Allow me to preface this piece by saying I realize how ironic my perspective on this topic of college education is. I am taking this advanced placement class, along with many others, and voluntarily succumbing myself to hours of test prep, review sessions, and late nights in order to be accepted into a major university in the near future. I would be devastated if I wasn’t accepted into “the school of my dreams”. Now all that to say, I am also aware of the many negative aspects of higher education in this modern day; I have discouraged many of my peers from applying to college because they “feel like they have to”. The cost of college today has become extremely inflated and debt-inducing, and worse still, the application process is sickeningly competitive.
Most individuals who actually do graduate college are giddy with delight after finally receiving a hard-earned degree, yet all joy fades away when they are exposed to their bank accounts. The gargantuan amount of debt that inevitably ensues for most college attendees is ridiculous and can cause many to ponder if the job received with the degree earned was even worth it. When schools like Harvard were being established so many centuries ago, the only goal of those then-seminaries was purely to educate. Now, colleges have fallen victim to the greedy, capitalistic mindset that so many current companies abide by, and have become nothing more than money-hungry businesses. Campuses across America are being adorned with artificial rock-climbing walls and massive swimming pools, only to attract individuals who could care less about learning and more about being black-out drunk with their roommates. These “educational” institutions realize this, which is why there is such a great disparity between cost and demand. What is even worse is that those who do genuinely desire the higher intellectual level that universities promise still often fall into an economic trap. Many Americans agree that college is far to expensive for anyone to be able to afford. It appears that universities and the American public’s bank accounts have a direct relationship; as the debt increases, so do the college funds. The rising costs of tuition are proving that college is no longer about learning, but about shelling out copious amounts of cash to admissions offices for a thick piece of paper with a fancy spelling of the student’s name and major choice.
There is no doubt that countless scholarships and financial aid opportunities exist, and some would argue that college is rather cheap when economic assistance is considered. Yet this claim is made without any regard to the power that Congress has over how much money can be administered to those lucky enough to qualify for it. In the past, financial aid has been cut by the government, reducing the already minimal amount that students receive. Even if an individual qualifies to receive the support, there is a considerable chance the amount of money received will be far less than advertised.
Unfortunately, this issue stretches far beyond fiscal matters. The extensive and often ruthless process to apply and be accepted into most schools perpetuates the idea that only those who walk across a stage and receive a handshake and a diploma contribute to society. This thought process begins well before senior year. While I may care deeply for some of friends at school, there are undertones of aggression within their academic careers as they all desperately yearn to attend the same prestigious schools. They have been in competition with each other since middle school, taking insane amounts of challenging classes, joining clubs they have no interest in, and playing sports they detest just to add one more thing to their applications. I will never forget the time one of my closest friends asked if I would notify her when my church was going on their next missions trip because she said, and I quote, “that’s the kind of thing colleges like.” Have some high schoolers become so brain washed that they believe it is only important to provide aid to the less fortunate if it looks appealing to secondary education institutions? Many become so pigeonholed in believing that college is the ultimate solution to acquiring a perfect, well-paying career that they look down on jobs that they rely on every single day, like fixing cars and toilets. This is all work fundamental to this society, yet since they don’t require enrolling in pre-requisite classes like “Public Speaking”, they are frowned upon and not seen worthy in comparison to the jobs that desire an embellished slip of paper. Please, tell me again how earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology is more honorable than two years at a trade school for welding. The notion that the key to a successful and fruitful life lies in sitting in a three-hour class two days a week while sharing a cramped dorm with an irritating roommate needs to be admonished.
I suppose I should hope that no college admissions office ever sees this essay, and I should be careful to make sure it ends up nowhere near any potential scholarship opportunities. The wrath against the growing corruption of colleges I feel typically lies dormant and will continue to until I receive the piece of paper with the fancy font of my major and name. While I am still a firm believer that universities are cheating many students – who are truly convinced that their only option in life is to attend an Ivy League – of their money, it is still the responsibility of university graduates and current college students to realize that jobs outside of the realm of higher education institutions are just as crucial to ensuring that the American society remains functioning and united.