Value of Education
College education has become a controversial subject in the recent past considering the divergent opinions that parents, teachers and students have had on higher learning. Scholars have also been dragged into the shifting opinion on higher learning, and through research, they have written so much about the changing perspectives on higher education. While parents and students have come to view higher education as a means of acquiring plum jobs, others see it as a place for inactive intellectual expression and growth, which should be given more attention in order to bring out its full potential from its status as a means of obtaining employment.
In the article, ‘’what is College for?’’ New York Times’, Gary Gutting argues that colleges are much more than pots for training individuals who are seeking jobs. According to him, the purpose for a college is ‘’to nourish a world of intellectual culture: that is, a world of ideas, dedicated to what we can scientifically know, understand humanistically, or express artistically’’ (Gutting). This is a thought echoed by Rosenbaum, Stephan and Rosenbaum, who say that colleges have much more to offer than just bachelors peddled around (Rosenbaum et al, 3).
The three further point out that a lot of misinformation to the purposes and results of college are distributed by both colleges. According to them, they state of the exaggerated claims on the future of successful graduates and a consideration of BA plans by both parents and students without knowing about the possibilities and well satisfying alternatives (Rosenbaum et al. 3). This thought is also shared by Gutting on the availability of other options other than bachelor programs that offer better results unlike college programs. The key argument is, ‘’we could provide job-training and basic social and moral formation for young adults in a way that is cheaper and efficient. This may be through a combination of professional and trade schools, and public service programs’’ (Gutting). If the aim of college is only preparing students for jobs, thus, other options remain widely open for them, and not within the intellectual environment that is offered by colleges.
Over the years, there has been an increase in the number of students pursuing college education. Much of this is attributed to the encouragement of the open admissions policy that protects low-achieving students from being discouraged by counselors (Rosenbaum et al. 5). This results into a completely low number of college graduates from these students. Besides, the experience becomes totally unfit for these students who are eventually disengaged from the material that they are expected to be studying (Gutting). Thus, while the college admissions may be increasing quickly, with the cost of college also being a determinant on how easy it is for students to register into college, the entire college experience is doubtfully unfulfilling for students who ‘’spend only as much time as they require to get grades that seem to be appealing to them’’ (Gutting).
The main disparity between Rosenbaum, Stephan and Rosenbaum’s and Gutting’s opinion on higher education is the students’ perspective about higher learning. According to Gutting, a survey of graduates reveal that 74% find college useful for their intellectual growth, 69% consider is as important for their growth and maturity as people while 55% showed that college is important in preparing them for their careers and jobs (Gutting). In contrast, Rosenbaum, Stephan and Stephan point out that most students, under the open admission program, go to college fully prepared for higher learning. This lack of preparedness results from the fact that ‘’high school students are rarely offered proper information concerning what college requires, how prepared they are, and what actions would ensure that they are prepared’’ (Rosenbaum et al. 7).
The difference in their opinions however, does not take on the definition of college education. On the other hand, Gutting does not define college education as either BA or AA. For the three, the definition of college however, remains tied to BA programs. According to Rosenbaum, Stephan and Rosenbaum, ‘’in everyday language and informal policy discussions, the word ‘’college’’ is used as a synonym for ‘’bachelor’s degree’’ (Rosenbaum et al. 3).
With the definition of college as only an institution that provides BA programs, many parents remain expectant of their children’s pursuit of college degrees. Even with the increasing expenses in taking children to college, parents continuously commit most of their efforts in college education. These parents’ expectations is that after graduation, their children will have secured their future since ‘’Bachelor’s degrees have a million-dollar payoff in lifetime earnings’’ (Rosenbaum et al. 3). This expectation surfaces when the truth is that people who hold jobs that require AAs end up earning much more than those with Bas. This misconception (BA being more profitable in earning compared to AA) has been propagated by public advertisements literature on educational reform as well as guidance and counseling.
The misconception about BA being greater than AA has been impacted by failures in the guidance and counseling program. While the program was aimed at guiding the students in programs that were ultimately within their ability, this has changed over time, especially with the introduction of open admission programs. The guidance and counseling program had largely acted as college gatekeepers, barring students with low grades from obtaining college admission (Rosenbaum et al. 5). Most of the counselors have since protested their placement as gatekeepers. This impacts a proliferation of students into college, some of whom eventually fail to graduate from college (Gutting).
However, the change in the opinions of counselors is a deeply rooted problem in high schools. A good number of high schools are in dire need of counselors since many do not have them. Rosenbaum et al argue that, ‘’data from 2001 reveal that, averagely, the ratio of counselors to students is 1 to 284’’ (5). The situation is even worse in some other schools where a single counselor has to handle more than 700 students. Such a huge workload does not help in assisting the students to make better decisions on whether or not to pursue college education based on their intellectual capability.
The growing number of students joining college is a good indication of academic achievement. However, the insistence on BA programs even for students who are unable to achieve such high academic grades does not put in more effort towards helping students in making career choices. The failure of academic counseling programs is a worrying issue and this should be corrected immediately in order to save the college program and assist students in making the best choices on the careers to pursue.
Gutting, Gary. “What is College For?” The New York Times, 2011, December 14. Web. 3 February 2014.
Rosenbaum, James, E. “Beyond One-Size-Fits-All College Dreams.” American Educator, 2010.