however, have become aware of the issue. To augment the problem, many colleges now offer online classes, which helps cut costs as students no longer have to pay for meal plans and on-campus housing.
Issue #2: Homesickness
The issue of homesickness is one that most students go through, especially if they study hundreds of miles away from home. Foreign students go through twice as much, as they are subjected to an environment they do not quite understand yet, on top of the onset of overwhelming college duties. Despite today’s technology, students in particular still suffer from homesickness, “despite at-one’s-fingertips” availability of instant messages and video calls. According to a report by the National Union of Students, 50% to 70% of students from the UK have admitted feeling homesick in their first week of college, which is a high figure. The first week, experts say, is usually the hardest. The fresher’s week, as most colleges call it, is usually done to help students with transition. After a few days, however, the homesickness kicks in, especially since most do not have friends yet. To counter homesickness, experts reveal that students just need time to adjust. The homesickness should be welcomed so that it goes away, and the prospect of meeting new friends, joining clubs, and being distracted by schoolwork can help tremendously.
Issue #3: Time Management
As mind-boggling as it may seem, time management is another issue faced by students in higher education. Students feel as though they do not have enough hours in a day to accomplish everything they wish to do. In the higher education, time affects every student. Trailing behind time incurs severe pressure on their studies, induces anxiety, and results in even poorer time management. Truth be told, however, procrastination is time’s biggest enemy. As college students are exploring, life pulls them towards many different directions - partying, sororities and fraternities, among others, on top of other extracurricular activities. All of these distract students from devoting time to do relevant work, such as homework and studying. While college is indeed about learning more about yourself, students need to remember that the sole reason why they are in college in the first place is education. To combat procrastination, students are advised to employ strategic planning. With this implemented, there will be no need to sacrifice other activities; as long as education is not compromised, students are free to pursue as many undertakings as they wish. For instance, a bulk of their time after classes could be used in finishing pending essays and lectures to read. Sundays could be dedicated to study time. That way, there will be plenty to hang out with friends and party. Time waits for no man, and strategic planning is key.
Issue #4: Racism
Countries like the United States have universities with diverse communities. Students from all over the world are given the opportunity to get degrees from their dream schools. Apart from homesickness, there is still the reality of encountering racism inside the safety of campus. Foreign students, along with students of ethnic minorities, usually fall victim to racial slurs and insults. They are often bullied, and this applies not only to the students but campus staff. Statistics show that universities try to make amends by expelling students who exhibit racist behaviors, and many stories circulate the media. Such is the case with Harvard University, where law students were threatened with messages like “we all hate u”, “you know you don’t belong here” and “you’re just here because of affirmative action.” A report by UK’s National Union of Students also found that 1 in 6 black students face racism in their respective educational institutions. This study was conducted in 2011, where the study involved black college students that lasted 2 years. Since then, incidents have been on the rise, making racism one of the biggest issues faced by students in higher education. Many students of ethnic minorities revealed that they refuse to report these incidents due to lack of trust, as according to them, universities do not listen to their pleas. As mentioned, the students are not the only victims. Staff and lecturers also suffer from racial abuse. The issue is widespread and affects each and every victim, sometimes going as far as abandoning the pursuit of education. There is no easy solution yet to the problem, as the mere act of reporting to the authorities is difficult.
Issue #5: Growing Privatization of Public Colleges and Universities
Although most may not be aware, growing privatization of education is another issue faced by students in higher education. Data shows that state funding for colleges and universities has been decreasing since the dawn of the 21st century. For instance, the state system by the University of California has dropped to a whopping 37% from 1990. This unfortunate trend is expected to continue, and as a recourse, universities now seek funding from private sources. Some educational institutions now have converted some of their programs into their high-profit sources, such as law school and business schools. The fund is a combination of student tuition, businesses, and other private foundations like partnerships. These options have created a pattern of privatization of education, where the source of educational funding has now become private business pursuits. The current system comes at a price – they are no longer subject to the same standards of regulation. College admissions and some academic requirements, which often includes writing personal statements, no longer work according to the rest of the public state system. As private interests take over, business interests become prioritized over the common good. As we move forward, scholars and administrators alike fear that the public university system will disappear and be entirely engulfed by privatization.
On top of all these issues faced by students in the higher education, it is essential to remember that education is indispensable. If anything, the solutions may come from the pursuit of education itself. In this competitive and ever-changing world, those who miss out on higher learning often face the problem of limited opportunities. Even as educational institutions continue to confront these challenges, the decline in higher education remains to be seen. As an essential part of this country, along with the rest of the world, without education we’ll all be worse off.
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