The Road to Realizing Obama’s 2020 Goal
Education is one of the major factors that can help a person climb the ladder of success. And like the first few rungs of a ladder, acquiring basic education can only get us so far. To really make a mark in the world, quality education plays a crucial role. As President Barack Obama said in his July 18th speech, "A world-class education is the single most important factor in determining not just whether our kids can compete fo the best jobs but whether America can out-compete countries around the world.”
Indeed, the Obama administration has set its sights on improving the quality of education in the country. In what has been dubbed as the Obama 2020 goal, the US president aims to “have the highest proportion of students graduating from college in the world by 2020.” He believes that every American after high school should be ready to enroll in at least a year of higher education or job training in order to prepare a future workforce that would compete in a 21st century economy.
The plan sounds simple enough, but what does it truly entail? To achieve the targeted figures, more individuals would need to enroll and complete a college degree. Unfortunately, according to Patrick J. Kelley, a senio associate at the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems, the percentage of 25- to 49-year-olds without college degrees who are enrolled in college has slowly been declining since 1990. In the 1990s, the percentage of adults pursuing a degree was at 8.1 as opposed to only 6.5 percent now.
To address the decline in the college completion numbers and to strengthen the higher education system, the President has made a commitment to restructure college financial aid and to create simpler, more reliable, and more efficient federal programs. This will hopefully make it easier for students to complete a degree. Investing in community colleges is also included in the plan to enable young adults to possess in demand skills and give them access to related research on emerging industries.
Apart from significant changes in the educational system, the students themselves are expected to play their parts in realizing the 2020 goal. Adult learners, in particular, will be major contributors in the numbers game. Because of the current decline in the number of adults with college degrees, an increase in the number of adult learners will definitely boost the deflating figures. In this regard, online schools are particularly helpful since they enable working adults to juggle work and school at the same time. Improvements on existing college support systems provided to nontraditional students and adult learners such as grants and more flexible schedules are likewise expected to contribute to the completion of their degrees.