Value of Education
In today’s society, a college degree is believed to be an entrance ticket to a well-paid and prestigious job because many companies require a bachelor’s degree as a pre-requisite. However, higher education remains a controversial topic because the post-recession economy does not provide all college graduates with high-paid jobs. In the article “Are Too Many People Going to College?” Charles Murray argues that college education should not be for everybody because top skilled technicians without a degree earn more than mediocre managers holding a degree. This point of view is opposed by Freeman Hrabowski in the article “Colleges Prepare People for Life” who insists that there is a wide variety of colleges for any income and any intellectual ability and students can get a good education if they are counseled correctly. I did not change my view after I read the two assigned articles and I think a college degree is necessary for everyone in today’s society as it educates young people about history and social sciences and gives them fundamental knowledge in the field of their choice, which improves their chances for a well-paid job.
My first argument is that college education lays the moral and educational skeleton of an individual. Students study philosophy, ethics, literature, and other subjects from the field of liberal arts. It develops their ethical judgments; they learn how to tell right from wrong and what to do in difficult ethical situations. Higher education means to have an opportunity to learn culture and history of one’s country and cultivate one’s mind. A good education can let people know what they can or cannot do as well as give them a sense of propriety, justice, honesty, and honor. In “Colleges Prepare People for Life,” Hrabowski mentions Maryland civic leader Walter Sondheim who after he acquired a college degree did not really have any idea of his vocation but a good education eventually led him to become a civic leader in Maryland as he “advised mayors and governors, led desegregation of the city schools, and was an active leader for decades”. It shows that one should not rely on an immediate benefit of higher education such as a prestigious job but eventually the substantial moral and ethical foundation will help one find out one’s vocation.
My second argument is that society on the whole benefits from citizens who acquire a college degree because it means that they developed their critical thinking and are able to apply it to political and social situations in the country. They learn how social and political structures of the world function and it makes them more apt citizens who are able to make a conscious choice, for example, when voting. Getting a college degree requires a rigorous study and students have to use their mental abilities to the maximum. In the process of learning, young people get accurate and effective knowledge about the world. Reading, writing and thinking a lot students develop their thinking and creative abilities, and sharpen their problem-solving skills. As an example, I can say that personally I experience beneficial effects of critical thinking. After all these assignments I developed a habit to treat critically all information I come across. No longer do I accept in good faith everything I am told. I am confident that now I am a better citizen and I can vote, choose insurance, hear news, watch commercials and consume goods more consciously and with a better grounded choice than I used to.
Finally, college education helps young people get better jobs. A college degree is the first necessary condition those who apply for a job should have because employers view education as a screening device which filters out young people with lower intellectual abilities and less perseverance. Thus many companies sort applicants by their education degrees and those employees whose education is lower than the average are the first to be laid off. Furthermore, a good education can be a basis for promotion. Nowadays a bachelor’s degree has become a necessary condition and in many cases employers would not even look at a resume of an applicant without a B.A. Murray reports that around thirty percent of the young workforce hold a bachelor’s degree. It means that there is a high demand for college education and it would be very risky for young people to lose on opportunity for a good job. With today’s state of economy, a college degree is not a guarantee that I would get a job but without it I can be screened out from potentially promising jobs.
However, there are people who think that acquiring a college degree is not necessary. They think college education means nothing and instead these four years can be used more productively. One of the reasons why Murray advocates “college education is not for everyone” is annual income which is high only for top managerial jobs which are not numerous, whereas top blue-collar occupations are as well paid as an average white collar job. Murray compares mediocre managers with top technicians in the favor of the latter arguing that a very low percentile of employees is able to become top managers, so for a person who is good at the small-motor skills a blue-collar job is a better choice. Meanwhile these are very general arguments and in reality real people are more nuanced. For example, often young people are not very sure what they want to do in life and four years of rigorous study can guide them and at least fill their heads with useful general information. What if the student from the Murray example is not able to decide what he is good at? Then he can be either a mediocre electrician or a mediocre manager but in such a case manager earns more. Therefore, college education is still needed. I think that all people understand that education is a good and positive thing and develops one’s mind but overall people are lazy to pursue it on their own. I mean that if someone decides to skip college education and enter the workforce, she or he loses in terms of general knowledge and they will not have time to catch up. That is the reason why people need to study at college.
Education is important in people’s life because it lays the ground for their subsequent culture and intelligence. Also, the time spent in college gives students time to know themselves better and decide what they want to do in their life. Despite the fact that people acquire professional skills from practice, they still need theory in order to harden and temper their minds and develop critical thinking. I am confident that college education benefits everyone: both students and society. Students expand their worldview, meet many interesting people, and get ready for adult life; society gets well-educated and intelligent people able to make conscious choice and actively participate in the social life of the country; employers get young workers who are well-spoken, able-minded and persistent. Therefore, I believe that the government should focus on the task to provide college education for everyone. All stratum of society should get college education. Some can have only two-year college degree but it would greatly expand their minds. The government should take special care of poor people who would probably learn how to become more affluent if they were taught that.