My View: Should everyone go to college?
October 9th, 2012
04:20 AM ET

My View: Should everyone go to college?

Courtesy Tammy ReeseBy Mike Rose, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Mike Rose is an educator and author. His newest book is titled “Back to School: Why Everyone Deserves a Second Chance at Education.” He is on the faculty of the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies.

(CNN) - College changed my life, so when I think about the question of who should go to college, I can’t help but consider it through my own experience. And what I’ve learned from teaching over the past 40 years leads me to think that my experience is not all that unusual.

I was an average student through elementary school, good at reading (which saved me), horrible at math and flat-out hopeless at tasks such as diagramming sentences. I drifted through high school, never in big trouble, but not going anywhere either. Then in my senior year, a young, charismatic English teacher gave us a crash course in Western literature, Homer through Emily Dickinson with a few modern writers thrown in. And we wrote and wrote, and he read every word - and he hooked me.

My overall academic record was dreary, but that teacher got me into a local small college on probation, where I stumbled my first year, luckily encountered some new mentors and eventually found my way.

According to data from the National Center for Educational Statistics, people with a college degree, on average, will earn significantly more over a lifetime than people without a degree. And the benefit increases with education beyond the baccalaureate. This relation of higher education and economic advancement has been part of our cultural wisdom for generations and has contributed mightily to the nation’s increase in college attendance. But this wisdom is being challenged as tuition skyrockets, as certain white-collar occupations have become prey to computerization and outsourcing, and as the Great Recession has made so many kinds of employment vulnerable. We all know the stories of young people who are saddled with college debt and are working part time at jobs that do not require a college degree.

There are good jobs available in midlevel technical fields, in the trades and in certain services that do require training but not a four-year or even a two-year degree. The work of electricians, chefs and medical technicians cannot be outsourced. Why direct all our youth into a degree path that they might not complete (about 50%-60% of those who begin college graduate), that keeps them out of the labor market and that saddles them with debt?

Still, granted the above, the college degree on average and over time yields labor market benefits. And certain majors - for example, in technical fields, financial services, health sciences - have a strong pathway to employment. So just using an economic calculus alone, it seems that college is advisable, realizing that other good career options are open that do not require a bachelor’s degree. Researching those options would be the first order of business for students and parents looking for viable alternatives to college.

A limitation of a strictly economic focus on the college question is that it doesn’t take into account the simple but profound fact of human variability. Some young people are just not drawn to the kinds of activities that make up the typical academic course of study, no matter how well-executed. In a community college fashion program I’ve been studying, I see students with average to poor high school records deeply involved in their work, learning techniques and design principles, solving problems, building a knowledge base. Yet they resist, often with strong emotion, anything smacking of the traditional classroom, including the very structure of the classroom itself. So making the decision about college will have to blend both economics and personal interest. What does a young person want to do with his or her life?

That last sentence takes us to another aspect of the college question. While some young people are pretty clear about what they want to do with their lives, many are not. So they go to a two- or four-year college in search of a career. And some succeed. I’ve talked to so many students over the years who find their calling through a course taken to fulfill a general-education requirement: astronomy to theater. And others have their eyes opened by a job they get on campus. A young man I know in a welding program was employed in his community college’s tutoring center, and it transformed him. He’s planning to transfer to a four-year school to become a teacher. His is not an unusual story.

Discussing interests and meaningful work takes us to another big question: What is the purpose of education? It’s understandable, given our time, that the focus of discussion is on economics and employment. But historically, we’ve also demanded of our schools and colleges the fostering of intellectual, social, ethical and civic development. I come from a poor family, and college made my economic mobility possible, but I also learned how to read and write more carefully and critically, how to research new topics systematically and how to think cooperatively with other people. And whole new worlds of history, philosophy and psychology were opened up to me. What is interesting is that many people entering straightforward occupational programs - seemingly with quite different motives than those informing my liberal arts degree - also express a wide range of goals: They want to improve their reading, writing and math; they want to be able to help their kids in school better; they want to learn new skills and bodies of knowledge. Some of them talk about changing their lives.

A traditional two- or four-year college degree might not be right for everyone. But I do believe in the individual and social benefit of all people having the opportunity to experience what college - broadly defined - can provide: the chance to focus on learning, to spread one’s intellectual wings and test one’s limits. We certainly can learn new things in the workplace, but both the bucolic college on a hill and the urban occupational program operate without the production pressure of a job and with systematic feedback on performance - which increases the possibility of discovering new areas of talent and interest.

And that’s what education, at its best, is all about.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Mike Rose.


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  1. Ali

    I think everyone should get a good amount of education and should be able to go to college because... most jobs anywhere require having a college education and if not everyone could go to college they would not have a good job.

    October 18, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
  2. owen

    come wat may pals....

    October 18, 2012 at 9:23 am |
  3. bob

    Everyone should certainly be educated, but you do not need college for trade labor. We absolutely need plumbers, electricians, construction workers, and everyone in between. Is a bachelor's degree going to further your ability to do work? No, not really. What you really need if you are a plumber or electrician is continuing education. Absolutely so.

