College Education: Arguments For and Against
A college education is important, yet its cost has become an issue. Some feel that the cost is too high, and the returns very low. Many people from parents, students, the press, and the public have all voiced their concern over the cost of a college education.
Due to the high cost charged in tuition, room, as well as board prices college, has become out of reach to many people. This paper will endeavor to discuss the reason why college is worth students’ time and money in spite of the high cost.
Many people wonder if college is worth it. More and more young people are enrolling in college in the twenty-first century in spite of the high cost.
There is “evidence to suggest that in an increasingly knowledge-intensive society, the value of a college education- at least as measured by the difference in earning capacity afforded by a college degree- is continuing to increase” (Duderstadt 23). This has led many people to seek higher education in the twenty-first century.
A college education is worthwhile because it has become a trend in society today. There is increased value for advanced education because “one’s knowledge is the key in determining personal prosperity and well being” (Duderstadt 23).
In addition, courses in technology-intensive areas such as information technology, medicine, engineering, and others cost more, but students who enroll in them are more likely to get a job because of the high demand for knowledge in those areas. Therefore, students get jobs, and the jobs are well paying; thus, their living standards improve.
There is a demand for people with higher education in the job market. Economists explain that there is a “correlation between ability and earnings” (Smart, 29).
Becker urges that there is a higher demand for higher ability represents higher returns because” persons who produce more human capital from a given expenditure have more capacity or ability” (124). In addition, Mincer (56) agrees, “differences in levels of demand curve represent individual differences in productivities or abilities. Economists agree that an individual’s ability is related to their level of education.
People with a college degree earn more than those without. According to the Census Bureau, people who only have a high school diploma earn an average of about $1.2 million in their adult working life while those with college degrees earn an average of about $1.6 million. There is a difference of $ 400,000 due to the lack of a college degree.
Therefore, a college degree is worthwhile because it enables one to earn a higher income. In addition, “college graduates also enjoy benefits beyond increased income” (Lougheed 137).
A 1998 report published by the Institute for Higher Education Policy showed that college graduates enjoy higher savings levels, have increased professional as well as personal mobility. They are able to provide a higher quality of life to their offspring. College graduates are also able to make better consumer decisions and enjoy more leisure and hobbies activities (IHEP 1).
College learning equips an individual with paramount reasoning, communication, reflection, and tolerance skills. These skills are very important in problem-solving as well as resolving conflicts that one encounters ” in the course of personal or professional life” (Benefits of College Education 1).
Moreover, college education helps one to “understand other people’s viewpoints, and learn how to disagree sensibly” (Benefits of college Education 1). Therefore, one is able to lead a satisfying life, depending on how they learn to resolve crises and conflicts. It is important to note that these skills can be learned without attending college, but the college environment enhances their development.
College graduates get an opportunity to expand their “social horizons” (Benefits of college Education 1). This happens because they get a chance to meet new people and make friends in colleges. Colleges comprise of people from different backgrounds and countries.
This gives them a chance to share information with other people and hence learn about different cultures. Through these interactions, the college students get a chance to network- that is, sharing of information.
Many college students have been able to secure jobs through the contacts they made in college. Many college students say the networks formed in college helped them to “expand their horizons from the tribal village to the global village” (Benefits of college Education 1).
Apart from the monetary gains, college students have non-monetary gains, as shown by a report published by Carnegie Foundation. They have the tendency to be more open-minded, more consistent, and more rational; they also become less authoritarian. Due to these qualities that they acquire, they tend to have more fulfilling relationships as well as careers. Moreover, they pass these qualities on their offspring.
College attendance has shown to “decrease prejudice, enhance knowledge of world affairs, and enhance social status while increasing job and economic security for those who earn a bachelor’s degree” (Lougheed 137-8).
Furthermore, research has shown that there is a positive correlation between the completion of “higher education and health” of an individual as well as one’s children (Lougheed 138). Parents who have completed higher education are able to provide and maintain good health status for their children, and there is a lower mortality rate among their children in any give given brackets (Lougheed 138).
College education leads to social benefits. The majority of the research conducted has revealed that there exists a strong correlation between economic growth, cultural values, and family. Highly educated parents, especially women, spend more time with their children, and during this time, they “prepare their children for the future” (Cohn and Geske 263).
This raises the IQ of the children. The mothers are aware of the benefits of a college education and therefore invest more in education for their children. “When children have opportunities to inherit or adopt this information and these values, insights, beliefs, and perspectives from their parents, they acquire an early form of human capital” (McMahon 30).
