College in Decline and Bootcamps on the Rise Amid COVID-19

January 29, 2021

Questioning college? You and apparently millions of others! The COVID-19 pandemic has seen college in decline and bootcamps on the rise as people flock to shorter-term options that offer a clear career path and a marketable skillset. For some, it’s the newfound financial strain causing them to realize they need a new career ASAP and can’t spend 4 years and $50k to get it. A recent Wall Street Journal article even wonders, “Is This the End of College as We Know It?” Keep reading for our interpretation.

The Rise of College

College is generally accepted as the thing to do after high school, but it wasn’t always that way. The “college for all” campaign originated during the Civil Rights movements of the 1960s, when college was a luxury for the rich. It caused a racial and classist divide as those that couldn’t afford it took on trades. However, college is still a luxury for the rich. Only now, those that can’t afford it have to fight for scholarships and grants or bear the burden of student loan repayment for three, four, sometimes five or more decades. Thanks to student loan repayment, many feel forced to postpone life milestones, unable to finance a house or children while catching up on debt. In the midst of a pandemic, that financial strain is a risk people are more hesitant to take.

The Promise Undelivered

What’s the point of college, anyhow? Why insist that everyone should go even if it causes financial strain for decades? Well, because it’s supposed to give us the education we need to be successful, prepare us for the working world, and get us to a job where we can make use of our degree right after college. For the lucky few, that actually happened. The rest didn’t get the Return on Investment they hoped for. After college, they struggled to find their way, often winding up in career paths that don’t require their degree, but all the while, continuing to pay for it. A promised not delivered? Not exactly, because there was never a legal promise, just advice from everyone around them. An unfortunate debt and learning experience? Some may call it that.

College in Decline Amid COVID-19

So if not college, then what? Many are going against the grain, saving tens of thousands of dollars and years of their life in the process. Who’s profiting? Institutions that offer short-term training in a marketable skill, and their students. The pandemic has loomed upon us for about a year now, and in that year, short-term credential classes saw an enrollment spike of 8 million students, a 70% increase from just before COVID-19. Meanwhile, enrollment of freshmen in college dropped 16%. Going this route, even students are profiting, as they’re able to start earning income much faster.

Bootcamps on the Rise

While short-term classes in more traditional trade careers, like electricians, mechanics, plumbing, and some health care professions have been around since 1879, coding bootcamps are really at the heart of this spike. They’re newer and more enticing to the emerging adults of Gen Z. They help millennials right the wrongs of their post-grad plans not working out. Even older generations are seeing the shift to a technical world and want in.Our aim here at Codeup is to develop the workforce, our mission to empower life change. While we can’t speak to any other coding schools’ mission, their aim is more or less the same. College provides a place to learn while coding bootcamps and trade schools provide a clear path into a career. College provides an often broad and philosophical education, covering a wide array of topics like history, science, and liberal arts, with a focus on whatever we are interested in. Coding bootcamps and trade schools prepare you for one thing and one thing only, with a focus on in-demand careers. It’s everything you need to know, and nothing you don’t.Currently in college and feeling stuck? Transition out with Codeup, where you can start your career 10X faster! Learn more here.Are you a recent graduate feeling like you’ve been jipped? Thinking a Master’s Degree will do the trick? If you’re not interested in coding but enjoy data, math, and analytics, you’ll definitely want to check out this page.