I’ve been reading a lot of articles lately about the state of the American educational system, and I wanted to voice my opinions on the matter.
College is far too damn expensive! Years of cuts by politicians and rising costs have made caused tuition to skyrocket over the past years. I accrued almost $30,000 in loans to go to a public university for only 2.5-3 years! That is absolutely absurd, especially in this economy. I think a great way to move America forward would be to make education more affordable, perhaps I even daresay to socialize it. (Gasp!) It has become very inefficient. I am talking about affordability here, not accessibility. Open accessibility is an idea I do not fully agree with. Not every one should go to college, nor can everyone. There needs to be standards, criteria to determine whether or not someone can succeed the rigors of academia. Just as long as such criteria do not become too high. I have to admit, I was a mediocre student in my k-12 days.
The grand question comes down to is college worth it? With the way things are now, I would say no *IF* you believe the myth about college= a better job and a better life. Colleges and universities are immensely valuable to society as a whole, but not in their current state of overly priced, degree factories. This is coming for a person who has a BA. The credential/degree culture in America has to go. A degree is neither guarantee of a good job, nor a good life. I think this American myth needs to be overturned. In short, speaking from idealism and personal experience, higher education should be focused on knowledge and research. Not degrees and better jobs. I went to a public university because I wanted to learn, not because of some delusion of a better job. If you ask why I studied anthropology, it is because I wanted to learn more about it! I will live a better life because of the knowledge, not because I will get a great job. I haven’t and I probably won’t. Get over it, its a myth!
Research and education are valuable because they help foster innovation and creativity in our society. Critical thinking skills can be taught at the college level, and this should be the focus. Research and education for educations sake. Colleges should mentor those that wish to learn more, or pursue highly skilled careers such as medicine in which a massive knowledge base is a prerequisite.
I want to clarify, that I am not against academia in any way shape or form. I entirely support the advancement of knowledge and the general education of the populace as a whole. I just don’t think it should cost so much. Also, I think it needs to focus no research and teaching, not degrees and better job. Don’t get me wrong, there needs to be a way to acknowledge progress, which degrees currently do. However, with degrees we get way to caught up as a society on the credentials debate. A degree is not necessary as a measure or expertise. Experience and hard work makes one an expert, not a piece of paper. Yes, I’ll admit that during the course of earning a degree one often gets experience and puts in hard work. Put it this way, if a two people put in comparable time and work, and both have comparable experience, the only difference is that one has a degree and one does not. Are they not both “experts” in their area? Not according to our society. Our society only acknowledges the one with the degree. The factors that contribute to this are far to complex to dwell into so I will leave it at that.
I apologize to my readers if this seems a little ranty. Frankly it is. In summary, all I am saying is that it is time to rethink our education system. In my opinion, we need a stronger focus on 1) vocational training and trade schools, 2) education for educations sake, not the “degree=wonderful life” myth and 3) Making education affordable for those that wish to learn.