For the most part, our society sees higher education as something for which to strive. After all, knowledge is power. So, it might come as a surprise that college applications are falling and have been doing for some time. In 2010, attendance on college campuses was soaring at 21 million people. Now, there is an average of 800,000 fewer students per year who go onto higher education. Experts debate whether this is good or bad, but it is impossible to know until we answer one question. The question is: what are the reasons behind the fall?

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An obvious reason for the decline is a rise in tuition fees. Modern students can expect to pay on average $9,000 a year for the price of attending university. But, that is just for the lucky state residents as out-of-towners can expect to pay $20,000. And, if it’s a private establishment, the figure jumps to $31,000. To put this into perspective, US News reports that there has been 179% increase in tuition. With past economic failures, too many high school graduates find it hard to come up with the money.

However, it isn’t all down to money, although cash does play a part. In recent years, technology has changed the traditional college experience. Normally, a person would have to move out of state and live away from home to attend their university of choice. Of course, the cost of tuition plays a role, but so does the rise in open courses. Thanks to online schools, the number of people on campus is taking a big hit. This might seem like the same thing, yet the stats don’t factor online unis into the final figures.

Plus, we can’t deny that there has been a shift from higher education to work. To the majority of parents, the idea of their kids following the same path is horrifying. So, a gentle nudge in the right direction was beneficial for both parents and children alike. However, the increase in competition has brought about a change in mentality. Nowadays, finding work after high school is simpler thanks to the $200,000 investment by Obama. And, seeing as apprentices can learn about lean manufacturing online, they have knowledge and skill. Again, this suits both the graduate and the employer.

Finally, there is the earning power. Kids at graduate age have made a realization: a degree isn’t the be all and end all regarding earning potential. According to Forbes, it isn’t uncommon for a construction manager to make upwards of $120,000 per year. Considering the national average is $80,000, this is a return which lots of young people don’t want to turn down. Plus, the cost of qualifying in a trade is a lot lower than going to university. As such, the overall profit margin is a lot higher on-site than off-site.

There are pros and cons of the decrease in college applications. However, it is hard to miss the fact that money is a factor and universities are pricing out the poorer students.