College education in the history of the United States has evolved rapidly. Prior to World War II, just a few Americans had gained college education and this constituted a few among the elite in the society. This however changed steadily after the war and college education became necessary as most of the jobs in the United States required applicants to have college degrees. Today, more than sixty percent of jobs available in the United States require at least a college degree. However, it is questionable whether it is viable to send all high school graduates to colleges just to get these jobs when the cost is increasing and a good number of them cannot keep these jobs for long due to laxity in their college studies (Cabrera, A. F., & La Nasa, S. M., 2000). In this paper, I will look at the reasons for and against mandatory college education in the US and make assertion with regards to the same.
Necessity of College Degrees in America
The need for college education for all Americans is clear to a majority of Americans, both in school and those out of school. Even the leaders are not left behind with president Obama being an advocate of college education for all Americans who graduate from high school. Almost every American goes to high school and graduates. It is however a different story when it comes to college as of today, out of five students who graduate from high school, two will join a four year college degree program and out of this an approximate of twenty two percent is likely to drop out (Cabrera, A. F., & La Nasa, S. M., 2000).
Some years back, a fraction of Americans could curve their way into the American job market with basic high school education without seeing the need to progress further. This population still exists in American job markets but the trend is slowly diminishing. There is a culture of college education being cultivated in America and among Americans in that a good number of all those who are in school aspire to get at least a college degree as the last step in their studies (Mike, 2010).
College graduates have a better quality of life as when they are absorbed into the job market compared to those who are taken in just after graduating from high school. Their salaries are much more than their counterparts, they are likely to afford good food and also live healthy lives. They are also likely to afford lucrative healthcare insurance and finally save for pensions during their ages of retirement (Mike, 2010). This simply goes to stress the importance of college education for every American citizen.
In the debate about the necessity of college education, some Americans may argue that college education is not that necessary owing to the numbers of people in the American job market with high school education. It is indeed true that in the nineteenth century most workers in the American job market were employed with basic high school education. However, these were taken into semi-formal or informal sectors of the job market. Looking at their fortunes from the onset of the new millennium to date, they are becoming deem and a future without college education is unthinkable. To highlight this; most of them rarely get job promotions or even salary increment while economic times are changing and there is need to adapt (Mike, 2010).
It has been pointed out from other quarters that most of the students who enroll in the four year college programs learn very little in these institutions and this is evidenced later when they get employed (Cabrera, A. F., & La Nasa, S. M., 2000). The college papers make the process of finding a job easier for them but sticking around becomes difficult because of the little skills gained.
The cost of college education has also been a serious issue when it comes to the debates as to whether college education should be mandatory for every High School graduate in America. Students are facilitated through government loans which they have to pay off as working citizens. There is no escape route as this debt has to be paid even in bankruptcy and thus it is argued that it makes little sense to go through a system that will be least beneficial in the future and also leave by the frustration of paying for the same even with meagre jobs such as being clerks or even waiters. It is not worth it (Cabrera, A. F., & La Nasa, S. M., 2000).
Perhaps many have not realized the current reality associated with college education (Mike, 2010). It is almost every parents wish that their children make the transition from high school to college. This is what high school teachers will try to implement as they will push the largest percentage possible to the colleges. However, apart from the economic reality, the also need to wake up to the reality of total ruin occurring to their children may be total ruins at the end of the four year program (Mike, 2010). This is because of the lifestyle most college students adopt that keep them away from academic activities but engage in activities such as drinking and partying all through.
Not all students should be forced to get a college degree, this should be a reserve for those motivated by a career goal. It is these sort of students who can engage themselves deeply in the their studies so as to get the requisite skills to pursue their dream careers unlike many who join college lazy, narcissistic attitudes (Mike, 2010). This way, colleges will remain serious as in the past and produce productive students who will add something new to the job market.
The article ‘If you’ve got a trade, you’ve got it made’, is of the same school of thought as the antagonists when it comes to the need of transition from high school to college. There is a suggestion that vocational training in American High Schools can do just as better as enrolment in college. The rationale for this kind of argument is the unpractical nature of college education and major focus on securing white collar jobs and completely leaving out blue collar jobs (Mike, 2010).
Considering everything on average, statistics show that it is worth it to have a college degree in the US than to be without a college degree. The earnings of those with college degrees as seen earlier are higher than those with basic high school education and so is the employment rate. In as much as there are disadvantages in rushing every high school graduate into colleges, on a weighing scale; college education is worth it (Cabrera, A. F., & La Nasa, S. M., 2000).
It is encouraging that in as much as there is opposition to initiatives to drive all American high school graduates into colleges for four year degree programs, the opponents see a positive motive in the move. What those who oppose the move try to pass across is the destruction occurring to some of these students in colleges, the economic reality of college education and the deaf ear given to blue collar jobs in the high school curriculum. It is however clear that most of American citizens with higher education and in white collar jobs earn more and command quality leaving as compared to those in blue collar jobs. Thus, the need to increase the enrolment of American student into colleges offering four year degree programs is more imminent today than it has ever been before (Mike, 2010).
Making a personal statement after considering the (pro and anti) arguments; I would state that each student should be considered on his/her own merit for enrolment into college degree programs. The goals of every student should be considered and the skills required to achieve these skills. This should be identified by the families who bear the cost of college education and the career and guidance teachers in their schools, so that only the students who would add value to their high school education are sent to college degree programs.
There should also be other means devised for those students who will not make the cut under this suggestion. This include vocational training in high schools, admission into less expensive colleges that offer training in skills needed for the current job market or any other institution that offer scholarly programs and economic aid to the students towards the course of their education.
If the government and parents insist on having college education for American youths graduating from high school as president Obama supposes; the policy makers at both state and federal levels of government should ensure that investment is made towards American colleges to ensure that it becomes not only cheap but provides the students with skills exemplary to any other institution.
In a nutshell, most of the job opportunities available in America today require at least a minimum qualification of a college degree. This requires those who are in school to enrol in colleges so as to qualify for these jobs. The life of a college graduate in the US is likely to be rosy, with good salaries, insurance and a pension plan. However, not all can make it into colleges and this calls for vocational training so as to aid them into various job opportunities. Some of the students who enrol into colleges also gain little while incurring a lot in costs. It should not only be a requirement that students enrol into colleges but this should be of benefit to the student in every aspect.
Mike, Rustigan(January 13, 2010). ‘If you’ve got a trade, you’ve got it made’, Los Angeles Times
Cabrera, A. F., & La Nasa, S. M. (2000). Understanding the college‐choice process. New directions for institutional research, 2000(107), 5-22.