“Help! I’ve fallen and I can’t reach the value of my college education.”
More and more Americans are going to college, but is it actually worth it? Yesterday I met a guy who most would consider to be extremely intelligent and successful. At age 15, he had skipped two whole grades and graduated from high school. By the age of 24, he had become an alumnus of the prestigious University of Michigan Law School. I waited for him to tell how great his life was as a lawyer at a top law firm. However, to my surprise, he was struggling to find a job. Being in my senior year, I began to question my fate post graduation: what is the point of my college education? Would this university fail me too? Coincidentally, my Political Science 101 course had just discussed the political theory of college.
Much like the student in our reading, Live and Learn by Louis Menand, I wanted to know if owing thousands of dollars in loans would guarantee realistic benefits. Unfortunately, according to Business Insider, an estimated 85% of college students could be wasting their time and money on getting a college degree, only to end up unemployed. Some experts would, therefore, say you should skip college and go straight to the workforce. Knowing this, why do countless high school students still choose to enroll in college? This forced me to find an answer to my initial question. And then it hit me; it is not the institution of college that has failed us students, but rather the economy.
As Menand pointed out, a college degree has long been, and still is, an indication of one’s status in society. In the 1940’s, attending a university would grant you with opportunities. Whether it was networking with the elite or becoming a well-rounded citizen, “college was central to the experience of making it-not only financially but socially and personally”. The same remains today. However, because our society has experienced one of the biggest economic recessions since the great depression, with little recovery, this leverage does not apply to all college graduates. Fortune 500 companies have gone bankrupt. College degree holding employees have been laid off and forced to compete with others for low waged jobs. With the unemployment rate peaking at 9.6 million people, there is a high demand for work but not enough money to pay workers. A college degree has little value. However, even if most college graduates are unable to find a job, they are still more likely to be hired than someone without a degree.
Upon the economy rising, importance will be placed on attending college again. Under the theory of meritocracy, graduates of prestigious institutions with a high G.P.A will be rewarded through high-salary careers. Additionally, students will have the autonomy to choose a more diverse set of courses, making them more knowledgeable citizens.
Ultimately, the purpose of a college education is unchanging. Although it may take a few more years, college graduates will receive the “return on their investment” and attaining the American Dream won’t seem so impossible. Let’s face it, how far can the average citizen get with out a college degree?