In a generation where going to college has become an inevitability as opposed to the mere possibility it was a few decades ago, questioning the worth of a college education seems almost absurd. Yet, more and more people have begun to do just that.
The issue is not really whether attending college is important. A college degree is unquestionably necessary in the modern American business world. A professional career is pretty much beyond the reach of someone who has not received a Bachelor’s degree or higher.
The real center of the heated debate is what going to college really does for students. Experts and students alike have started to consider what is being learned in universities across the nation. Do students even feel like they have learned anything at all?
College classes are meant to be more advanced than those taken in high school or earlier, but this cannot be said of all of them. Many classes are just as basic as high school classes and cover much of the same material. These classes are necessary in some cases, especially considering the diverse education backgrounds of students from different parts of the country or abroad. Yet, someone who has already had courses like these in high school should not be repeating them in college.
This leads to a major issue. There are many students who look only for the easy “A” when making a class schedule. Those who take lower level classes for the sake of a better grade really are not learning anything in the long run.
Another question has to do with the choice of majors. If a person chooses a major such as Philosophy and then pursues a career totally unrelated to the material of that major, such as Medicine, one may be left wondering what the point of those four years spent studying Philosophy was. However, if a student actually takes an interest in a major and takes the work seriously, even if it is different than the program they go into after undergraduate college, then the time spent taking those courses was worth it. Studying a major that differs from one’s intended field of graduate work will give that student a broader educational background, which may actually help him or her to get into the graduate program.
It can also be said that college students learn practical lessons in addition to academic ones. The four years spent in college can be considered a valuable formative experience that trains students how to deal with life in the real world. Simply put, there are fewer safeguards to shelter college students than there were in high school. Parents play a much smaller role, the bulk of responsibility falling on the students themselves. College professors are also less concerned with the plight of students; if a student is not doing the required work, there most likely will not be any inquiry by the professor into why the assignments are not being done. The student will simply fail the course.
Although it is not a total “sink or swim” situation, college students definitely get a much bigger taste of what it is like to have total control over one’s life. This can certainly be considered an advantage of attending college rather than simply leaving home to enter the work force.
While there certainly are compelling arguments in favor of condemning college as a waste of time and money, these do not apply to everyone. There are, and always will be, people who try to take professors that are an easy ‘A.’ But, in the end, they are the ones who do not get anything out of college. If a student takes college seriously and takes the right classes, then college is worth it for him.
So, in the end, critics who say college is not worth it may very well be right in some cases. The catch is that it simply depends on the person. The true question here is not whether college is worth the time and money, but what the students do to make the experience worth it.