Thursday, October 4, 2012

Why Do They Want Us To Go To College?

          When I began researching and learning about this topic, "Is College (Good) Enough?" I realized that I was finding more questions than answers. Does college teach us what we need to know? Is it really worth the price? And most importantly to me, is college the same amount of "good" for everyone?

          I`d like to start out by addressing the question, does college teach us what we need to know? There are many people who would argue both sides. John Coleman takes the side that it doesn`t. He points out the bad habits that a learning environment like college plants inside even the most brilliant of minds. No matter how motivated or intelligent a new college grad is, they come out not fully prepared for a work environment. They look out for only themselves, are too perfection oriented, fear failure, and don`t understand true leadership. Noam Chomsky concurs with his belief that we are educated the "right way: Limit their perspectives and understanding, discourage free and independent thought, and train them for obedience." But I`m not sure I agree with Chomsky about that. On the other side of the argument lie those who insist college is the only way to be educated. Most employers also lie on this side considering you are much more likely get a job with a college degree on your resume. I`m rather middle of the road on this issue. I believe that in most cases college gives you a basic foundation that you can build a career around. No, it can`t teach you everything but you have to start somewhere. In my case, no one would even consider hiring an engineer who didn`t know how to do higher level math. Nothing beats experience but most employers don`t want to teach you every detail of a job, they expect you to come in with the basics. On the other hand, many careers still don`t require a day of formal college education. If that`s the field you are pursuing then college cannot at all help you.

          My next question is, is it really worth the price? Years ago this was not a question at all. Of course that was back when the line between the cost of a college degree and the financial stability it promised in the future was a mile wide and before people were digging themselves into an unescapable hole of debt. Today, for many people, that line is very thin if it is still there at all. It is true that, while its hard for anyone to find a job right now, the unemployment rate for a college graduate is half that of someone who only has a high school diploma. The key word here though is "graduate". The number of college dropouts is growing just as fast the number of people attending, and the worst part is some of those dropouts are attending on borrowed money that they will never be able to pay back. According to The Case Against College Education, "40% of kids who enroll in college don`t get a degree within six years." But, with the influx in students, no matter how many graduate, came an influx in cost as well. According to Megan McArdle, "The average price of all goods and services has risen about 50 percent. But the price of a college education has nearly doubled in that time." Where there is money to be made someone will always find a way to take advantage of it. So my answer to this question is, yes it is worth the cost, but only for some people. Not everyone will benefit from going to college especially if they throw money into something they won`t finish. If you don`t have to go to college and you can`t afford it then don`t go.

          So this brings me to my final point, is college the same amount of "good" for everyone? My answer is, simply, no. Not everyone needs to or should go to college. College is not for partying or escaping your parents or "discovering yourself". Its for getting an education so you can move on with your life. If you aren`t going to put forth the effort to truly learn and earn your degree then you aren`t doing anyone any favors by going to college and throwing away money. If you are going through the motions of college without really knowing why you`re here or without having a goal then you should stop spending the money and figure out your plans somewhere else. You may end up choosing a career  that doesn`t involve a college degree and you`ll be happy you didn`t waste your time chasing something useless to you. Andrew Rotherham points out that "...only 40 percent of Americans felt that colleges provided an 'excellent' or 'good' value for the money. At the same time, 86 percent or college graduates still felt the investment was a good one for them." Again the key word is "graduate".

          My answer to whether or not college is good enough is that there is no specific answer. It depends on why you are in college in the first place. Do you really want or need to be there? Can you afford to be there? Are you wasting your time? Do you have a goal you are trying to reach? Each and every person has to decide for themselves whether or not college is good enough for them. They need to sit down and weigh the pros and cons of college for both them and the people around them. They also need to consider the financial burden and really understand if the pay off will outweigh the cost or if they will simply roll their debt off onto someone else.


1 comment:

  1. I really liked your post. The points you made were very clear and percise. I agree with you also with experience and education. Most employers want experience but aren't going to baby feed it to you.