Window Featuring the Liberal Arts - Rollins College, Winter Park Florida
There is a odd debate going on in our society that a college education is not a good idea. There are arguments that college or university degree is unnecessary, does little for a person and simply costs too much. As someone who has earned (and paid for) two degrees, I have to disagree for the most part. Now let me start with my agreement, not everyone has what it takes to finish a college degree. There was a movement to try to make a university education as universal as high school and honestly there are high school graduates who don't have what it takes. Some of them are poorly prepared, by school systems that passed them through without expecting much from them. If the have the ability, they can earn a college degree, but they have to be committed to learning what is missing in the basic skill set. Some are simply not smart enough to complete a college education. I know all men are created equal, but not all have the same abilities. A college education should require a higher then average level of intelligence to finish and not everyone has what it takes.
Some will argue that many jobs don't require a college degree. Take for example a paint and body mechanic who repairs and repaints cars. A few months of trade school or a couple of years working with a good mentor and many people can learn the skills that are necessary to perform this work. Given the choice of hiring the applicant with an art history degree and couple of year's apprenticeship, or the applicant with a high school education and a year in a trade school, I am going to hire the one with the art history degree. Why, when a customer asks for a clean modern red paint scheme, or something in an impressionist blue, the person with the art history degree is going to know what they are talking about. The person with the art history degree will understand why purple with yellow accents works, but purple with orange accents does not.
A person with a better education, who is ready and willing to seek out and take the jobs that they are capable of, should earn more then a person without the education. Most of the people who complain about having a "worthless" degree are unwilling to go where the jobs are, or take jobs that are available. They are not willing to accept the change. There are some schools that are overpriced. A solid education from an affordable state school, probably has a better return on investment then a degree from a private institution that cost twice as much. (My BA is from a small private liberal arts college - I paid for it - it was expensive. My JD is from a state school and cost less then what my BA did and rewarded me with better earnings capacity.)
Higher education changed me as a person. I learned to understand myself. I learned to think outside of my life experience. I learned to see other perspectives. I learned that no matter how difficult a task, if I dig deep and apply myself, I can do it. There were some concepts that were a struggle, not all brains are wired the same, but if I work at it I can do a good job on most and a passable job on those that are the biggest reach for me. I was not well prepared from high school to go into college. Early intervention by a community college professor, who I owe a HUGE thank you to, helped me to understand some of the oddities of my brain and the areas of basic skills that I needed to work on, still have to work on. I did well in college and law school, in part because I worked very-very hard, I have a very strong fear of failure. It might have helped that I was paying for it and knew it was my money on the line.
I do think that anyone who has the ability, should earn a college degree. As s country we need to do more to make college accessible to those with the ability and desire.