Skip to main content

See also:

Should everyone go to college

Magdalen College, Oxford
Magdalen College, Oxford
Prabhu Doss

No, not all Americans should go to college. Robert Perry and Margaret Miller have both written articles about the macroeconomic benefits behind requiring students to go to college, the intellectual potentiation of the population, and the seemingly everlasting pipeline of education that tends to incur in families once a degree is attained by a family member. Charles Murray and Pharinet on the other hand argue the idea that maybe education is not meant for everyone. Why should students who are not motivated to participate in education complete an education that is meaningless to them as individuals. Although completely dropping out from education after high school may not be the best option for some individuals, Murray and Pharinet both promote the aspect of attending vocational schools and two-year colleges. When gathering up points made by all four authors, it is reasonable to come to the question, is a four year degree really worth it to everyone?
Murray and Pharinet bring up the point that education has merely become a social requirement, regardless of the field of study of the student. Murray makes a very interesting point by saying, “large numbers of those who are intellectually qualified for college also do not yearn for four years of college-level courses. They go to college because their parents are paying for it and college is what children of their social class are supposed to do after they finish high school.” This quote embodies one of the major points behind the belief that many students should not be at universities. Education does not just represent the opportunity to strengthen one’s intellectualism, but also serves as a social staple in society. It is too often that college drop out stories become the dispiriting topic of conversation at dinner tables across the nation. However, perhaps it is actually for the better that these students drop out.

What needs to change is the stigma behind college level education. Instead of making it a social requirement, society must strive to understand that college is meant for some people and others not; albeit, those not can be restricted through certain financial constraints and/or certain intellectual needs. Those same college dropouts in turn can find the necessary “education” through the means of vocational school, two year colleges, online education, workplace training, and many other methods of cost-effective learning.

It is without a doubt that the price of education is skyrocketing. The price of education is record high and has been surpassing inflation rates for decades, both Murray and Pharinet foolishly avoid these points, but it is imperative that it is addressed as it is even more of a pressing concern than most people imagine. But why do people avoid comprehension of financing education? People avoid comprehension of financing education because it is completely abstract to them. Students can pay over $240,000 just for a four year degree at some universities. Parents support taking out loans at this amount (with an interest rate of 4.66% for undergraduates (Stafford Loan)) because of course, education is a social requirement and these same parents want to avoid those dispiriting conversations with their co workers about their kids dropping out. It is without a question that education prices are skyrocketing, and will continue to do so for awhile. In a 1997 film, Good Will Hunting, Matt Damon says “you blew $150,000 on an education you could’ve gotten for $1.50 in late fees from the library.” Well, that $150,000 in 1997 will cost you $249,000 today at Harvard University (College Board). It is true that college level education will raise your starting salary pending you get a job, but the price for that education is beginning to outweigh the potential benefits of completing that degree. Students and parents should not be required to field hundreds of thousands of dollars in potential debts, especially when they cannot comprehend the entire financial realm of the situation.

Education is starting to evolve and so are the minds of students. Universities have begun to publish online courses through their websites, Coursera, among many other services. Khan Academy, produced by MIT alum Salman Khan, teaches many different lessons across many fields of academia for free. The way education is changing is merely through this, it is becoming virtual and it is becoming free. Students throughout the world, such as those in Pakistan and Mongolia have access to free online courses broadcasted by MIT, almost the same courses that students pay $61,030 (College Board) to attend per year. It is without a question that not everyone should pursue a college education, but it is certain that all people should engage in some aspect of learning whether through work, vocational school, or online education. Achieving a bachelors degree has merely become an inculcation in our society, a social requirement in order to be successful. The first step to repair this is fixing the social stigma behind education. “People who go to college are not better or worse people than anyone else; they are merely different in certain interests and abilities. That is the way college should be seen. There is reason to hope that eventually it will be.” Not all students are meant to pursue college level education through four year universities, education is always available through more feasible means. The economy and society we live in is ever changing, and it is reasonable to believe that the education paradigm will too.