Thursday, November 1, 2012

Is College a Scam? (Why Do They Want Us To Go To College? revision)

          After doing more reading and thinking about the topic "Is College (Good) Enough?" I realized that I needed to redirect my questions from "Why Do They Want Us To Go To College?". My new questions are, does college teach us what we need to know? Who does college really benefit? And, is college good enough for everyone.

          So, does college teach us what we need to know? John Coleman doesn`t think so. 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. On the other side of that argument is Andrew Rotherham who explains that "...without a college degree, only 14 percent of Americans from the bottom fifth of parental income reach the top two fifths. But if they complete college, 41 percent of this same group can then expect to make it to the top two fifths." He then goes on to say that, "Children from low income families gain more by going to college than children of the wealthy lose by not going." I personally don`t believe that today`s colleges are teaching us what and how they should. We should be learning to treat our classmates as coworkers trying to achieve the same goal rather than being in constant contest with them and there should be more hands on learning so that we will know how to apply the ideas the courses are teaching us. At the same time I don`t believe that a college will ever be able to replace true experience.

          Who does college really benefit? This is a question that many people are asking now. They see tuition prices skyrocketing while the quality of education you receive at a university seems to be waning as the number of young adults attending college is at an all time high. A`s are now awarded to all average students and a college degree will be given to anyone who is willing to pay their tuition for at least 4 years. So what good does it really do you to have a piece of paper just like everyone else and nothing else to show for your time and money spent to get it. Noam Chomsky refers to this as a "vile maxim".  He points out that education is much cheaper in many other countries whether they are rich or poor and that the excuses made for the drastic rise in tuition rates are insufficient. He also tells about how many colleges are cutting programs in engineering, computer science, and nursing even though these are some of the few fields that are actually looking for new workers in this economy. I have also read many articles and blogs where tuition prices are being compared to the recently burst housing market bubble. According to Megan McArdle, "The average price of all goods and services has risen about 50 percent. But the price of a college eduction has nearly doubled in that time." So are the people in control of these universities really out there to educate people and add to society, or are they scamming us out of our money with useless degrees and nothing to show for our  effort? I don`t know but 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 of college graduates still felt the investment was a good one for them."

                               photo credit: Debbie Koenigs (probably outside) via photopin cc                           

          Is college good enough for everyone? The short answer is, no. Some people just don`t need college to achieve their goals. Some people are born with a passion or ability to do something that doesn`t involve a formal education. Others don`t get enough out of college to jump straight into the job market no matter how long they`ve studied a text book or how many tests they`ve taken. Then there are those who get exactly what they need out of their education. Then they can take their diploma and the basic skills they have learned and use that as a foundation to build a career on. Not everyone should go to college and I believe that less people should begin college just because they don`t know what else to do. College is not for partying, or escaping your parents, or "discovering yourself". It`s for getting an education so you can move on with your life. You shouldn`t just go through the motions of college without really knowing what you`re doing and what your goals are. According to The Case Against College Education, "40% of kids who enroll in college don`t get a degree within six years." Another factor to look at is how much the reward will outweigh the investment. According to Donald Marron in McArdle`s article, "If you`re in a position to be able to pay for education, it`s a bargain."

          So is college good enough? In some ways yes, it provides you with connections you may not be able to make anywhere else, it gives you a foundation of knowledge that you can continue to build on, and even though a degree is just a piece of paper in many career fields it`s the only option. On the other hand colleges don`t produce good employees. They have to be given a manual to know what to do and they lack the ability to turn what they know into something functional. Colleges don`t teach anything based on trial and error. There is only one right answer and one chance to get it. College students need hands on learning so they can see how the things they learn apply to real life. Colleges have their downfalls but they are a vital part of society, they just need to be reworked in order to keep up with the needs of their students.


  1. I really liked what you had to say. Your title was so catchy to me. The information you use and the way you worded what you said was easy to read and interesting. I only wish you had maybe used another picture or two. Good job overall though.

  2. I liked the way you changed the question up and everything. I would have liked to have seen a few more pictures,but the text of the post was wonderful.

  3. I enjoyed reading you blog, and all the content discussed. I particularly respected the way you stays reasonably unbiased. The only real revisions I would consider would to be to add more pictures, just to break up the text.

  4. Very well done. You did an excellent job of balancing the issues here and providing multiple viewpoints on each. I think you make some spot-on points about college, especially the kinds of students are being produced. I don't believe that, generally, colleges are teaching the kinds of thinking and skill sets that are required right now, much less the kind that will be required in 5 or 10 years. That's why I've asked the class to research and come up with ideas for how to transform higher education so that students really get what they are paying for (and maybe one of you can figure out how to make it less expensive, as well).