Across the country, students of all backgrounds and interests are gearing up to begin another semester of college. And there’s good news this time around! As NPR recently explained, tuition is remaining stable instead of growing at twice the inflation rate as it has for the last 26 years.

But in spite of this rosy news, not all is well in the sacred halls of learning. Unless students are careful and tackle college offensively, they’re liable to get burned by the following three problems, as outlined by economist Richard Vedder in his paper “Twelve Inconvenient Truths about American Higher Education.”

1. Unnecessary Credentials

Many young people pursue college thinking it will be a golden ticket to opportunities impossible without a diploma. The fact is, so many students now have diplomas that the job market is unable to handle all of them. As the chart below shows, many jobs which only require a high school degree are now filled with those holding a Bachelor’s:

People with Bachelor Degree Working at Jobs Not Requiring It

2. Slow Completion

Those who think degree achievement only takes a brief four years of labor and finances may want to take a second look at the facts. Based on the chart below, more than half of students at public universities spend six years trying to earn their diploma, a fact which causes costs to pile up more quickly. That number only grows even worse for students attending private colleges:

Four, Five, and Six-Year Grade Rates

3. Neglected Students

Students hoping that the years spent earning a Bachelor’s Degree will offer them an up close and personal relationship with some great minds may be disillusioned. Although some professors may offer such instruction, many others do not. As Vedder explains, many professors pour their time into graduate students or research instead of undergrads. Those students are shoved off onto non-faculty teachers, a fact which may explain their increasing prominence on campus:

Non-Faculty Professional Employees per 100 Faculty

Considering these statistics, is it any wonder why more individuals are rethinking the rush to send every student to college? Is it possible that students who find alternative solutions to higher education may eventually be the ones who get ahead of the curve, both financially and intellectually?

[Image Credit: Max Pixel]