Sep 09, 2020 04:53 PM EDT
University Life 50 Years Ago vs. Today
The global pandemic prompted an overhaul in higher education as we know it. Students are returning to mostly virtual classrooms this fall, but the advent of technology in learning isn't entirely new.
It's been one of the most evident drivers of change in the field over the past fifty years.
Some things are better, others worse, but the trend is unmistakable. Let's take a look at the most significant areas that went through a transformation.
The integration of technology changed the way university students pursue their education today. They rely on web and PDF sources of information, online classrooms, and instant communication, which wasn't the case fifty years ago.
Modern personal computers were in early development stages in the mid-70s. Mobile technology only became commonplace in the 90s.
Today, the infinite amount of resources at our fingertips surpasses the knowledge held at any library available to our parents in their university days.
Apart from the convenience it brought, technology increased opportunities.
It's furthered engineering majors and introduced new study areas, from more traditional software development to media studies. Tech-driven careers are desirable and broadly pursued, at least by those who can afford it.
College tuition used to be affordable enough for people to work through university and pay for it with the minimum wage. However, the rise in college costs has long outpaced the growth of incomes in modern families.
The National Center for Education Statistics shows that attending university costs rose around 150% from 1969. As a result, over 70% of students are taking out student loans.
Even students with scholarships need help to afford food, housing, and other essential living expenses. Paying for education is becoming one of the most significant concerns for current and future students, which brings us to the next point.
Students face more pressure than ever to get a lucrative job and make a prosperous living after graduation.
A degree was enough to ensure a stable, well-paid position in the past, while now, it's not the case. Plus, with such high costs involved, getting a return on investment is critical.
The rising stress levels also lead to more young people suffering from mental health issues, further exacerbated by an inadequate work-life balance. Most people don't have the time for a proper social life while staying on top of their workloads.
Fraternities and sororities used to be all the rage among college students, but fewer people are interested in joining them today. The Higher Education Research Institute performed a survey in 2017 and found that the number fell to 11.4%.
The percentage of people pursuing team sports remains at the same level, though, while students spend the rest of their social hours with more modest friend groups.
Among all these changes, one fact remains. Education is still critical for confronting the changing times, perhaps more so today than ever before.
So, while life is a bit more difficult for university students nowadays, pursuing a major is still among the most valuable things a person can do.
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