For most people my age, the mantra our whole lives has been, “Do well in school, go to college and you can have a better life.”
Although the Occupy Movement has faded somewhat from the media eye, the underlying resentment and anger regarding college debt remains.
Thousands of students, many of whom owe hundreds of thousands in debt, feel like they’ve been sold a bill of goods. They were always told if they go to college they can get a job.
There are myriad schools of higher learning prospective students can choose, with varying prestige levels and price tags.
But there’s a problem: too many student’s ideas about what college confers upon them is plainly false. College does not bring about some magic transfer of skill and marketability by osmosis, just being on campus.
We may agree that everyone has a right to learn and the high cost of college is a barrier to entry for some, if not many students.
Solutions vary regarding how to deal with this issue with the Occupiers insisting that college is an inalienable right and ought to be paid for by our government like some European countries.
Unfortunately for them, that won’t help. Just going to college isn’t enough, something many recent graduates are finding.
Saddled with thousands in debt, grads are searching and failing to find jobs to cover the costs they’ve incurred.
This thought-provoking article from the National Review suggests that colleges ought to be held accountable, not for their burgeoning costs, but for their lack of productivity.
In other words, colleges aren’t giving students the skills they need to succeed. Students are leaving college believing a degree should be their golden ticket to the field of their choosing.
The conclusion of that essay gets to the heart of this issue,
The semi-literate sloganizing of our own Occupy Wall Street mobs recalls the distinction that Milton Friedman often made between those who are educated and those who have simply been in schools. Generating more such people, in the name of expanding education, may serve the interests of the Obama administration, but it hardly serves the interests of America.
His point is that expanding education doesn’t do anything to solve the problems our society faces, at least not in the way the Occupiers want.
Handing out thousands of dollars for students to go to school does nothing to enhance the pool of qualified job applicants.
This is where the liberal’s least favorite phrase comes in: personal responsibility.
It’s up to students to determine the value of their education. Is my education worth enough to me to try my hardest in high school, understanding that I need a scholarship to pay for college.
Is my education worth it to me if I leave school with $80,000 in debt to work for $30,000 a year.
These cost/benefit analyses aren’t part of the average 18 year-old’s thinking and frankly, not enough parents have the common sense to explain that to their children before they take that leap of financial faith.
Take a look at this list of the most studied areas from the top earners in the United States. The majority of these fields are specific, focused areas with clear realms of transition to the job market.
If you graduate with a physiology degree, there’s a defined path of jobs and a salary worth making a major college investment.
This idea that you’re somehow owed something because you have a college degree, or that you somehow deserve a college degree is as misguided as going to Amhurst and taking out loans to pay for your $40,000 a year on an English degree.
It’s the responsibility of a college to offer students the chance to learn. Most colleges have extensive job placement programs and counselors, as well as experienced staff who can help prepare students for the real world.
On the other hand, it’s not the responsibility of the school to hold the hand of each student, making sure they have what they need to join the work force. Plenty of students go to college just to go and have no intention of using their degree.
Each of us have a responsibility to ourselves to be responsible for our own decisions and how they affect our financial future. It’s not the school’s fault, nor is it the government’s fault.
You’re not entitled to a college degree, but you’re entitled to decide whether or not you’re worth getting one.