College is (still) worth it

November 1, 2011

Political Theory


A lot of questions (complaints, mostly) usually surround the debate about whether college is worth the money, given how much it costs. The question is understandable. Over the past decade, private college tuition and fees have risen 70 percent, more than twice the rate of inflation, according to the College Board. Public college tuition and fees have doubled in the same timeframe.

However, while college debt has proven to be a chokehold financially for a large population, a four-year degree is still great insurance, especially within this competitive job market. Unemployment rate for people with a bachelor’s degree or higher was 4.5 percent in July, compared to 10.1 percent for those with only a high school diploma. In a study reported by the Economix section of the New York Times, a worker who obtains a professional degree will receive median annual earnings nearly four times those of a worker with just a high school diploma. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that median weekly earnings for a person with a bachelor’s degree was $1,025 in 2009, compared with just $626 for those with only a high school diploma.

In addition, college should not just be measured in job satisfaction, but also should be documented through the roll it plays in personal development. There are countless intangible benefits students can get out of college. Ranging from friends and connections to an appreciation of subjects like art and philosophy, these benefits are never depicted within a chart or a poll.

What would the great political theorist think about this phenomenon? It seems to answer this question, one must take in the social and educational norms during these theorist’s eras. For someone like Hobbes, education led to pursuing a process of socialization, or of moral education. Likewise, Locke believed education provides the character formation necessary for becoming a person and for being a responsible citizen. Would most other theorist believe these claims?

Overall, the question surrounding the importance of education is a topic that is gaining more and more publicity. Here, I hope people can list their feelings on this ongoing affair.

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5 Comments on “College is (still) worth it”

  1. bmazus Says:

    I certainly agree with the main idea of your post. While prices of college tuition have continued to skyrocket over the years there is no doubting that a college education has been, and always will be one of the surest investment a person can make for their future. What I do question is what warrants the cost of college tuitions growing at a quicker rate than that of the inflation rate over the past decade? Over the past decade has the quality of education gotten that much better that a severe increase in the price of college tuition (even higher than the increase in the inflation rate) is warranted? One could argue that some of the best professors, at the best universities, in our country have been around for well over a decade and that the quality of education may not have gotten that much better in the past ten years. While this may be true what must be pointed out is that the value of a college education has been on a significant rise for more than ten years, and the recent recession has helped further prove this point. Not only has this continuously been exemplified in statistics like the ones you have shown, but it has become a cultural norm in the United States that when a student graduates from high school, they are supposed to go to college. It is as though people lose respect for someone who only graduates from high school, and for whatever reason does not go to college. Universities are simply capitalizing on something it knows is a necessity to Americans.

  2. jrmeller Says:

    I completely agree with the points you make in your post. Yes, while tuition rates are still on a steady incline, the value of a college degree holds greater worth than just money. For starters, as you mentioned, it’s imperative for individuals to obtain at least a bachelor’s. As the concept of higher education as developed over time, we have reached a point in time where having more than a bachelor’s degree is imperative to finding higher paying jobs. But there’s more to college than just getting a degree. Going to college allows individuals to experience the world and open their minds to new ideas. The age old cliché about “finding yourself” in college may be overplayed, but it’s the truth. I know from a personal standpoint I changed my major three times before settling with one that I really wanted. While some might chalk that up being indecisive and confused. I would argue and say that it was because I kept finding something new that excited me and peaked my interests. All that is available to a student at any university is drastically important, and allows them free reign of all the academia offered to them. Additionally, college allows students to expand socially. They can make new friends, experience new types of people, and create a niche that is exciting and comfortable. Expanding one’s horizons is vital to developing into a multidimensional person, and while the cost to do so may be high and difficult to afford, it cannot be replaced and no individual should be deprived of such an opportunity.

  3. bmauto21 Says:

    I agree that while college is getting more expensive, it is undoubtedly worth it. MY father always said, “no one can take your diploma away from you.” In an economy where many things remain uncertain, there is a way to give yourself a boost in order to be successful financially. That boost is to have at least n undergraduate college education if not even higher education such as law school, or medical school. Most companies today will look at GPA and what school a person has graduated and weigh that in heavily when deciding whether to offer a person a job. A company such as Google checks a persons college GPA and they will not hire someone who falls below what they want. Therefore in the long run, it is still worth it going to college, and there are ways to even help students who can not afford it.

  4. euriosti Says:

    I think the price of attending college should definitely sway a student’s decision in which institution they decide to attend. All degrees hold a different worth in the job market, and therefore the cost of the degree should be considered. Some financially pressed students may desire to go to college, but are unsure of their career path. It would make financial sense to attend a community college or a cheaper university, while the student figures out their career goals. Other students may know exactly what they want to do, and would benefit from attending a prestigious university. If you know that your future salary will be able to quickly erase your college debt, then attending an expensive, prestigious university would definitely be worth the money. However, spending a fortune to earn a degree, and doing nothing with it in the future makes little sense. There is no reason to financially stress yourself to just have a degree from a prestigious university. You can get a good education anywhere, and it is important to consider the value of your degree when deciding which school you attend.

  5. tylerhoffman1 Says:

    The author of this post brings up some interesting topics. He mentions that although college is important for job satisfaction and financial earnings, college brings other benefits such as personal development, new friends and other things such as appreciation for different types of art and expression. While these intangible benefits are important, learning skills for use in the job market is of utmost importance, or at least it used to be. In Menand’s article Live and Learn, he talks about how college is different than in the past and the rising cost of attending a 4 year college or university may not be worth it to some. He explains that some students would be better suited to have a purely vocational education that could directly help them in the job marketplace instead of having a strong liberal arts education that may very well have less focus. The benefits of having a stronger vocational education could help students enter the working world at a quicker pace and have less debt when doing so. It seems to me that these inflated costs of attending a 4 year college/university is largely due to increased liberal art degrees that some may find useless when compared to a vocational degree.

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