A New Era of Higher Education: The Need for Change

The increasing cost of tuition, a change in demand among prospective students, and a lack of work readiness among college graduates have led many parents to question the validity of traditional educational institutions

The cost of obtaining a college degree has been rising steadily over the past two decades, and many experts predict that this trend will continue. The increasing cost of tuition, a change in demand among prospective students, and a lack of work readiness among college graduates have led many parents to question the validity of traditional educational institutions. As wealth advisors, we understand that education is one of the most important investments a family can make for their kids, but we also believe that traditional schools must adapt to meet the changing needs of students. We should question the current status quo of higher education and make sure our children are receiving value for the swelling costs.

The higher education sector has been slow to change and embrace innovation. The “older the better” mentality is becoming increasingly concerning as the value of innovation continues to grow. The current state of higher education presents a unique opportunity to leverage cutting-edge technology and provide students with a personalized, engaging, and relevant experience.

Today, students want a more tailored education experience that prepares them for the workforce. They want to feel a sense of belonging and be engaged in their learning.

Post-pandemic, the shift to remote learning has emphasized the importance of personalized, engaged experiences in student well-being. However, traditional institutions are struggling to meet these demands because of outdated technology that operates in silos, preventing departments from communicating and sharing information. This siloed approach creates operational inefficiencies, hinders collaboration, and creates a tribal culture that prioritizes individual units over the success of the entire institution.

One of the most significant issues facing higher education is the lack of preparation for students entering the workforce. Many graduates are not equipped with the skills and experience necessary to succeed in the job market. This is partly due to the fact that traditional institutions often operate in silos, with limited collaboration between departments. Additionally, they may not have access to real-time, relevant data that can inform their approach to student success and career readiness. According to educational consultant Ayesha Bangash, this has been a systemic issue with many of the so-called brand-name schools. 

Here are a few examples of how traditional institutions are falling short in preparing students for the real world:

  • Inadequate career services: Many colleges and universities offer limited career services to their students, leaving them ill-prepared to enter the workforce. These services may not be tailored to individual students and may not offer the support they need to land their dream job.


  • Lack of real-world experience: Many college curriculums lack hands-on, practical experience that prepares students for the real world. This lack of experience can make it difficult for graduates to transition into the workforce and succeed in their chosen careers.


  • Poor collaboration between departments: Departments may not work together effectively limiting opportunities for students to gain diverse experiences and prepare for their future careers.

As wealth advisors, we believe that it’s crucial to help our clients make informed decisions about their educational investments, especially given the dollars at play. To help solve these issues, we recommend looking for institutions that prioritize student success and workforce readiness over just choosing the high-priced brand names that spend millions on marketing/advertising.

Here are a three ways institutions can work toward improving student outcomes:

  • Invest in technology: Institutions should invest in technology that integrates all departments and provides real-time, relevant data to support student success. This technology should be user-friendly and accessible to all stakeholders, including students, faculty, and administrators. With the advent of OpenAI’s ChatGPT, schools and administrators now have access to new tools that can be utilized to enhance teaching off-site. Students can  be taught outside of traditional office hours, with personalized tutorials and chatbots to help with the learning process.


  • Personalized career services: Colleges and universities should provide personalized career services to students, including one-on-one career counseling, job-placement assistance, and access to industry professionals.


  • Hands-on learning opportunities: Institutions should offer students hands-on, practical experience in their chosen field through internships, capstone projects, and other experiential learning opportunities.


 By working together, we can ensure that our children receive the value they deserve from their higher-education investments and are well-prepared for their future careers.

Robert Dalie is a Managing Director of Investments with The Summa Group of Oppenheimer & Co. Inc. (“Oppenheimer”). He is in charge of wealth planning capabilities, one of the pillars the group is founded on.

Oppenheimer & Co. Inc. does not provide legal or tax advice, but will work with your other advisors to assure your needs are addressed. The opinions of the author expressed herein are subject to change without notice and do not necessarily reflect those of the Firm. Additional information is available upon request. Investors should review potential investments with their financial advisor for the appropriateness of that investment with their investment objectives, risk tolerances and financial circumstances.

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