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Does College Education Has Any Value?

Updated on December 28, 2021
Nyamweya profile image

Nyamweya is a Kenyan scholar who has done many years of research on a diversity of topics

Worth or Waste?

There have been heated debates in the contemporary society concerning the value of college education. People have varying ideas on whether a college education is still necessary. While the traditional societal orientation seems to have made many people believe that one cannot succeed in life unless they have a college education, current technological advancements seem to challenge this assertion. This paper presents a critical analysis and synthesis of two articles that tackle the issue of the value of college education: “College is a Waste of Time” by Dale Stephen and “College is Worth it” by Bridget Terry Long. An analysis of the two articles shows that Dale has effectively employed the rhetorical elements of ethos, pathos and logos to convince the audience on the validity of his points.

In the first article, “College is a Waste of Time” Dale Stephens argues that college education is not a guarantee of a successful life. The author successfully employs ethos by emphasizing on his accomplishment as an entrepreneur to convince his audience, who comprises of global readers that it is possible to succeed even without having to obtain education (Dale1). He goes on persuading people that despite not having had the so called “privileged” college education, he is a successful young man. For instance, despite his young age, he has been a renowned and successful entrepreneur. Stephene is also a leader of UnCollegeCo, a social movement, a renowned organization in the United States which has positively influenced and changed the lives of youngsters who opt for pursuing education with a focus on practical skill acquisition.

It is also clear that Stephen has used pathos since he discusses at length his experiences as an example to show the “futility” of seeking higher education. He says that despite him having a chance to go to college, he had failed to establish its productivity. Furthermore, the education he was seeking required him to conform to a specific culture while inculcating competition rather than collaboration and independence. The author goes on to articulate that real issues need real solutions and it is common knowledge that what is learned in the classroom may not be directly applied in the outside world. According to him, college education has killed the creativity, innovation, and curiosity of those who go through it. According to him, a college degree should be viewed as a means to gain knowledge not just a stepping stone to success. It fails to empower as it should; this is because it does not give the learner the experiences that the real workforce does. He argues that from his own experience, learning by "doing" is the best learning strategy since most successful people did not learn in the classroom but the real world.

It is apparent that Stephene understands the role of rhetoric and why all elements have to be employed.

He has gone on to employ logos by use of evidence from various scholarly sources including that by The College Board Policy Center which established that the cost of college education was constantly rising. For instance, the student loan debt rose to $1 trillion in 2011 ((Dale2). Consequently, many people are unable to afford the cost associated with such an education. The author goes further to employ another study carried out by Roksa Jospa and Arum Richard, sociology professors which established that college education did not do much in terms of improving complex reasoning, critical thinking or writing level among students after spending a good time in college. Although the cost of inflation has been factored in this figure, Stephens still uses this as a basis for his argument that college education is wastage of time and money since after spending all this money, many college graduates do not have the skills to succeed in performing their jobs. I think this author has succeeded in adequately supporting his thesis which states that he believes higher education is broken and college education is no longer valuable. In this argument, the author has used ethos by explaining about his success, pathos when he discusses his experiences and logic when he employs findings from various studies.

In contrast, Bridget Terry Long, in her article, “College is Worth it - Some of the Time” claims that college education is worthwhile, though not always offers a platform for one to develop their career. She argues that the value of college education depends on the college attended, debt taken, and field of study (Long1). These are the three elements, according to her, that determine whether a college education is valuable or not to various individuals. The author argues that students who go to college can explore their interests. The writer further claims that college education is valuable because, with it, there is job security and satisfaction. She argues that college graduates earn more than their high school counterparts, find more satisfaction with their jobs and can follow a certain career path. However, this argument is not strong enough as the author admits that "many students do not work in the field of their college major" (Long2). This, therefore, defies the logic of job satisfaction among college graduates and the potentiality of following a certain career path. Nevertheless, Terry Long recognizes the fact that the cost of college and debt is a problem that should be addressed, further supporting the sentiments by Stephen. Finally, the author leaves the audience to decide whether to consider college a good investment or not. Although Long begins with a note of conviction, use of ethos when she describes about her career and profession, she is not able to employ pathos. In other words, her writing does not evoke emotions or feelings to the audience. Furthermore, Bridget Terry Long has attempted to employ ethos by presenting his credentials as an economist to influence his audience on believing the points he passes across. However, despite attributing some of her information to some studies or sources, he has not cited nor referenced them accordingly thus raising credibility issues about his “facts”. There is no way one can utilize information from a particular study whose author or title is not indicated and require your audience to consider them authentic.

In conclusion, it is evident that the way an author constructs and supports their argument is what determines if the message is effectively driven home or not. An author has to have a clear roadmap of their argument and defend it effectively. Both Dale Stephens and Bridget Terry Long have valid arguments about college education. However, Stephens seems to present his points more convincingly and enthusiastically than Terry Long. Stephene has managed to employ all the three elements of rhetoric which makes majority of the readers to be convinced by the message. On the other hand, Long has avoided the use of two critical elements of rhetoric, that is pathos and logs, thus making her arguments weak.


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