    October 16, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
  4. OnlyThoseWhoArePrepared

    Only those who are prepared should matriculate into degree-seeking coursework in higher educations, otherwise it is a waste of resources and is a partial cause for the high cost of higher education. The vast number of emotionally immature students coming to college is the cause for a great number of programs and assistance aimed a aiding those students so they don't leave. Its a horrible delimmna in having to accept a quota of in-state students and then be judged when they leave before attaining a degree in order to get state funding. When I attended college, the entire experience was a crucible to be endured by less than half who matriculated, because everything was graded on the curve and only the top 40 percent succeeded. Now everyone is expected to get a degree or else funding is threatened.

    October 16, 2012 at 6:00 am |
  5. Mackenzie

    everyone should go to college to further their education, and have a better lifestyle and career.

    October 15, 2012 at 11:58 pm |
  6. Mackenzie

    If you have a chance to get better education do it, i think everyone should go to college, so they can have better jobs and lifestyles.

    October 15, 2012 at 11:56 pm |
    • That kid over there

      Not everyone can afford to go to colledge and think about all the jobs that the average american today isnt going to do, you dont have to go o colledge to do those jobs and somebody has to do it.Not everyone can be an accountant or a docter or a proffeser,

      October 16, 2012 at 7:38 pm |
  7. kevin

    i think that you should go to collage becouse it gives you a better undestanding about your job. but you might not be able to afford it.

    October 12, 2012 at 6:21 pm |
  8. mique

    Hey Karli,

    I know that collage isn't for me! I never did like cutting pictures out of magazines and pasting them onto cardboard and adding some yarn as highlight. But I did enjoy getting my college education.

    October 12, 2012 at 8:19 am |
  9. chris

    Democrats support affirmative action programs in employment and college programs. Think before you vote.

    October 11, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
  10. Anjali

    I think it is only far all kids get the chance to have a collage education.

    October 11, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
    • Evan

      What does that even mean?

      October 11, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
  11. msquared2

    Should you go to college? Yes, BUT, I don't think that every 17-18 year old kid should go to school right out of high school. Too many kids don't know what they want to do. This is 2012, not has become too expensive to use it as a place to "find yourself". Too many kids are going off to college only to drop out, or drift for 3 years without a major, or drifting 10 years switching majors every other year, with no direction. Even those students who do go to school and graduate on schedule are often laboring under so much debt, they'll spend most of their working life paying it back. The other thing you have to ask is, what kind of job will I get with this education and how much does it pay. If you are an aspiring teacher, go to a less expensive public university for your degree, not a private school that costs two to three times as much. In the midwest, I think the kids who graduate and go get a 2-year degree at a community college are far better off than most students who attain 4-year degrees at any university. You'll pay back your loan for a 2-year degree much faster than a 4-year one; and, since you'll enter the full-time work force faster, you'll be making real money sooner. If you're bright enough to get a masters or a doctorate or other advanced degree, university makes perfect sense. But, MOST high school graduates aren't on the fast track to becoming lawyers or doctors. It's more important for graduates to be realistic. My classmates who entered college when they were in their late 20's or even 30's after either serving in the military or after working for 10 years and going back to school, had a much easier time of it, they were more mature, more responsible. They knew what they wanted, and how they wanted to get it done. 19 year old college kids care more about having a good time than learning. It's the worst time to be in school. I wish more kids would just get out of high school, work a few years, have fun, party, and when they get tired of that, THEN go and register for classes...when they're ready to grow up.

    October 11, 2012 at 11:27 am |
  12. Roberta S

    Easy decision: YES... college is a must! I say this as a recruiter helping candidates find jobs. I've been doing this for 13 years and I can tell you that unless you change the minds of corporations that a Degree is a must, then don't expect to even get a chance at an interview. I do not have a degree. As the last of 6 kids, my parents could not afford to help, so I took the business school route. Corporations do not value that education. I have struggled with getting interviews for jobs that I am fully qualified to perform, yet because I lack that credential, I am over looked. Business feel that if you don't have that degree, you must not have been intelligent enough to go to college, so you are not someone they'd like to hire.

    October 11, 2012 at 9:48 am |
    • Evan

      The corporation for which I work employs a large number of non-college educated people. Some of them have a lot of responsibility too, it just depends.

      October 11, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
    • Dearth Verbose

      My fantasy is that the university system which is unbelievably expensive and in my opinion a hindrance to learning is destroyed and replaced by people educating themselves in the field of their choice by reading and studying upon the literature extent in their own way in their own time in their own home for example electrical engineering and demonstrating to a hiring manager mastery and knowledge of the field. Is it possible for such a person to get an interview and for a hiring manager to properly evaluate said person and even hire him? Thank you kindly for your consideration of this question.

