Aarju Patel Professor Quirk UCWR:110 28 October 2016 Who Really Should Attend College In the most recent debates regarding higher education, a particular issue of whether a liberal arts education can benefit students is relentless. While most people directly connect a liberal arts education to a bright future in terms of a career, others argue against that. On one hand, Sanford J. Ungar strongly believes that despite some hardships that come along with college, everyone should take the opportunity to go.
On the other hand, Charles Murray, Stephanie Owen, and Isabel Sawhill suggest that it can depend in terms of money and only those that are academically capable and enjoy learning should attend college. My view is that although some students don’t have the academic ability to attend college, the experience helps students develop critical skills that a k-8 education would never be able to provide. In “Should Everyone Go to College? ” Stephanie Owen and Isabel Sawhill focus on the financial aspects when looking at if attending college is worth it.
Owen and Sawhill explain that it is important to look at the rate of return on education. Contrary to popular belief, one cannot simply predict his or her earnings after college just based on what they hope to be is their occupation in the future. Factors such as the cost of the institution and number of years to attend college play a major role in the net benefit of attending college (Owen and Sawhill 210).
Owen and Sawhill claim that not all degrees are equal. Through their research they found that it is possible that people with only high school diplomas earn just as much as people with bachelor’s degrees (Owen and Sawhill 17). However, they also found that in each category of occupations, the people that earned more were the most educated. Backing up their research, Owen and Sawhill conclude that while college is an essential way of life, it all comes down to occupation and degree when determining if it is worth it. Owen and Sawhill leave readers thinking about the financial factors of college when determining if it is worth it, however they fail to mention the true meaning behind college.
I agree that money is significantly important when most parents look at where to send their children to college, however it shouldn’t be the deciding factor of if the student attends or not. If everyone looked at the value of college through the lens of Owen and Sawhill, it would discourage a lot of students who don’t have the academic abilities to attend college. Most students would reach the mind set of “since I’m not academically ready to attend college, then it would be a waste of money to earn a degree”.
Disregarding academic ability, I believe college teaches all students how to live on their own and make responsible choices. These are the qualities that make students street smart in order to live in the real world. Not only that but I believe Owen and Sawhill views would bring up an issue that already seems to be happening in the modern world of higher education. Owen and Sawhill incorporate an important topic when they discuss the value of different degrees. “We see that just not all college degrees are equal, neither are all high school diplomas” (Owen and Sawhill 216).
Meaning getting a degree in one occupation, doesn’t mean will result in the same pay as getting a degree in another. I agree with Owen and Sawhill up to this point but if everyone saw this as their number one priority, then it could possibly bring up a major issue. A lot of college students currently choose their majors based off what they feel will give them the most money in the future. This not only results in them stuck with an occupation they highly dislike but a lot of the times they are not good at it.
For example, it takes an intense amount of hard work in order to become a doctor owever, many students that don’t have an interest in the sciences nor have the academic ability to pursue this occupation are still choosing this field. The focus of an college education completely shifts as a result because what used to be an open window for new experiences and learning whatever students want, has become something students only look for because they know it will earn them money. Instead, if these students that may be not academically prepared to choose such an intense occupation chose what they truly desire, then it would make them much more successful in the future.
These views of Owen and Sawhill are addressed in Sanford J. Ungar’s essay as well. In his essay, “The New Liberal Arts”, Sanford J. Ungar supports the liberal arts by explaining common misperceptions that the liberal arts education typically receives. Ungar mentions that people start questioning the relevance of a liberal arts education when they are struggling economically. He demonstrates the various misconceptions of liberal arts people have, for example he claims that liberal arts degrees are not only exclusive to the wealthy.
While many families are struggling financially, one way to turn that around in the future is through a liberal arts degree. Ungar admits that due to the government’s tremendous lack of spending on the system of education, many people feel as if they cannot afford college. While college can cost a fortune, Ungar believes that it is worth it for every individual to go through because as a result students will be able to live on their own and life will be easier now that they have skills that higher education provided them.
Ungar’s message is that college’s purpose isn’t only to earn a degree but it is much more than that. “Through immersion in liberal arts, students learn not just to make a living, but also to live a life rich in values and character” (Ungar 232). To reiterate, Ungar is saying that the skills that college gives students are skills that are not only useful in their careers but also the rest of their lives. Ungar addresses a misconception that Stephanie Owen and Isabel Sawhill tend to have when he continues to stand by his argument that although college is expensive, it is worth it for everyone.
While Owen and Sawhill argue that college may not be worth it for some people who cannot afford it, Ungar says that college should not be exclusive to anyone. I agree with Ungar’s points regarding his argument that college’s purpose is more than just to gain a degree and that there is much more value to it. The experience is what makes college worth it for everyone. That being said, it shouldn’t be exclusive to those who can afford it and those who are academically capable. College is a place where it can make students who are not academically prepared, to students that are prepared because of the many resources that it provides.
This is something that Charles Murray would strongly disagree with. “Are Too Many People Going to College? ” By Charles Murray, demonstrates the various flaws in a liberal arts education. Murray claims that the skills that many people develop in college should be learned through a person’s K-8 education. He labels this as the “core knowledge” that everyone should have. He believes that students should be learning more in their classes rather than repeating information which the k-8 system tends to do. Murray claims that if this core knowledge was to be taught in high school, then college would be unnecessary.
Murray also believes that if students were taught this core knowledge earlier, then it would be more effective because children like to learn more than adults. Society has developed this norm of going through college to get a BA and getting a job right away. Murray says that the social norms are modifying because people that have skills not learned through college are highly demanded now. Murray also discusses how a liberal arts education should not be four years long but rather two. With so many new advances in technology, Murray believes college shouldn’t be as long as it is because now everything can be done online (Murray 244).
Murray makes some strong points when it comes to how the education system should be set up but doesn’t see that college provides skills that can’t be taught elsewhere. The fact that computers allow us to connect with our professors fast and efficiently making it possible to take classes online. Another intriguing but arguable point he makes is that skills that are typically developed in college should be taught in k-8 education. While it is proven that children learn and memorize things easier than adults, some of these skills can’t possibly taught in a k-8 education.
How can learning how to manage time and make responsible choices be taught in elementary and middle school? In high school for example, there is a set schedule in which each student has to go by. In college, classes are not structured and students have to learn how to manage if they don’t have enough time to do certain things or how to use extra time efficiently. It is only the experience of college that allows one to live and learn these essential skills. While almost anyone would agree how pleasant it would be if college was shorter so they could start their careers earlier, the extra years are critical in order to thrive in the real world.
While college is gradually getting more expensive and jobs are getting more competitive, it is important to look at the different point of views people have on this subject. People like Sawhill and Owen believe that for some people, it wouldn’t be worth going to college considering how expensive it is. Others such as Ungar, believe that although oftentimes it is hard to manage financially when it comes to college, it will be worth it in the end for everyone.
Murray however, has a problem in the number of years that college entails and strongly suggests that it should be shorter. While I think it is necessary to listen to other points of views such as these, I still believe that college is overall a safe choice to make in order gain a bright future. That four years are necessary to gain certain skills but also academically. These are factors that a K-8 education can never provide. Works Cited Graff, Gerald, Cathy Birkenstein, Russel Durst, and Charles Murray. “Art To Manny People Going to College? ” They Say | Say.