The Necessity of Higher Education
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Politics and Activism

The Necessity of Higher Education

The truth about college and what it has to offer.

The Necessity of Higher Education
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Let me start off by saying that the higher education system is not perfect, in fact it is far from it. It is constantly gouging students in costs and sub-costs, and can sometimes be envisioned as a social experience or haven of horrid philosophies and ideals. College compiles an enormous amount of stress, work, and interactions, which often prove overbearing for even above average students. However there is some value in what college has to offer.

College is a waste…

Two things on this subject… People will make the assertion that “you don’t need a college degree to follow your dreams.” Well, yes and no…. If you plan on entering the areas of politics, art, some of athletics, or some of business then you do not need a college degree. But for almost any other profession some variation of degree is required. Realistically it should make sense, an education in the area of your profession should be required for above average skilled occupations. College is not the end to your dream; it is simply a stepping-stone.

Secondly, some will say that college is an intellectual prison, that it was too easy, or that the opportunity cost of attending class takes away from real world experience. If college is an intellectual prison, then you are thinking of college wrong. College has a plethora of philosophies, ideas, and cultures to experience either in an academic setting or a social one, so you are either intellectually arrogant or generally lazy if you conceive college as a prison. Socrates was once quoted, “All I know is that I know nothing.” This philosophy implies that one can always learn something new no matter the circumstance. One must first admit that they can learn, before telling others how to learn. Now concerning real world experience, most degree paths involve real world experiences in the program. Whether it is hands-on work at a job site, science experiments in a lab, or trips to businesses and firms, college does in fact offer real world experience; to say otherwise is an illusion to the facts.

Some will challenge the processes of college and the systems installed in the multi-year process. Yet these same people have failed to offer any realistic solutions to their problem. In all honesty I do not know of a better system. It is a given that it is not perfect, but nothing in inherently perfect in this world. Some of the system works because most college classrooms offer students something not previously offered to them up until that point, the opportunity to think critically. Whether people agree with this point or not is irrelevant. College gives students the opportunity to think for themselves and embrace their own worldview; now whether or not they act upon that opportunity is entirely up to them.

Lastly, some will emotionally summarize that college is a waste, and that you should follow your dreams, your ideals, and your creativity without bound to any systematically encouraged institution. In short this is a very idealistic philosophy, and idealism can lead to very dangerous ideas. To ignore the systems set into place would be irresponsible both to the student and the marketplace. The ideal of “you do not need college” only applies to a very small selection of students. In this case of higher education one must be realistic, if one implores idealism it will only lead to a place of disaster.

The value of a degree…

Some will question the value of a college degree. Now what it means to them is entirely subjective. But what it means in the marketplace is entirely objective. It is true that we have a surplus of degree holders, however this does not mean your degree is useless. There is still a standard in the marketplace. If you entered a market hoping to obtain a job, which requires a degree, and do not have one then you will not be considered. If I walk into an Army recruiter and insist in swearing in as an officer, the recruiter will simply laugh in my face and show me where to sign to enlist as a private. Now this military example can be carried over to almost any marketplace, with the same results. Even if you have immense value and ideas to bring to a company, your voice will simply be washed out by all of the other competing job seekers, because you aren’t even on the same playing field as they are. In the marketplace the value of a degree is entirely objective, you either have possession of one, or you don’t. If you do not, then the marketplace will treat you and your opinion as such. Now like everything else there will be exceptions, but not as often as you would think. This is the undeniable truth about the marketplace, however unfortunate it may be. But the degree doesn't stop there, it's also the application of the cognitive objectivity to ones own interests in order to form opinions and pursue hypotheses.

College as an experience…

I can tell you first hand that college is truly an “experience.” College allows a person to evolve their worldview, their social interactions, their academic accomplishments, and their intellectual capabilities. College probes and tests a person’s ability to recognize stress and success, how to critically think, and above all how to be responsible in every action taken. The experience of college really does act as a stepping-stone into ones adulthood, if experienced correctly.

The simple facts... reports, "A report from earlier this year looked at earnings of Millennials (those born after 1980) who usually worked full-time in 2012. Among that group, workers with at least a bachelor’s degree had median annual earnings of $45,500, well over the medians for people with only some college ($30,000) or a high-school diploma ($28,000). The gap has widened over the years and across the generations: In 1965, when the members of the Silent Generation were 25 to 34 years old, median earnings for high-school graduates were 81% of those for college graduates; in 2013, among the Millennials, it was 61.5%." The report continues, "The same Pew Research report found that majorities of graduates in all three of the largest U.S. generations — Boomers, Gen-Xers and Millennials — agree that college either has paid off or will pay off, given what they and their families invested in it. Perhaps not surprisingly, the highest-earning graduates were the most positive about their educations — 98% of those making six figures and up said their degree had paid off, compared with 63% of graduates earning less than $50,000. Similarly, people with advanced degrees were even more likely than bachelor’s and associate’s degree holders to say their education was worth the investment — 96%, compared with 89% and 76%, respectively." The government has even chimed in with

saying, "In today’s economy, higher education is no longer a luxury for the privileged few, but a necessity for individual economic opportunity and America’s competitiveness in the global economy. At a time when jobs can go anywhere in the world, skills and education will determine success, for individuals and for nations. As a result, college education remains the best investment a student can make in his or her future." concluded that:

  • College graduates with a bachelor’s degree typically earn 66 percent more than those with only a high school diploma; and are also far less likely to face unemployment.
  • Over the course of a lifetime, the average worker with a bachelor’s degree will earn approximately $1 million more than a worker without a postsecondary education.
  • By 2020, an estimated two-thirds of job openings will require postsecondary education or training.

My thoughts…

I see higher education as a necessity, but not a necessity for everybody. People will say, “College is not for everyone,” and this is true. Not everybody is cut out for college. But one has to be realistic in deciding whether or not it is necessary to accomplish their goal. With many more professions requiring a degree than not, it is important to see college as an aid to their goal, and not an idealistic or pessimistic hindrance to their opportunity cost or future. One has to be willing and eager to learn and evolve intellectually and not disregard all other philosophies and ideas besides their own. It is of the upmost importance that students be realistic when wrestling with the idea of college, because idealism will surely lead to an unwanted path.


Whether you decide on attending college or not is entirely up to you as an individual. Don’t make an idealistic blind decision based upon dreams and unfound fiction. Know that college is not a waste, but a truly amazing experience; it is not a lost opportunity cost, but a successful stop on your path to your future. In the end college or the degree it offers will never define you, only you define you, so use college to its fullest, and succeed at whatever it is you want to accomplish.

Acknowledgments- Patrick B., Josh F., Caleb E.




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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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