The historical "country of dreams" has taken a pitfall in education. In a recent report by the Organization for Economic and Cooperation and Development (OECD), the United States ranked 16th place for adults between ages 25 to 34 with college degrees.
Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education concluded in a separate study titled "Pathways to Prosperity: Meeting the Challenges of Preparing Young Americans for the 21st Century" that college just is not for everyone.
Some of the blame is put on the pressure on students in the U.S. to complete a four-year university. The study shows that only 30 percent of Americans earn a bachelor’s degree by the time they are 27 years old.
Other countries have caught on to this concept and have been encouraging two-year professional schools, a solution to the education issue highly recommended in Harvard’s research.
Robert Schwartz, an academic dean at Harvard University, told Bloomberg News, "For an awful lot of bored, disengaged kids who are on the fence about completing high school, they need to see a pathway that leads them to a career that is not going to require them to sit in classrooms for the next several years."
Another contributor to America's drop in rank is Asia and Europe's expansion of education, which explains why Asian countries like Japan and South Korea and European countries like Sweden and France are ranked higher than the U.S. South Korea has a 63 percent rate of young adults with degrees.
Jamie Merisotis, chief executive of the Lumina Foundation told the Washington Post, "Most of these countries are moving ahead, and we are stuck in neutral."
The last time the U.S. led the world in education was in the 1970s. When will the country regain its title?
President Barack Obama has proposed $12 billion to improve two-year education programs, a move that may help the U.S. regain its status as a world leader in education.