      October 12, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
  13. Burt Way

    Just funneling more students to college can only result in an even greater oversupply of grads. Unless jobs are first created to employ these grads, this results in un- and under-employment of many grads. For example if the country needs 20,000 new grad accountants a year and colleges graduate 25,000 of them then there will be 5000 would-be accounatnts who are not employed as accountants and are underemployed in some other capacity. Further, with an oversupply of job candidates, employers will start to lower salary offers.

    October 10, 2012 at 10:53 pm |
    • nabuna

      That will happen regardless of an education or not. Our society, the world is advacing, everyone has to have a basic grasp of technology aspects and new methods for our society to progress. A four year degree is basic, its after college, masters, phd, when you specialize. Basically, its like saying, should people have High School degrees?

      October 11, 2012 at 9:25 am |
  14. john

    i think if someone is 18 they should be considered an adult so they should not be forced to go to college.

    October 10, 2012 at 10:49 pm |
    • Evan

      Did someone suggest otherwise?

      October 11, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
  15. c s

    Everyone should have the opportunity to try to go to college IF they want to try it. This attempt to go to college is a gamble but no one can really know how it will turn out. The major thing is that it should not cost so much to to try it that the cost of the gamble is too high. So maybe the first quarter or semester or first year should be free in order to see if a person can do it without bankrupting them.

    October 10, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
    • Guest

      Free college=Pipe Dream

      October 10, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
  16. The Truth

    The short answer is no. First off college is not for everyone and even if they did alright in high school would be crushed in college. Second college degrees are a qualifing requirement for certain jobs, if everyone goes to college then those job requirements would be pushed to higher levels of education. In short a college degree in today's world would be equivelent to a high school diploma or less in the "everyone goes to college" world.

    This would be the same as setting minimum wage to a million dollars a year per person. Yes everyone is now a millionare, but the money value is almost worthless since bread would cost thousands of dollars per loaf. We all like to dream of sunshine and rainbows in one big happy world. In the end there must be value and value is generated by supply and demand. The more money there is the less its worth and the more it costs to buy things. Same with education, if there are too many qualified people then you raise the bar so the cream rises to the top.

    October 10, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
  17. Educated But Skeptical

    "He is on the faculty of the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies". Given that, I could have guessed where he stood on this issue. Duh!

    One of the largest factors is COST, so remove that for a moment. Suppose that college was free to the student and cost neutral to society. Now, consider the question "Should everyone go to College"? The answer is no. In terms of every possible experience college is a narrow experience which isn't suitable for everyone. Just because some people never leave College doesn't mean it is good for everyone!

    Bring COST back into the picture. I say that 12+ years of prescribed education in the US is enough. As a society we can't extend that to 35 years, so where is the cutoff? 12, 16, 20?

    Bring COST back into the picture and firmly place it on the student. Consider it an investment in a student's lifetime earning potential. Is "College a good investment"? Historically, College was a good investment. Nowadays, the investors (parents and society) are questioning their "investment".

    A better idea, for our well educated (12+ years) and well connected (Internet) kids, skip College and…
    a) serve in the military, earn a degree while you work. Retire 4 years earlier.
    b) serve in the Peace Corps, great life experience.
    c) go to trade school, work with your hands, it is rewarding and practical.
    d) spend some time abroad, kick back, learn about the world.
    e) get a job at the Federal Government, earn a degree while you work. Retire 4 years earlier.
    f) take $200K as a lump sum (which your parents would otherwise have paid for a top tier education), start a business with $0 debt.

    October 10, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
  18. DDS

    I possess an MBA and BS from Drexel University. I truly credit the university and their co-op opportunities with positioning me for success now that I am 10 years removed from acadamics. Frankly, not everyone is cut out for college and the notion that there is a degree out there for everyone is part of the problem. Universities and colleges are a business and the notion of more opportunites/potential income perpetuates the problem. Young people truly not "cut out" for college enroll into programs and attain degrees that are not even worth paper they are printed on. Let's be truthful, other countries do not afford opportunities to those that don't meet the academic rigor. Why should we continue to lower our standards to ensure college is an option for all. This adds to the un-employment problem and the growing debt credited to tuitions that will never be able to be repaid. I know this sounds very disheartening but the solution is not more colleges and educational opportunities; its is about having a defined path/goal and working towards more versatile degrees. If you love arts or basketweaving – don't get a degree unless their is a real value proposition at the end...if not, it's simply a waste of time and money.

    October 10, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
    • FiveLIters

      Very well said! I tried doing the college thing,maybe about 4 years out of high school. The company I worked for offered tuition reimbursement,and it was OK. But although I passed the classes,I never felt like it provided a practical application for my real-world experiences. (I was going for a computer science degree). The company ended up laying off our whole office down the road,and I never got that degree. But guess what? I did the unemployment thing for a few months while I networked and job searched,found an entry level job for a lab,did it for a couple of years,then moved up to their client services department. Eventually,a position opened up in the I.T. area,I took it,and I have been here ever since. I make pretty good money. I own (as in paid off) my own house,a few cars,and I'm doing what I originally set out to do...but without a degree.

