Right now in our society a college education is no longer an option or privilege, but rather a necessity. We are practically raised and conditioned to believe that one needs higher education in order to succeed in life. There is a saying that says “if you think education is expensive, try ignorance.” But as technology is constantly advancing and computers are running almost anything, is a college education really necessary? There are people whom have never set foot in a college and are doing better than people who have their master’s degree. There are views from both sides that contain a valid argument.
The main reason why people go to college is not because they want to but because they have to. Most high school seniors are pressured by their guidance counselors and parents to go to college because it is “the right thing to do.” In the essay that Caroline Bird wrote “College is a Waste of Time and Money”, she states that students go to college because ” . . . Mother wanted them to go, or some other reason entirely irrelevant to the course of studies for which college is supposedly organized.” (481) The student may have different ideas about what he or she wants to do in life, but because they think that these “mentors” know what is best for them, they probably end up doing something they do not want to do, resulting in being miserable and resentful.
Let’s face it, going to college is socially prestigious. Most people go to college only for the title of being called a college student. ” For some young people, it is a graceful way to get away from home and become independent without losing the financial support of their parents.” They do not want to be looked down upon so they do what would look best in the eyes of society. It is practically beat into our heads that in order to be a productive citizen of society, you should have some sort of college education. Being a college student is perhaps a more respectable role than being, for example, a janitor or a garbage man because of the negative connotations such jobs receive.
Going to college and getting a degree does not necessarily guarantee that an individual is going to get a job right after graduation. It is hard out there for recent graduates to find a good job since there is so much competition due to the increasing accessibility of a college education. Even if they do get a job, it is not usually not in what they got their degree for. They have to find some sort of job to pay off all the debt that their college education has given to them.
Many college students would feel that college is a waste of money because they do not learn what they want to. Instead they have to take classes that have close to nothing to do with their major but are only taking these classes in order to fulfill a general educational requirement. “This Gen Ed thing is really stupid.” says , a physical therapy major at SUNY Buffalo. “Taking these classes that I won’t need is just wasting time I feel that could be spent more on classes within my major. Plus, if I do bad in these classes, it will bring down my overall GPA, which is so important for my major.” Upon graduation, some feel that they are at a disadvantage because more time could have spent on learning more within their field of study and less time on irrelevant materials.
The major reason of going to college is, of course, to get a good job. College prepares us with academic knowledge in order to succeed in the future. According to Ernest Boyner’s concept of the “New American College”, higher education is essential for preparation for one’s future. He states that:
In spatial terms, teaching and learning may begin in a classroom, but course work also spills over into the life of the campus and the community. Students engage in experiential learning and co-curricular activities that take abstract ideas and anchor them in real-life problems.
As the competition to get a decent job is increasing, it is close to impossible to obtain a high paying job without at least a bachelor’s degree. Many jobs that only used to want their workers to have a high school diploma now require some college education due to their extremely complicated nature.
Another way college is worth the money, however, is because it is one of the few institutions that often contains people of different ethnic and racial backgrounds. Such a situation allows one to develop their social and communicative skills because they are exposed to unfamiliar cultures. This is necessary for the fact that a person does not want to come across as ignorant towards a certain culture.
College is like a steeping stone to becoming a responsible adult because for the first time most people are practically on their own. It is completely different from high school in that not only that school has to be dealt with, but you have to juggle your personal time and financial state as well. They go away to college and face circumstances that they would most likely come across when they finally do go on their own. Bills have to be paid, time has to be managed efficiently, and deadlines have to be met, just like in the “real world.”
College is not only about getting a good job ‘but about acquiring knowledge and broadening one’s horizon. A lot of courses that are at school are not needed for a certain major but are just there for interested people who want to learn more about a certain subject. Bowen explains this goal by breaking it down into three aspects. He expresses it in this manner:
…the specific goals for the education function are derived. This function…is intended to help students develop as persons in three respects: cognitive learning, by expanding their knowledge and intellectual powers; affective development, by enhancing their moral, religious, and emotional interests and sensibilities; and practical competence, by improving their performance in citizenship, work, family life, consumer choice, health, and other practical affairs. It is sometimes just as good to be an intelligent person and know about a lot of things instead of being someone who makes a lot of money.
College definitely has its pros and cons. But I think that college is what you make of it. It can be the best time of your life, but only if you want it to. You can take the pessimistic view about it and think that college is a waste of money, or it can be looked at as a challenging and exciting new frontier that basically will set the precedent for the rest of your life.