College isn’t for everyone, I’ve felt that way for a very long time and I stand by it, higher education is not the path for every single person to achieve their dreams, to fulfill some useful function to society, or to provide for themselves or a family. However, for a large faction of Americans that argument has morphed into a growing sentiment that college is not the right path for MOST people, and that simply cannot be true.
How is it that we have come to a point, that so many get visibly annoyed when someone tells us they studied philosophy in college, or that someone majored in an obscure discipline that doesn’t necessarily have a job that aligns with it precisely. It is an unfortunate state of mind that a person who feels comfortable in the argument that degrees that don’t teach what one would consider transferable work skills aren’t worth the time, money, or effort.
Normally, those who make that argument have not themselves studied that subject, or even earned a college degree so their musings must be taken with a large grain of salt, it’s almost like watching sports with… well anyone. Like sitting in a pub listening to all the “experts” tell me what the coach is doing wrong, you know the person getting paid millions of dollars to use their decades of studying and training to lead a team of advanced primates in throwing a cute little ball better than the other grouping of hominids led by their over-paid leader. But ya, my local “experts” with no experience off of their couch or X-Box definitely know better.
The arguments against higher education are getting confused, people are merging the opinions of “college isn’t for everyone,” “college is not worth the cost,” and “college degrees are worthless.” What has emerged is a hybridized quasi-argument promoting this new trend of American anti-intellectualism which has began to run rampant across the country, making people feel that because they are entitled to an opinion that their opinion is inherently just as good as everybody else’s e.g. any flat-eather, anti-vax, or creationist. I call it the “Duck Dynasty/Larry the Cable Guy effect,” people have begun idolizing those reality television stars who mask their bigotry and immaturity under the guise of stalwart religious adherence and false patriotism although they are essentially only a ragtag group of southern bearded Kardashians who happen to love those boom-boom sticks the NRA worships’ like a golden calf. I’m not hating on reality shows, I myself enjoy the occasional trash television, if only to remind myself of the absurdity our species is capable of, I mean we elected one of those reality television stars president for Pete’s sake, what better testament to my argument is there?
What people who take the stalwart anti-college position are missing is, when done correctly, a degree in any discipline is worth the time if it makes you into a critical thinker, an organized researcher, and/or a true academic. I make the argument constantly that the reason we teach STEAM subjects to children and teenagers in school is not to make a world full of American mathematicians, artists and scientists, but to teach people to become critical and creative thinkers.
If you apply yourself to a subject, learn how to solve problems within it’s doctrine those skills will absolutely transfer to other tasks, so when you argue that college’s don’t adequately prepare people for the work force, your argument is effectively a mantra against capitalism rather than higher education, because if businesses are not recognizing or smart enough to see the value in a worker who has a college degree in an unrelated subject, then the error is on the business. Before you mock a women’s study degree, I suggest you find out how hard it is to obtain one, the process of research that comes from writing a 30-page research paper with citations on a subject you are just beginning to learn is an incredible undertaking and worth admiration.
Is there an intrenched atmosphere of elitism with those who have earned a college degree? Sure, we have a long way to go when it comes to valuing other people’s achievements just because they differ from our own. But to get past the absurd system we have in the world where we rank people based on their profession, where some folks in specific careers are given more reverence over others in what we have come to consider lesser jobs, we must start by stopping the ridiculous notion of trying to devalue the incredible achievement of going to and graduating from college. So if you graduate high school and go to college good for you!
If you go to trade school good for you. If you start a business good for you. Or if you jump right into the workforce good for you. I hope we can get back to the place where we valued hard work in others even if we don’t quite understand them, that simpler time when we only judged people based on the kind of car they drive.