What Is the Point in College?

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Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and Steve Jobs share two important facts. Firstly, all are among the worlds richest people. Secondly, all of them dropped out of college. An average high school graduate would then be trying hard to convince themselves that joining college is pertinent to their lives without success. The primary role of college in the contemporary society is to proffer students with a credential, which is a measure of their worth in the society. According to Morehouse (2015), the credential serves to signal the working world that the owners of the credentials are a step further than those that do not. The credential is important in securing jobs and the subsequent income so that one can provide for his or her family. This statement is paradoxical and confusing given the examples above. However, it is noteworthy that Bill Gates, Zuckerberg, and Steve Jobs all created their own jobs. Therefore, the value and significance of college education diminish further at the thought that one has to go to college to earn credentials and secure a job in a company of someone who dropped out of college. Such kind of counterintuitive operation and belief of the modern society is the reason most students doubt the value of going to college. While the acquisition of the credential may be meaningless economically, it is highly intellectually significant, that is, if the societal worth is measured intellectually rather than economically. Evidently, while attending college is completely necessary, the modern societal approach is wrong and misleading given the economic status of people such as Steve Jobs.

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While basing its premises on the projected economic prosperity connected with education, the U.S cultural attitude towards colleges has given rise to several for-profit colleges and trade schools (Goodman, 2010). Across the country, college institutions training students for careers such as food service, health care, and computers have mushroomed with soaring enrollments. With the prospects of landing dream jobs after graduation, prospective students borrow as much as $30,000 annually to pay for their tuition. It is agreeable that these colleges reap big while failing to live up to their expectations. This statement is debatable since most of the colleges were set up with a view to exploit the cultural cracks in the society, such as the belief that education is a source of future income, to make money. However, these colleges have been criticized for exaggerating the financial value of their degree programs. Goodman (2010), notes that the colleges promise the students middle-class wages while leaving them trapped in untenable debts, destitution, and low-wage professions. Overall, these college institutions amass more federal student aid money, thus, growing rich by the day while setting up the society to poverty. The result is a lot of hopeless graduates who cannot find meaningful work with huge debt burdens.

Arguably, college education is important, but the current societal and cultural beliefs make it seem worthless. One importance of going to college is getting more opportunity through intellectual worthiness. Borrowing from the examples given at the onset of the discussion, the intellectuality drawn from college education is important in ones opportunity for the society rather than scampering for the few already created opportunities. The intellectual skills from a college-level education are critical in assisting a person to discover and develop his or her skills and talents. This leads to increased creativity and innovativeness, which are crucial factors in creating job opportunities for ones society. In this manner, people will be expanding opportunities both for them and for their society. According to Gutting (2011), 74% of the graduates in one of the studies acknowledged that college education was instrumental in building the intellectual capabilities, but has done the least in ensuring they have an economically stable life. This illustrates the least emphasized concept of societal worth based on intellect. On the other hand, college education is still important when the concept is defined based on economic stability. In the modern society, high school graduates have fewer opportunities and are highly unlikely to land high-paying jobs than college graduates. Without the college credentials, one may be stuck in one job for the rest of his or her life and miss the much-needed opportunity to provide for his or her family sufficiently. For instance, the U.S.A has shifted from a manufacturing-based to a knowledge-based economy. Thus, college education serves as a bridge to more opportunities and better options. Even so, justifying the need for college based on future economic prosperity links back to intellectuality, which the modern society has given the least focus. The knowledge-based nature of most of the jobs and employment opportunities makes it requisite for one to put intellect before economic prosperity since, without the former, the latter will be non-existent. Evidently, college is entirely important, but the societal approach is the major undoing in the justification of its importance. The society has placed more emphasis on the future economic prosperity to the detriment of intellectuality, which may translate to more opportunities and increased economic prosperity.

Williams (2012) posits that college education is training for managerial work, which the economy no longer requires, but which also happens to be the cultural belief that underpins the existence of the colleges. Since most of the colleges are founded on the societal projection of a bright economic future for the learners, they churn out thousands of students each year with managerial skills flooding the market. As a result, most of the college graduates remain jobless or land jobs that are less meaningful to them. Thus, while some opt to remain unemployed for failing to realize their dreams as promised by the college education, some of them fail to secure jobs due to the large number of graduates from various colleges annually. The large number of unemployed and hopeless graduates in the society cunningly lends credibility to the insignificance of college education, while the underlying problem comes from the cultural belief. In essence, the importance of practical skills outweighs the theoretical understanding that colleges proffer (Gutting, 2011). The author adds that the support for college education is particularly quintessential if we uphold intellectuality over economic prosperity in the society.

The bottom line is college education is entirely essential. However, its contribution is overshadowed by the misplaced cultural belief in the economic prosperity rather than intellectual aspects of the education. Arguably, the latter reveals this importance more than the former. Otherwise, economic prosperity is attainable through several other means apart from college education. Counterintuitively, all these means of attaining economic prosperity require high levels of intellectuality, which the college education happens to build. Colleges and universities cease to exude meaning the moment we value the outcome, economic prosperity while ignoring the means, intellectuality, through which such outcomes are achieved.


Goodman, P. (2010, March 13). In Hard Times, Lured into Trade School and Debt. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/14/business/14schools.html?pagewanted=all

Gutting, G. (2011, December 14). What is College For? The New York Times. Retrieved from http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/12/14/what-is-college-for/?_r=0

Williams, A. (2012, November 30). Saying No to College. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/02/fashion/saying-no-to-college.html

Morehouse, I. (2015, August 11). The Credential Is Killing the Classroom. Fee. Retrieved from https://fee.org/articles/the-credential-is-killing-the-classroom/

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