      October 10, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
  19. Friend of Jack

    Along this line, would be trying to erase the stigma that goes with NOT having a college degree. Not everyone needs a degree. Not everyone should be herded into getting one. There is this unreal expectation that unless you have one, you can't be successful. WRONG. We all know someone that never went to college are are doing quite well (Pick a career – the possibilities are endless). If these same people went to college they might not be doing what they are doing today. And you know what – we need these type of people. We need what they give to us or do for us. If your child says they don't want to go to school, don't force them into it. Stop and ask them why. If they say "I just don't want to take more classes" that's acceptable, if not understandable. But ask what they want to do instead. How they answer says a lot. And how you react says a lot more. Impress upon them that advanced education is necessary for many careers out there. If they still want to be a ..whatever.. then its your job to support them and help them be the best..whatever.. they can be.

    October 10, 2012 at 11:41 am |
  20. WhatNow

    The greatest skill I learned in college was critical thinking. I learned to not fall for everything I hear, see or read. I learned to research, listen, research more and then make my decision. I learned that knowing both sides of every argument was the only way to be true to myself. As I grow older and teach new college students, this is the thing I want them to learn, to think, research and make informed decisions. This skill will help you more than you could ever imagine.

    October 10, 2012 at 9:52 am |
    • Nelba

      I like the one about "I learned to not fall for everything I hear, see or read." Unraveling the extremely clever attempts at deceit by some professors was enlightening. However it sometimes cost me in the grading departement if I did that in a midterm or final report.

      October 10, 2012 at 10:51 pm |
  21. onlyaname

    where will we be when this economic slump wears off, will a degree still earn you more, when thousands maybe million of this decade grads have taken jobs in lower paying field and got comfortable now so far removed from their educational background they will not be looked on as well as the new grads?

    This is what worries me, i have my degree but there was no jobs at the time, when job market is back up will i be consider to far removed from that background to get a job in that field?

    October 10, 2012 at 9:43 am |
    • Bobpitt

      Most of the people with a degree that have not found employment are people with degrees such as General arts degree (General Arts = Basket weaving), all graduates with a tech degree or a useful degree are working; there are a million tech jobs that have not been filled.

      October 10, 2012 at 10:14 am |
      • whorhay

        Just because there are a million tech jobs in theory open doesn't mean there are a million jobs for graduates in that field. Very often the job requirements are so stringent that a new grad wouldn't likely be able to even apply. Sometimes the job listing is actually part of a businesses plan to apply for more H1B visas, in that the job pays too little for what they say they need. Or the Tech job is working in a dead end job like a call center asking people if they plugged their computer in. There was also a huge wave of people trying to get into tech because of the perception that it's easy money, and once you are in and have some real world experience that can start to become true, but for a fresh college grad trying to break into the field it can be very challenging.

        October 10, 2012 at 10:38 am |
      • onlyaname

        a year ago they were telling people medical coding is a much need job, get your certification! oh wait you need 2 years on the job before anyone will look at you! health information is a great field to go into has a clear path but no jobs for new grads. oh you should teach! oh wait their are no teachieng jobs! (elementary school high school ect) Science is rare to not find a job but if your uni was not top you could very well be. Strangly the major that i know everyone got a job in was political science. computer guy took 6 months and a move far away from where he wanted to live to find a job (he has a son wanted to stay close) even though there was opening in his area.

        October 10, 2012 at 10:50 am |
      • Bob

        Getting an education is about more than getting a job. Education teaches more than the skills and knowledge necessary for a specific career. It teaches critical thinking, hones one's creativity, creates well rounded persons capable of making sound decisions, interpreting the world around them, and interacting with other people in a socially acceptable manner. However, one often gets out of a process what one puts into a process. If a person goes to school expecting simply a fast ticket to a job then they miss out on all of the aforementioned benefits of education. It is unfortunate if a person finds them without work in their career of choice but that does not mean that college was a waste. If they do think that then frankly they clearly missed the point of getting an education. There are other ways that they could have benefited from an education. If you can't find a job in your career of choice then perhaps it is time for a new career. I can get away with giving that type of harsh advice because it is exactly what I am doing right now. At the age of 42 I went back to school for a completely new career, and I am loving every bit of school all over again.

        October 10, 2012 at 11:49 am |
      • AllYourBase

        Wrong. Not all tech majors have found jobs. In fact, there are tons of engineers who cannot find jobs. I know several. And many even have experience (and no I don't mean those in there 40s or 50s who have too MUCH experience). Do some research before you go about spewing nonsense like your statement that anyone who studied a tech field finds a job. In fact only very specific types of engineers (EEs for example) have no problem. My family member who had a systems engineering background couldn't find a job for 3 years.

        October 10, 2012 at 12:46 pm |
      • Tina

        Not true. My daughter graduated with a civil engineering degree (surveying) and thanks to the low housing market, has not been able to find a job in her field. Essentially all the potential employers told her that they were laying off experienced surveying techs, so why would they hire a newbie? She is working – at Amazon in their warehouse – requirement, high school diploma.

