Thursday, September 20, 2012

College: Good or Bad?

          Before researching this subject I never knew anyone considered college a waste of time. What I have learned is that a person`s opinion about a college degree can vary as much as their opinion about the best movie ever made or anything else for that matter. Sometimes the people with the strongest opinions against a college degree are the actual graduates themselves. They feel that, in the end, the knowledge they gained was not worth the time, effort, or financial burden it took to gain it. Their degree either didn`t get them the job they wanted or didn`t fully prepare them for that job once they got it, and that was the sole reason they attended a university in the first place.

          In my opinion, the college experience is much more valuable than that. While some may argue that the things you learn in college are generally useless and that employers attach far too much value to a college degree, much like Doug Mataconis does in his article What Good is a College Education?, others counter that you get much more out of your time at a university than a degree. In Live and Learn: Why We Have College you can read about the function college serves in society. The author of the article, Louis Menand, provides two different views about the benefits of college which he explains as being separate, but I believe they coincide and are both equally true. He explains that college separates people by intelligence and aptitude according to an overall GPA and what field they earn their degree in. In his words, "College is essentially a four-year intelligence test." He also makes the argument that college develops better citizens, it teaches them social skills, and enlightens them to things they probably would not learn otherwise. In Mataconis`s article, he quotes Hans Bater who makes a direct contrast to this last statement. He claims that when polled, a person without any college education is more likely to know who his Congressmen are than someone with some. But another argument in Menand`s favor can be found in Professor: Value of College Extends Beyond Paycheck. In this article, Mike Rose makes the point that, "...having a functioning democracy requires having an educated citizenry." This seems to support Menand`s belief that, "There is stuff that every adult ought to know, and college is the best delivery system for getting that stuff into people`s heads", don`t you think?

          There are some who say that your opinion on college varies according to how you spent your time in college and why you chose to go to college in the first place. In Why Some Graduates Believe University Was a Waste of Time, Holly Higgins describes her findings when asking some college graduates about their experience. It shows that the people who took more time to enjoy college, learn socialization skills, and participate in extracurricular activities were much happier with their decision to earn a degree and more likely to encourage others to purse one themselves than people who earned a degree for the sole purpose of getting a leg-up in the work fore. What does this say to me? Enjoy college and make it a memorable experience instead of treating it as a nagging task that must be completed before reaching your final career goal and you will get much more out of college than a degree and a bunch of seemingly useless knowledge.

          In What is College Good for Anyway?, Nate Kornell Ph.D. asks college students about what they want to learn in college and what they would like to be learning if they were not working toward a degree. It turns out that the answers to these two questions were very different. Working toward a degree, students tended to take the bare minimum of courses required to earn that degree and their sole purpose was to get a good-paying job. When given the opportunity to take a course about anything they were interested in, students chose to learn things such as juggling or beer-brewing, or spent their time in South Africa. This, to me, provides an important perspective on how students should view their education.

                                         photo credit: Our Lady of Disgrace via photo pin cc

          My conclusion can be summed up like this: college is important and anyone who has the opportunity to attend should. A college degree is required for many jobs today and people with college degrees generally make more money than those without. Although the degree and a job based around that degree are the ultimate goal, the college experience should be just that, an experience. College students should take advantage of the social aspect of college by making lasting connections and learning how to interact with many different kinds of people. They should also get involved with extracurricular activities to make the time they have in between classes and studying enjoyable. College provides you with life-skills you may not learn anywhere else and it also gives a young person the chance to mature and become independent. There is no downside to college as long as you don`t miss out on it because you`re too busy rushing toward the end of it.

1 comment:

  1. You done a great job on this. It was so easy to follow and broke everything down really good. Your next to last paragraph was the best I think it basically summed up almost every college student completely.