A Working Paper from the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii

Cannon Brooke

From the Introduction:

The time has come for parents to think about their children’s future plans and decide if the university system is a viable option. This fall, roughly 2.6 million students will enroll in some form of higher education.[1] It has long been a part of the American dream to walk into the Ivory Towers and continue onto post-secondary education. However, this American dream can turn into an American nightmare for parents that are unprepared. When the time approaches to decide about possibly sending your child to college, a sputtering economy along with skyrocketing tuition might have you asking if it is worth it.

This paper explores alternative options to a post-secondary education, as well as considers attending a university. Particularly, this paper focuses on how to think strategically about the college option and calls for a proper cost-benefit analysis from parents and their children. There are many viable options to the university system that need to be exhumed so both parents and their child know they made the correct choice. While much attention and consideration is given to the college experience, other options such as: vocational schools, internships, volunteering, apprenticeships, community college and working after high school are sensible alternatives.

Many parents plan on sending their children to college as soon as they graduate high school even though the price of tuition and fees has increased at an astronomical rate of nearly four times the consumer price index (CPI), even outpacing healthcare (see figure I).[2] Unfortunately, many students enter the universities poorly prepared for academia and end up wasting valuable time and money. This problem illuminates the need for parents to exert more leadership and take a proactive role in their children’s educational future.

1 “Digest of Education Statistics,” Institute of Education Sciences, 2009.

2 Vicki E. Murray, “10 Questions State Legislators Should Ask About Higher Education,” American Legislative Exchange Council, 2011.

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