The Purpose of a College Education

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8.4 million of the 11.6 million jobs produced in the post-recession economy went to staff with at least a bachelor’s degree (Carnevale, Tamara, and Artem, 1). Those with a high school diploma or less lost over seven million jobs during the recession, but only eighty thousand jobs were created afterward. Because of an occupational and industrial change that made higher education more valuable in the labor market, the recovery generated a need for more managerial and skilled employment. However, in recent years, there is an rise in the number of college graduates on the unemployment line; a trend critics are attributing to failure by colleges and institutions of higher learning to produce students ready for jobs. Instead of concentrating on trends and statistics, the concerned parties should answer one question; is producing job-ready students ready for the sole purpose of a college education?

The implications of a college education are clear: Create graduates that understand how the workplace works and can see the input of their skills fit into it (Oreopoulos, Philip, and Uros Petronijevic, 43). Just as it the proverbial pivotal point of higher education, attending college provides one with unlimited opportunities unavailable to those who only have a high school diploma. Moreover, most of the jobs created after the “Great Recession” require technical and post-secondary school skills only attainable through higher education. It is no surprise that employability is measurable by the ability of the graduates to adapt to their job requirement successively, and quickly adapt to the needs of their careers (Oreopoulos, Philip, and Uros Petronijevic, 44). Consequently, one can judge the impact of a college graduate’s education by their ability to share knowledge and tackle the changing needs of their industry and society in general. Failure to invest in research and innovation, and preparing students for the job market obsolete the need for a college education. Moreover, there is no need for a college education if graduates are not ready to project their careers or handle problems within their areas of expertise.

Yes, it is true that a college education provides one with better and more opportunities in the job market. However, some scholars argue that the primary purpose of a college education is not to purely economic. While the education affords economic benefits on both the macro and the micro level, its primary role should be about building a robust economy and a civilized society. College equips a graduate with the ability to speak intelligently about matters as well as take part in the solution. As Oreopoulos and Uros articulate, student’s experiences in college shapes them to understand the society and relate better with people from a diversified background. Subsequently, they gain a better view of the world and make better decisions in the market; some opt to become entrepreneurs, activist, conservationists, and similar career paths.

In conclusion, I believe that college is a privilege; and with the privilege comes responsibilities namely investing the knowledge to better the conditions of our communities. Nonetheless, the purpose of a college education should be to enlighten the student and provide them with a broad view of education and society in general. In today’s world, higher education and gainful employment are merely a status quo, and the real impact of a college graduate is how the input of their skills solve community and industrial problems.

Work Cited

Carnevale, Anthony P., Tamara Jayasundera, and Artem Gulish. “America’s Divided Recovery: College Haves and Have-Nots.” Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce (2016).

Dacre Pool, Lorraine, and Peter Sewell. “The key to employability: developing a practical model of graduate employability.” Education+ Training 49.4 (2007): 277-289.

Oreopoulos, Philip, and Uros Petronijevic. “Making college worth it: A review of the returns to higher education.” The Future of Children 23.1 (2013): 41-65.

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