The College Advantage
As a recent college graduate, I am beginning to question that common phrase of “The College Advantage.” As far back as I can remember into my schooling, I had the feeling of being expected to go to college. I come from a fairly high achieving family and attended school in an excellent district, so the indoctrination of the college advantage came from everywhere. While I can honestly say that I was never truly pressured by my parents to receive straight A’s or to attend college, it was just always something I subconsciously expected. My older siblings were all top of the line students and left a high standard for me to follow. I set my standards high and often caused myself undue stress. After five years of college and two bachelor’s degrees, I am questioning the necessity college.
Okay, so I may not truly question the necessity of college; I question the major importance and push for it. Nowadays, our high schools prepare students for basically one thing, college. I feel I can be critical of this for a few reasons: I’m only five years out of high school, I attended college, and I am licensed to teach high school. I realize that it may seem ironic for an educator to be questioning the importance of education, but I am also a realist. Not all people are cut out to attend college. Do you need a college education to drive truck or pour concrete for a living? Now, this isn’t a knock at people doing manual labor and blue-collar work. I have a tremendous amount of respect for those positions. I have worked summers pouring concrete, paving with asphalt, and putting in storm pipe. I understand and appreciate labor, but most jobs like that require no actual college education. They simply need some training, which can generally be done best on the job through hands on experience.
So why are we pushing everyone towards college? I realize the amount of jobs requiring higher education has grown exponentially over time. The work force is becoming more competitive and people need a way to put themselves ahead. However, why can’t we let students make that choice a little earlier in life? If someone has no desire to ever attend college, have a separate set of classes in high school. Let them take classes that focus more on a career such as carpentry or as a mechanic. These sorts of programs are becoming fewer and fewer due to the lack of money in our education system. In other nations, programs such as these are far more common. Some countries make this divide as early as fifth grade.
Maybe this seems pessimistic or like I’m taking a shot at the over-priced cost of receiving an education. Maybe I’m just bitter because I have two degrees and no job due to this bad economy. Or maybe I make a good point. I know plenty of successful people who have no college education. Even more importantly, I know plenty of happy people without a college education. We push for college because you can get a better paying job. Maybe we should quit being so greedy and realize that money doesn’t buy happiness. It’s important to find a profession that you love, whether or not it requires a college education. Personally, I value education and believe it was the best thing for me, but I cannot honestly say that “The College Advantage” applies to everyone.