        October 10, 2012 at 2:42 pm |

    This is hard for me judge i am a 26 years working a full time job, but one that does not require a degree but its an office job so i am lucky for that. However i do have a degree and me and most of my friends have felt like we have wasted 4 to 5 years of life in school because their are no jobs for new grads.
    Sure their are some degrees where you can find a job in no problem like the sciences but no everyone is drawn to them. Teachers have a clear path but find no jobs when they come out of school, those with degree in poltical science history ect were told of the many jobs they could do even odd jobs that would like them cause they could critical think but those jobs arent there either.

    I loved college but was it worth my time, mental yes, economically no. Me and my parents spent thousands of dollars to have me most likely in the same position i would have been in without a degree and 4 year less of experience to move up. Finding a job that requires a degree is very hard no matter what your subject you study in school. I may be to jaded with my own failure due to economic times to see this clearly but i do not think college is for everyone when there the job number for those with degrees does not come close to the number of holders.

    October 10, 2012 at 9:40 am |
    • Bobpitt

      please be aware Most of the people with a degree that have not found employment are people with degrees such as General arts degree (General Arts = Basket weaving), all graduates with a tech degree or a useful degree are working; there are a million tech jobs that have not been filled.

      October 10, 2012 at 10:15 am |
      • onlyaname

        i have some unemployed friends you should tell that too. they will get a right out laugh about, they are told no experience no job. of course they did not go to best university, so is university only worth it if you go to one of the best? I know teachers, a couple science guys, business degrees, (which sound likes a coop out too), a guy with a mathematics degree from a respect university with out jobs in any good field.

        October 10, 2012 at 10:44 am |
    • Ron

      "I loved college but was it worth my time, mental yes, economically no. Me and my parents spent thousands of dollars to have me most likely in the same position i would have been in without a degree and 4 year less of experience to move up. Finding a job that requires a degree is very hard no matter what your subject you study in school. I may be to jaded with my own failure due to economic times to see this clearly but i do not think college is for everyone when there the job number for those with degrees does not come close to the number of holders."

      You're missing some very important points here.

      1. Without going to college, you'd be stupider than you are now. Really. And that wouldn't help anybody. Especially you–even if you were four years into a very good-paying job in an ever-expanding field. You have a good six decades to go on this planet, if you're lucky, and being stupider would have a lot of time to cause you pain and money.

      2. Getting a college education isn't just about getting a paycheck.

      3. During college, you were exposed to ideas and concepts that you would never have been exposed to in your life–no matter what job you'd taken or how many books you might have read in your spare time. Taking college courses makes you push past the point of frustration and tedium to get at least a cursory, temporary grasp of some broad concepts, and doing that changes your brain.

      4. How your college education changed you–and, far more importantly, the seedling capabilities it gave you to continue changing–are likely invisible to you. You don't perceive them. But they're there. Ask people who know you. And they'll continue to pay dividends your entire life. The most important will not be economic.

      5. Trying to put a dollar sign on #4 is very tricky. And illusory. People can do studies that show how much more money college graduates make than people with only a high school diploma, but that's an extremely narrow and myopic way of trying to gauge something that will influence every single realm and moment of your life.

      6. Twenty years from now, remember to find some of your current peers who didn't go to college and ask them how they're getting along and what their prospects are for their future. Ask them if they indeed put all the money they would have spent on student loans into interest-bearing accounts or any other investments and are enjoying the extra padding from making that swap. See if you still feel you wasted those years you spent studying in college and getting that diploma, paying what you felt was an incredibly large sum for it. See if you still feel like it's a large sum, considering what you got.

      October 10, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
      • SHANNON

        RON i agree with you, just wasn't the point i wanted to draw out at the time. but yes i am a better person for going to school, i am brighter i did a lot of volunteer work to help people. Came up with new ideas, learned how to think a little more out of the box. learned a lot of lies my teachers told in school.

        October 10, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
  23. Davis

    Let's start by agreeing that most people think 1. their children must go to college and 2. they are obligated to help or even finance at great sacrifice. This creates the paradigm in which we discuss the question of why everyone should go to college. This article was very well written but my simple response is young people can make their way in life without attaining a 4 year degree. The majority of our working population do not have a 4 year degree even though more people with the degree tend to have a better chance at employment and higher pay. Secondly, as a parent of four children I put a limit on what I could do to help my children to pay for higher education and did not feel guilty about it. This left the decision as to what college they would or would not attend and how to ultimately pay for what it cost on them.

    October 10, 2012 at 9:25 am |
  24. dad of 4 students

    My oldest is a high school junior and the other 3 are not far behind. I wrestle with this a lot because of the cost and because it may or may not make sense for all of them. My oldest is pretty set on a chosen career and it is one that could be entered with a 2 or 4 year program. The 4 year choices would cost about 5 times as much as the 2 year, as it would be a local community college. I am a tech school graduate who has made a nice living. I still feel the pull to provide my kids with the choice of a 4 year degree and encourage it.