Children from such advantaged backgrounds have an opportunity to get a higher education because their parents understand the value of advanced education. Moreover, “college graduates appear to have a more optimistic view of their past and future personal progress” (Cohn and Geske 267-9).
College education leads to public benefits. People who attend college pay more taxes; thus, the government is able to collect more revenues. The revenues are, in turn, used to finance government expenditure. College graduates have increased workplace productivity hence higher outputs.
In addition, due to their higher earnings, college graduates have increased consumption. Thus, they contribute to economic growth. They also reduce reliance on the government for support. The government can, therefore, use the money it would have used on them to do other things.
Conversely, there are people who feel that the cost of a college education is too high and thus a waste of time and money due to low returns. Some college students are in school not because they want to “be or because they want to learn” (Bird 147).
Some are there because going to college is a trend, their parents wanted them to go, or simply because “college is a pleasant place to be; because it is the only way they can get parents or taxpayers to support them without getting a job they do not like” (Bird 146). This leads to a waste of money spent on such students by their parents and the state because they do not learn.
To them, college is a social place to meet friends and have no time for classwork. Most such students end up dropping out of college anyway. Therefore, the money invested in these institutions of learning is wasted when not used in the right way.
The cost of a college education is very high, and the high cost makes colleges inaccessible to many students. Those who stay on and finish feel that going to college was not worth as one student put it during an interview “in two years, I’ll pick up a diploma, and I can honestly say it was a waste of my father’s bread” (Bird 150).
The high cost of a college education has led universities to develop packages to attract students and keep their finances solvent. There is a debate about the quality of education offered in some colleges. Many feel that education has been reduced to and become like products to be sold in a market.
The packages developed are commercially built and promise students a wonderful life during their study while focusing less on the curriculum. Thus, a question arises about the quality of college degrees.
The other argument against college education is the high numbers of unemployed college graduates. Doing a translation from college to employment is difficult these days. This has led to high levels of unemployment among college graduates. “Somewhere between the nursery and the employment office, they become unwanted adults” (Bird 179).
In conclusion, there is no doubt that the cost of a college education is high and continues to rise, and this is problematic, especially to students who fall under the lowest income brackets. This becomes a financial burden; however, the long-term benefits to an individual and the society are numerous and far outweigh the high cost.
Therefore, everyone should strive to get a college education because it improves the quality of one’s life hence adding value. Parents and the state should put more effort into providing a college education. The parents should encourage their children to acquire higher education because, in the world of today, many jobs available require some form of post-high school education.
The government, on the other hand, should increase funding to colleges to make the tuition fee affordable to students from low-income levels. The government’s support will help to cushion students against inflation that has led to the skyrocketing of college education cost.
On the other hand, the value of college education cannot be underestimated because it leads to financial rewards. Moreover, it is easier to change careers with a college education. For sure, college education has value and is worth the time and money of a student.
Becker, Gary Stanley. Human Capital: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis with Special Reference to Education. 2nd ed. Chicago: university of Chicago press, 1993.
“Benefits of a college Education.” University of Maryland College n.d.
Bird, Caroline. The Case against College. Colorado: D. McKay Co, 1975.
Cohn, Elchana and Geske, G Terry. The Economics of Education. 3rd ed. Oxford: Pergamon Press, 1990.
Duderstadt, J James. A university for the 21st century. Michigan: University of Michigan Press, 2000. ISBN0472110918, 9780472110919
Institute for higher education Policy (IHEP). . IHEP, 8 Apr. 1998.
Lougheed, Lin. Barron’s How To Prepare for the IELTS (International English Language Testing System). New York Barron’s Educational Series, 2006. ISBN0764179357, 978076417935.
McMahon, W Walter. ”Why Families Invest in Education.” In S.Suydman & MA Spaeth (eds), The Collection And Analysis Of Economic and Consumer Behavior Data: in memory of Ferber (pp 75-91). Urbana, IL: Bureau of Economic And Business Research, University of Illinois.
Mincer, Jacob. The Distribution of Labor Incomes: A Survey in J Mincer(ed), Studies in Human Capital: collected essays of Jacob Minces. Brookfield, VT: Edward Elgar, 1993.
Smart, C John. Higher Education: Handbook of Theory and Research. New York: Springer, 2008. ISBN1402092806, 9781402092800
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