What’s the Purpose of College?

October 12, 2013 Op-Eds, Opinion

It’s senior year of high school. All down the hallways you hear conversations about college. Not so much about the intention behind attending college but more so which colleges to apply to and why those specific colleges. What are you planning on studying? Which sorority do you want to join? For most people college is simply the next destination after high school. But what is the purpose of attending college; is college simply a way to prolong life, is college the best way to gain more knowledge, or is college the only way to acquire a respectable profession?

Let’s first consider the idea of prolonging life. In high school you eat, sleep, go to school, play a sport or an instrument, maybe you do your own laundry, but for the most part you are dependent on family members or guardians. To jump into life right out of high school is a daunting step for many people between filing taxes and paying bills they’ve never seen before. College is the best way to prolong reality and learn about the life beyond the parental units without having to stay under their roof, that is, if escaping them as soon as possible is your goal. Maybe in that sense, college is a way to escape your parents with a decent argument about gaining education rather than simply stating you want to party as far from them as possible with the added benefit of a degree. But college is an expensive price to pay to simply party and avoid paying bills now versus paying them now without the added cost of college loans.

College is another institution for education, higher education if you will. But it seems strange to gain thirteen vital years of education by simply paying taxes then be charged an extreme cost for tuition for, in a myriad of cases, only four years of college. It seems you are only charged for your education when you want to attend an institution for learning. Yet, in many courses you are taught from a textbook. So simply purchasing a textbook outside of a college institution would benefit your education the same as attending a class that paraphrases the book with a little outside knowledge you can pick up from the internet. If education was the main purpose of college then more emphasis would be placed on community colleges or online courses that cost less for the same knowledge.

Now for the final theory behind the purpose of college: to get a job. What is the major prerequisite for most high paying jobs? A degree. What does a degree say about you? You studied the necessary subjects that you need to be successful at your job. That is not to say you don’t have the knowledge required to complete the job without a degree, it simply means the company hiring you assumes you can only get a high-quality education through college. So the main purpose behind attending college is to provide tangible evidence to companies to show them that you are competent enough to be successful in the trade. We attend college to get a degree and use that degree to be hired at a high paying job to then pay off student loans.

Then again if gaining a degree is the pertinent reason for college, why pay four times the price to attend a private college than to attend a community college and earn the same degree? The job market is limited and therefore, the hiring process is competitive since companies want the best of the best to turn a higher profit. So the more prestigious school you attend the more important you seem and it just so happens the more prestigious the school the higher the cost of tuition. In fact, Rollins college, the number one school in the south, is well known among prominent companies so simply attending Rollins gives you an edge.

About Meghan Mitchell

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