Should Everyone go to College?

Barnard College, 1913 (LOC)

Barnard College, 1913 (LOC) (Photo credit: The Library of Congress)

Sadly, some people blindly believe that a college degree is the recipe for success.  We hear about people who get one or more degrees that they never even use, which can be a significant problem for anyone without the financial independence to pay for it..  Even for students who will benefit from a college education, the cost of that education should be considered compared to the future salary.  Graduating with large debt can delay many life decisions and put off potential life partners.

This high demand for a college education has caused the dramatic increase in education costs, because of natural laws of economics of supply and demand.  Now there are growing problems with the expectation of going to college, for-profit colleges are abusing this assumption to make money off of hard working people, students (including some PHD’s) are still not able to find a job because of oversupply, and even regular people accumulate a debt load that takes a lifetime to repay when students do not analyze college costs to future salary.

1) not all jobs require a college education, although every person can improve their work performance with more education.  Especially for low income jobs, if everyone gets a decent education they will not be happy working these positions.  So we should identify people with the personality to perform well in these positions (such as those who would not do well in school and enjoy the low responsibility lifestyle) and provide them skills training for these types of jobs.  I believe these jobs should allow people to earn a minimum standard of living for that locale.

2) Not all people require college to achieve a good education, some people have the self motivation, curiosity, and tenacity to educate themselves.  So when Steve Jobs, and Bill Gates, and others say college is not required for success, they are right; for some people.

We should not blindly believe that a college degree is a guarantee for success, or long term financial security.  Its the right thing for many people, who carefully choose the university and the topic of study.  I believe education is the most important thing in the world, but I don’t believe that a college program is the only way to be educated, nor do I think it’s the most economical way.

I think part of the problem is that people want more, we believe we’re entitled to more, and we spend money on items that are not necessary instead of focusing on the items that provide that minimum standard of living.  How many people purchase more clothing than they actually need, expensive jewelry or forms of entertainment instead of healthy food or educational items to improve our own survival?  Because that is our standard in Western Society to enjoy a life of luxury.

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One comment on “Should Everyone go to College?

  1. I agree that not everyone should (could, for a variety of reasons such as financial) go to college. (Or perhaps I should say not everyone has to go to college.) However, I have a few comments:

    1) As you mention, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates are exceptions. So I think kids shouldn’t drop out of college just because they did.
    2) Whether we like it or not, globalization (and everything that comes with it such as off-shoring) is here to stay as long as the Western world, and U.S. in particular, chooses to stay as capitalist societies. This means that more and more mid-level and manufacturing jobs are “off-shored”, and the “new economy” jobs require more and more technical and scientific skills. It would be very hard (if not impossible) to gain these skills unless you go to college.
    3) Hopefully kids who go to college get good advice from their parents and school counselors about choosing their majors. Spending tens of thousands of dollars on a humanities degree, with little job prospects after graduation, is probably not a wise decision for most people.
    4) I totally agree that for-profit colleges should be heavily regulated. Given the demand for college degrees, people seem to be willing to believe everything they hear and read, and these institutions could (lately they have been in the news, but I do not know all the facts) be luring people with false and misleading promises.
    5) Certainly not all the jobs require a college degree and it is simply not realistic for everyone to get a college degree. Hopefully our society will become more equal and fair, so people working at those jobs will be able to earn a decent wage.

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