    October 10, 2012 at 8:37 am |
  25. ConstantReader

    When I returned to school (at age 50) one of our first required classes covered this question but looking at the history and purpose of higher education. College was not (and should not be) an incubator for drones demanding higher paychecks. College taught people how to evaluate information critically and make reasoned, sometimes creative, decisions based on the analysis. Those skills are important in every field and are part of being a good citizen. For that aspect, I believe everyone would benefit from college. In the end, it's not about the paycheck, it's about becoming a better person.

    October 10, 2012 at 8:23 am |
  26. Denise

    College isn't for everyone, but everyone who goes will learn how to think in a different way which will enhance how they live their lives. It broadens a person's perspective and helps them gain new insights. Sure, it's not for everyone, but I can see how it makes a person's more financially and enriched life. AND we need more techinical workers too. As with anything in life, BALANCE IS THE KEY. Let's also not forget – even if you don't go to college doesn't mean you can't learn something new every day.

    October 10, 2012 at 8:19 am |
  27. A mind is a terrible thing to waste

    College is not for everyone. Trades such as masons, plumbers, electricians, and chefs are in demand. For those not cut out for college there are options can pay a pretty good living. Some of these trades workers can make six figures. The important thing is for coolege to prepare students for a real job. Junior college is now training people for technical fields in which there are real jobs waiting. This is more realistic. The last thing we need is more lawyers. Law school has been cranking out more ambulance chasers then we can possibly use.

    October 10, 2012 at 8:10 am |
  28. Jim

    Too many people use college as a holding pen for young adults to grow up and mature. IMO, gap years or the Peace Corps would be a far more beneficial thing to do than weight for average to below average students to serious up and get their heads on straight. I tutored many of college students in math during my college years, I found most of those on academic probation really didn't belong in college and were simply wasting their time and money. Maybe some would grow up and be able to handle the material, some on the other hand were simply taking their time growing up before coming to the realization that they were a blue collar worker that had to accept some less than thrilling job prospect.

    October 10, 2012 at 7:00 am |
  29. Mehdi

    Not necessarily, because we see many famous people that without going college are billionaires now! And on the other hand we know many inventors, without going college, were succeed! So then "Why college was created" I think the goal of colleges are standardize and classify knowledge and sciences and of course educating international scientific language, for better life!

    October 10, 2012 at 2:50 am |
  30. The_Mick

    I'm a retired (2006) gifted and talented chemistry and physics teacher, after a first career as an industrial process research chemist and NO NO NO, college is NOT for everyone, even though No Child penalizes schools that foster strong vo-tech programs. We have a shortage in the USA of certificated mechanics, masons, carpenters, and other careers and there are students who are not mentally geared toward college. During the summers, my county paid me to spend time at a variety of local businesses to see how our high schools were preparing students for the work world. I spent time at printers, food service companies, United Airlines at BWI Airport, car repair shops, a sundeck construction company, etc. The auto guys have been BEGGING the county to graduate more auto mechanics. But if the school system does so and the standardized tests don't show all students progressing toward a college career, the schools will lose federal education money, they will be penalized and required to spend tens of thousands per school to find out "what's wrong" even if they excel in every other category except those impacted by vo-tech.

    October 10, 2012 at 12:16 am |
  31. jvivien

    if they keep making college tuition higher, most degrees wont pay off.
    going to medical school or dental school can cost upto $450K by the time you are done. and not to mention 80 hour work weeks! and 10 years of training after college!
    with the 30% to 60% cuts we see insurance payments, it is becoming not worthwhile to work that hard!

    our government is starting to penalize success that results from hard work of 10 post graduate years anyway.

    I think it pays better to work a lot less hard and count on government handouts

    raising tuition that much challenges people from going to college. why do we want to do that to our society?

    October 9, 2012 at 9:30 pm |
    • sam

      it pays better to work less hard and get gov handouts?! are you flipping kidding me? a few hundred a month in so called handouts is living the high life? please go back to school.

      October 10, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
  32. allenwoll

    WHY DOES THIS NOT POST ????????????????????????????????????

    October 9, 2012 at 9:21 pm |
  33. Krecia

    Yes, I think everyone should go to college. Some people that can't go to college either cannot afford it, or they just don't want to go. They should go to college so they will have successful jobs and a successful life.

    October 9, 2012 at 8:22 pm |
    • Southerner01

      People who do not want to go to college should not go. There are plenty of career options that do not require college.

      Also, there are people who lack the intellectual capacity to succeed in college. It is a disservice to allow them to waste money attempting something they are incapable of.

      October 9, 2012 at 8:33 pm |
    • DalcassianKnight

      "They should go to college so they will have successful jobs and a successful life."

      WHAT??????? Are you saying that success only comes from going to college. I myself, have never gone to college and I have a very successful career in IT and a very successful "Home" life with my wife and children. I've been happily married for almost 19 years and my kids are both "A" students in school. We're paying all of our bills and live healthy lives. How many people in the US today can say they've been married (happily) to the same person for that long and are not behind in any of the debts? Many of these people also went to college, are they successful?

