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An Outside Perspective

Perception of American education and opportunity.

Photo of Hovsep Agop
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I interviewed someone who hasn’t experienced the education system first hand but followed her perception of it to build a better life for the family. She is 55-years-old and has been in the US for nearly 40 years. I have included the question and a transcribed summary of her response.

What do you think about the educational system in the US today?
Educational opportunities for our family is one of the big reasons we moved to the United States. Quality education is needed and there needs to be a way to make it affordable so the kids don’t live with long term debt. It’s difficult because kids come out owing money and have a hard enough time finding work. The government will benefit if the students are doing better work so there should be a way that they can invest in their future. If children are the future and if the students aren’t getting a quality education then the country will not improve.

Why do you think 44% of students in 4-year college drop out/don’t finish?
Because every parent can’t afford it. But if the kids go through college and get good jobs, they will be able to afford education for their children.

Why do you think 71% of students in 2-year colleges drop out/don’t finish?
There is no pressure to finish school, they let the kids be. The schools need to pursue the kids to make them do better work.

The average student loan for undergraduates is around $30,000.
The kids are out of high school and don’t have skills or jobs. If their parents are poor, how are they going to afford an education?

How do we make college affordable for the future?
Maybe make educational taxes to fund the kids of the future. So many people have children, even if they don’t they’re investing in the future of the country. The US should also ask how other countries are creating free educational systems so they can also do it.

What do you think about online degrees?
I don’t think it’s good because people can cheat, you don’t know for sure that they’re learning. They will let you go if they don’t do the job once you get work. It needs to be hands-on so people are engaged but it’s too expensive. For example, how can you teach nursing online? You can’t. Even if you test them you don’t know if they’re googling things or cheating. This impacts lives in the long run.

How about getting a job after college and paying debt for the long term?
There is no guarantee that they will be paying off their debt in the amount of time they have. Kids should not have interest on their loans, they are trying to better themselves. It’s worse for people who are in programs like law and have 100k in debt and then can’t get a job until they pass a test.

How long does it take to fix a problem like this?
If they are aggressive it can take 4-5 years.

What is a provocation or insight that might inspire others during this challenge?

What perceptions bring people into the education system? What other perspectives are there about what the educational system offers?


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Photo of Anne-Laure Fayard

Thanks Hovsep for sharing these insights. I'm curious to know if your interviewee had children herself and what was her plans for them.

Photo of Hovsep Agop

Of course! She does not have children herself but is part of an extended family who came to the US to provide a better life for her sister's children.

Photo of Anne-Laure Fayard

Thanks for the complementary information. The theme of cost vs. value (for a better job, a better life, etc.) is particularly meaningful in this context.
You might want to check some posts on this theme:
and on how education brings a better life:

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