The Unparalled Merits of College

(This challenge isn’t all that difficult for me as I will often argue both sides of any argument depending on which one needs the most support.  What follows is the point of view of a friend from the last “disagreement” I had with them regarding the need for everyone to have a college education.)

College is for everyone.

We, as a society, benefit every bit as much as the individual benefits from that advanced knowledge and experience attained by those who attend college and seek a degree.  A more educated populace means more demand for higher paying jobs, which means more taxes being collected, which means those unable to work have better resources at their disposal, which means health care costs go down for everyone, which means more money in the pockets of everyone, which means more people are willing to spend money, which means more jobs at all levels are needed…   This creates a self replicating cycle, because more highly educated people will be needed to fill those jobs, and we start again.

While you may argue that not every job requires the skills and experiences attained from a 2 or 4 year degree, I believe that perhaps if someone with a higher education took up one of those careers they would see a way to improve it, to reduce cots, to increase output, to benefit the company they work for and the society as a whole.

While you may argue that the sheer cost of college will become a detriment to those who are unable to find a high paying position despite their advanced education and thus create a burden on society rather than a bonus, I believe that the overwhelming majority of people will be able to find work.  That majority will easily cover the cost of those unable to pay back their college debt.  Besides, to make college a goal for us all to realistically achieve we will have to greatly reduce tuition anyway.

What other arguments do you have?  What flaws do you see in this plan?

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23 thoughts on “The Unparalled Merits of College

  1. I can see one right off the bat. I think it’s dependent on what the person gets a degree in. Not all degrees are “hireable” (don’t think that’s a word, but it’s the only one I could think of to illustrate my point)

    • That is an interesting argument… As a counter to that I will say that sometimes all you need is the piece of papers saying you got a degree (any degree) to get your foot in the door someplace. I have a degree in psychology, and I work in a completely unrelated field. My wife has a degree in History and she works in a completely unrelated field. I know several people where this is true. For some careers you do need a specific degree, for other careers you just needed a degree, any degree. The argument is that the experience of college is just as important as the knowledge gained in college.

      • True, just makes it harder though for some of those with the obscure degrees. Now, just for a clarification, are you including community colleges and certificate programs in your argument, or is this just for four year programs? Because I would also argue that not everyone needs a four year college degree either. There are a lot of needs in the specialized trade fields that people aren’t encouraged to gravitate towards because they think it’s “beneath them” Frankly, I wish I would have learned mechanic skills. Do you know the kind of money those people make?

      • I think I’m sticking to any higher level education, any 2 year, 4 year, trade school training and experience above and beyond high school. The argument is that no one should stop at high school, every one should seek some sort of additional education.

      • Gotcha. Then I’m in wholehearted agreement with you. I remember when I was in high school they used to have shop classes. I think you’re younger than I am. Did they have those when you were in high school?

      • My high school had shop, yes, but it was an elective rather than a required course. I too wish I knew more about taking care of my cars – then again, cars are so specialized now that it would cost a fortune just to have all the necessary tools to do the work yourself, then factor in the time, and it might be cheaper to take it to the mechanic….

  2. I have a few things to add. I think if everyone is expected to go through higher education it should be free and tax payer funded (I know that’s not something America is generally very fond of). Also as a parent I can look at my own kids and see that higher education in it’s traditional form will not suit all of them. I think the format and style of teaching needs to change to support different learning styles. Finally, I have 2 degrees and have recently been looking for a job and find myself unemployable in any job that is suited to my qualifications because I have been running my own business for 9 years and hence out of the industry loop. I now have the option of staying where I am, becoming gainfully underemployed or doing a third degree. I’m thinking about the last option.

    • If we fund (tax payer contribution) higher education, at what point do we we say: No, you’ve failed med school 3 times, I don’t think you are going to be a doctor, we aren’t going to pick up the tab anymore?

      Or, do we get to say, No you can’t go to school to be a lawyer because we already have enough of those and don’t want the market to be inundated, why don’t you study astronomy instead?

      Wait? Which point of view am I supposed to be arguing in the comments? Am I supposed to stick with my friend’s POV (like the post)? Or?

      • I think it depends on your view of the point of higher education in the first place. Is it because it teaches us to think critically, makes us better people, expands our minds and is good for us and society on a deeper level, or is it to attain a profession? I think you probably know which school of thought I come from. Also is it fair that people who are wealthy can get an education and hence better jobs and more wealth whereas kids who are born poor can’t afford an education and so the cycle continues?
        PS I knew arguing free education with an American was a long shot! How about free health care? Dental? Public transport? Maybe just a free hug?

      • Hugs are always free! 😀

        I’m still confused about which side of this argument I’m supposed to be on!! 😛

        From the point of view I wrote the post, I think I’d agree with everything you said. We need to break the current cycle and create a new cycle where we pay into the system to pay into ourselves, our societies, our children and our future.

      • Yeah! That’s what I’m saying, but I actually think that though…
        Sometimes hugs come with conditions. I’m glad yours are free.

  3. Another advantage of education is that it gives you a wide variety of stances in which to think from. Being able to view a situation economically as well as aesthetically expands your world.

    • This is the most useful aspect of the college education I received – it wasn’t in the classrooms, it was in the interactions with my fellow students and house mates and learning how to make my own way in this world by viewing how others perceived the world, comparing that to my own perceptions and determining what actually made the most sense to me.

  4. As with many things revolving around those formative years between childhood and adulthood, this is a topic in which you are always on my mind. I remember when my parents, who preached college for everyone to anyone who would listen, told me they would not send me because I didn’t match their idea of a solid plan. Your mom spent countless hours trying to talk my mom into fighting for me, into sending me to college. I remember the time you told me “Eff them! Move and do it on your own!” Which was a terrifying thought at the time. But eventually, I listened to what you said, and I did just that.

    But it was partially too late to do what I wanted. At that point, I had done a semester at good ole CCCC, which left me unable to just transfer into a university until I had finished the transfer program. In addition to that, my parents claimed me on their taxes because they paid my health insurance, and I could not get financial aid. So I struggled to achieve the only path I had ever even known was available: go to college or else.

    Eventually, I ended up in a vocational program. I thought this was the answer. I saw friends major in one field, and work somewhere else. I thought that was wrong. I thought that a vocational degree would fix that disconnect. But it never did fulfill what I needed. So here I am, back in school for a degree that I want, in a field I probably won’t work exclusively in, in the end. I do think that college is something everyone should have available. More than that, I think that young, teenage students should have more options independent of their families. Options to make their own decisions and find funding for them without their parents’ income hanging over them.

    That is all. For now.

    • “Students should have more options independent of their families.” I do believe you’ve hit upon something there. The people who want to go to college and have the aptitude and desire to succeed, to use it as the tool of learning it is meant to be, I don’t think there should be any obstacles laid in their paths. The people who don’t want to go, or won’t take advantage of it to the fullest (myself included) shouldn’t be forced that direction. We need to become more open as a society, listen to our youth, and give them the options they need to do what is right for them, not what we think is right for them.

      I needed to get out of town, but was college the right path for me? Probably not. If I had just gone into my current industry immediately how much further up the chain would I be by now?

      You needed to get out of town, but was college right for you? Yes, absolutely, because of your thirst for knowledge and your desire to better yourself constantly.

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