      How do you define "SUCCESS"? I may not be making six figures but I am a pillar of respect in my community (I coach soccer to kids in my spare time) and I am loved by my family. I am respected for my knowledge and experience by my colleagues at work. I pay all my bills on time and even manage to put a little bit aside for a vacation each year. Is that not success?

      October 10, 2012 at 8:37 am |
      • K

        Very well said :).

        I'm a college graduate, divorced with two kids, and in credit card debt for the first time in my life as a results of all of that. I don't consider that "success" despite my education. I'm a successful mother, friend, daughter, neighbor, but none of that came from my college education! I know lots of people way more "successful" than me who did not go to college. Work ethic can't be learned in college and is often more of a predictor of success (in my opinion).

        October 10, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
      • Ron

        K -
        Do you think you'd be better off without a college education?
        Now, or later?

        October 10, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
  34. Dearth Verbose

    Formal education makes no sense. It is the paying to others THOUSANDS!!! even TENS of THOUSANDS!!! of dollars to tell you to study. Instead purchase the textbooks of the subject or trade you wish to gain mastery of read and study upon them to said mastery in your own way in your own time in your own home and save the fantastic sums. This is what the invention of the printing press makes possible. The verbal transmission of knowledge as practiced by Socrates thousands of years ago is no longer necessary and is in fact obsolete.

    October 9, 2012 at 7:38 pm |
    • Southerner01

      Let me read a book on surgery and then operate on you. How does that sound?

      October 9, 2012 at 8:31 pm |
      • Dearth Verbose

        Read all the literature extent in your own way in your own time in your own home to gain mastery of biology medicine and surgery quite likely to a level of knowledge greater than would likely be achieved via formal schooling as it is well known that home schooled students are SUPERIOR to those taught by the self proclaimed education experts so called "teachers" skip university medical school save a HUNDRED THOUSAND!!! dollars perform a surgical apprenticeship and I'll permit said surgery if required and if your rates are reasonable. There are a hundred more or less subjects taught whatever that means in university. How many of them are you unable to master via Do It Yourself University simply by reading and studying upon the no doubt required texts in your own way in your own time in your own home? Can you master Architecture? How about Art History but who cares if Da Vinci painted with his left hand or right? Or Biology how hard is that. Maybe even Chemistry why not. Who knows maybe English even. The study of the psychology of people who never existed. Amazing. Geography? History? Mathematics now there's a subject worthy of study but still not requiring a so called "teacher". Religious Study? Philosophy? Just read the literature extent. Does the so called lecturer know something the authors of any number of texts do not? Wy pay someone to read a book to you? That's what a lecture is. RSVP

        October 9, 2012 at 10:35 pm |
      • Southerner01


        First, if teachers are not necessary, why are tutorial labs so popular? Do you not grasp that many students may need assistance in understanding a subject? Reading about calculus from a book doesn't help you figure out what you have done wrong when the answer is incorrect.

        Second, if I were to read all those books on biology on through medicine, how would you know if I had actually understood and mastered them? Formal education is partially about teaching/learning and partially about the assessment of mastery.

        Third, the vast majority of classes involve a lot more than "lecture". Very few teachers rely solely on a lecture format any more. Various types of guided mastery, from simulations, cases, roleplaying, coaching, etc. are used. You may feel comfortable with the self-taught from books surgeon, but I'd rather have someone who has an MD and has worked under experienced doctors.

        October 10, 2012 at 5:55 am |
      • FiveLIters

        In a weird sort of way,I get the gist of what (s)he is saying. If you truly are interested in a subject/career/etc. that is being taught as a course at college,get the books/info/curriculum on it and immerse yourself in it. If you get it,and it seems to be your thing,then fine,go for that degree or area of study. But if -not-,you're only out the cost of some course material and time,not a ton of tuition that you'd most likely need loans to repay,with no guarantee that you'd actually get a career in that field to begin with. One other thing:getting a degree is -supposed- to mean you have the smarts to do a certain something. But in some people's cases,it doesn't mean that they -actually- do. Unfortunately,some of them get hired,and,well...that just miight be the surgeon operating on you!

        October 10, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
      • Burt Way

        Youm do not learn suregery in college either. That is why med school grads have required internships, residencies.

        October 10, 2012 at 11:09 pm |
    • Ron

      Dearth Verbose,

      I think you've watched Goodwill Hunting too many times and forgot it was a movie.

      You'd have a closer shot at being just a little correct if you were not talking about human beings.

      Most have a limited time to live on earth, want to maximize pleasure and minimize pain, and aren't geniuses. They're pretty average. They live like average people.

      One in a million might have the extreme self-discipline, persistence, and mental capability to gain a useable competence (forget about mastery) in a complicated field through self-education.

      So there'd be about 122 doctors on the planet.

      Unfortunately, we need more doctors than that. We need more of everything than that.

      Self-schooling, and learning "in your own time, in your own way" is great for the small percentage of people who will actually do it, and can actually do it, and will actually become effective from doing it.

      So you'd be waiting about 217 years to have your gangrenous appendix removed. On the positive side, the dude who finally did it would be a true natural.

