Jun 16, 2013

Does a College Education Matter Besides Getting a Better Job?

The graduation speeches are probably done by now and college graduates are seeking their jobs where they can utilize the education they're certified to have. Well, we should ask, what is education and what is necessary?

Of course, it includes vocational training--the kind of knowledge a person needs to enter a specific profession. This is especially true in the non-liberal arts majors. The specific, the procedural steps necessary for a particular job have been acquired by the graduate in some degree of competency. A liberal arts student, in theory, can have a wider range of jobs that require a general competency, though such jobs pay less in general.

Many students aren't interested in a general education outside their major (vocational training in mind), because they don't see the need for ..extraneous knowledge. But, why is this general but higher knowledge necessary? Because, we live in a society where citizens are called to make judgments on important issues, including electing leaders. Leadership matters. Elections matter. But, it's also the general sentiment of the population that affects the direction and the priorities of the country.

Higher intelligence is developed through training of the mind. Judgment skills, confidence, and, yes, the interest in knowledge (outside the gossip type) is something that a person should have. Attitude and mindset are something a person has for ever so it's important to be the well-adjusted. Life is about making judgments all the time. Personal attitudes matter too. The ability to meet deadlines, to be motivated to complete a task and do it well; to be exposed to the unfamiliar and make sense of it.

Take a look at some of the major issues of concern today:
  • Wealth allocation, income distribution, who should pay taxes and how much, etc.
  • Immigration
  • Religion in the public square
  • Reproductive choice/abortion
  • Science, what it is and isn't; what to teach as science in school
  • Gun control
  • Role of the US in the international affairs
  • Constitutional issues, including right to privacy/government surveillance, and security
How people form opinions on such issues has something to do with their education, level of  exposure to the rational process, knowledge of history, and own confidence. 

College education may not be necessary for everyone but we still need to make it available to the poor and middle class and not return to the older days whereas only the socio-economic elites got a higher education. Student debt is larger than credit card debt in the US. It's a bubble about to burst, and it's unsustainable. 

Of course having a good-paying job is a liberating experience--when some of the basic needs are met because there's a decent income. Yet, in my opinion, life should be more than having a job--even a job you really like. It's should be like a journey with lots of worthwhile experiences. It should be about being aware of choices and even creating new ones; blazing new paths to personal fulfillment. I think having some good fundamentals, many of which can be acquired and honed though formal education, is a advantage. The effort is worth the outcome, because the benefits are ever-lasting. 

Enjoy this summer.