      Ask yourself this: Are you going to stay up until 4 in the morning to understand a concept in quantum physics that will never direct apply to your own life, but will provide a valuable metaphor that helps solve a sophisticated problem in the future?

      Are you going to spend 100 hours studying things about your chosen field that don't interest you in the least, but are important to know for context?

      Did you learn to multiply and divide numbers because you just couldn't keep yourself away from a math book?

      I really hope you aren't giving people in your community advice about home schooling.

      October 10, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
      • Dearth Verbose

        I am not sure what to conclude other than that the paying of tuition in GREAT SUMS somehow endows a student with the "extreme self-discipline, persistence, and mental capability" to become a mediocre doctor. As for this business with 100 hours or 4:00 AM or Quantum Mechanics I have no idea what is meant other than perhaps that college graduates are lazy.

        October 11, 2012 at 6:33 pm |
  35. Cameron Marlowe

    My answer is No, With the drop in jobs of today if a student would not like to go to college they don't have to.The fact is some people would like to get jobs when others would rather stay unemployed.Leaving more empty jobs for the people who would like to.

    October 9, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
  36. Karli

    No collage is not always for people. If the people desire to go they can. If they don't its not up to me. I'm going to collage whether you like it or not. But I don't want a murderer or a druggie in my class because they are forced to.

    October 9, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
    • wangusbeef_mcvergan

      again, *college no collage

      October 9, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
      • Bobpitt

        With high school you would be able to spell college.

        October 10, 2012 at 10:17 am |
    • Southerner01

      People who cannot spell college are unlikely to succeed in college.

      October 9, 2012 at 8:35 pm |
      • Bobpitt


        October 10, 2012 at 10:18 am |
      • Ron

        "Collage isn't for everyone."

        That would be a great bumper sticker.

        It pretty well sums up the take-home of reading all of these comments, too.

        October 10, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
  37. Karli

    My view is a collage should not prefer people of one color or culture they should look at the important things like personality. Hispanic people should oviosly go to collage and so should anyone else but the color of a person should not affect if they get into the collage or not.

    October 9, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
    • wangusbeef_mcvergan

      *college no collage

      October 9, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
    • Mickus

      It's college you nimrod!

      October 10, 2012 at 7:17 am |
  38. Terry Zheng

    Well, in my opinion, yes. Why I say that is because unemployment rate is dropping. You need a job, so what you need to do is go to a college. Community college, Harvard, Yale, whatever. That gives you a better chance to get a job.

    October 9, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • Southerner01

      College is only useful for some jobs. Also, some degrees are basically useless for any job.

      October 9, 2012 at 8:36 pm |
      • Burt Way

        In reality most degrees have little application. Ask a few real math majors what courses they took, from basic calc, , Probability & Stats, linear algebra, Differential equations, partial diff, vector analysis, fourier analysis, real analysis. Then when you have the list, ask when they last used each one. Most of them, never.

        October 10, 2012 at 11:18 pm |
  39. Texmex

    YES!! Now this could mean Military School, Tech School or a College, but some kind of college for everyone is good.

    October 9, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
  40. DIR

    NO! You have gang bangers, druggies, artist, cowboys and firemen. You have wielders, and construction workers and plumbers, You have truckers and radiology techs, and electricians. You need to build the machine work repairing the machine and the fewest you need is those who design the machine. Whats lost in the transmission of this knowledge is which one of those individuals can you do with out? Or would you want to not have, and then where is the equality in paying for each one of them to desirer to do that work? Design and build a coast guard boat, cost 1 million dollars, then pay two million, NO! Equality is a balance that is not being achieved. The engineer may be able to do the math, but can't begin to drive the nail or plumb the wall. College is not for everyone in fact it is for the few!

    October 9, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
  41. fiftyfive55

    There was a time when everything college had to offer was useful but since the dawn of the computer,man is becoming less and less significant in the workplace.Computers are practically ready to become CEO.Computers are automation and automation has eliminated many fields of service once only done by humans.Subjects in college are really being narrowed down to which ones can actually help you earn a living and basically since these fields are narrowing,only top performing students will make it in the corporate world.Dont get wrong,an education is never a bad thing but it isnt always a good thing either when considering the cost versus the earning potential.Parents HAVE TO BE REALISTIC about shelling out a lot of money nowadays for tuition when so many jobs have either been computerized or sent offshore to cheap labor countries.

    October 9, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
  42. Angel Firestone

    A very thoughtful blog. I wish that there was a period of time that students had to just go join apprenticeships or internships. Many follow a career path without having a clear idea what that career will entail. College and graduate programs are costly, it would be beneficial to the student as well as to the parents who are paying for their education to have a better idea in what direction they were heading prior entry into those higher education programs.

    October 9, 2012 at 7:25 am |
    • onlyaname

      i agree with you! even when places have things like student teaching you do not get that till your last year and then it is to late to turn back when you realize it is not what you thought.

      October 10, 2012 at 12:06 pm |