Due to the rise in university tuition costs, people debate the value and merit of a college degree.
By Lauren Keuning
Annual tuition at public four-year institutions increased nearly 400 percent since 1971, and 11 percent since 2011, according to collegeboard.org.
While these statistics may be alarming, discouraging college attendance is not the solution to this ongoing issue.
In an online video rant, Nicole Arbour, a YouTuber who posts controversial videos, said a college degree does not amount to anything when it comes to establishing a career and personal sustainability. Her main points included that college is expensive and all the information taught can be acquired on the internet. She included testimonies from three successful business owners who claimed they would hire someone without a college degree.
Data on tuition increases backs her argument of financial burden, but does that make college unnecessary?
Looking at employment rates in comparison to education levels, a degree often leads to a job.
According to the National Center of Education Statistics, 48 percent of 20- to 24-year-olds with less than a high school education were employed in 2016. The employment rate for people with a bachelor’s degree or higher in the same age group was 88 percent.
Barbara Hughes, a Brookhaven College office support services specialist, said the Dallas County Community College District offers students many options to increase their chances of being employed after college, such as classes for non-English speakers, GED programs, hands-on nursing training and computer classes – all free to students pursuing an associate degree.
Hughes said any type of degree, even from a two-year institution, is better than none. “When all things are equal, the person with a degree will be favorable,” she said.
The idea that people can learn a lot of things by researching on the internet is arguable, but college is not just an education. It’s a place to build connections and learn the responsibilities that come with a career, such as self-discipline, respect for authority and how to work with others.
An article published by Rasmussen College with graduate students as subjects, describes several life lessons students can learn when they pursue a degree. In his testimony for the article, Benjamin Houy, creator of an online language learning program, French Together, said, “The biggest lesson college taught me is that I’m fully responsible for everything that happens to me and my success is almost entirely dependent on myself.”
Much like Arbour, Lisa Nielsen, an educator and author of “Teaching Generation Text,” cites unique cases of influential people who didn’t finish or attend college to argue why higher education isn’t necessary. Stories like that of Steve Jobs, Mary Kay Ash, Mark Zuckerberg and J.K. Rowling were used as examples of why people don’t need college to achieve success, Nielsen said.
But these examples don’t speak for the general population seeking success without a degree.
Malcolm Gladwell, best-selling author of “Outliers,” said in his theory of success that its achievement isn’t necessarily relative to talent or even education, but rather accessibility. His 10,000-hour rule states that if someone practices or has access to the field they are pursuing for over 10,000 hours, they will become a professional.
Gladwell examined software geniuses’ pasts to find what made them so innovative in the technology industry. Jobs was the only one who did not attend college, but was presented with unusual circumstances. As a child, he had access to information and hands-on experience from Hewlett-Packard scientists. Bill Hewlett, co-founder of Hewlett-Packard, even gave Jobs spare computer parts, making his experience extraordinarily unique and rare outside of an educational institution.
The odds of being successful in a high-profile career without attending college are equivalent to gaining celebrity status or making a living off YouTube, like Arbour, which, according to BuzzFeed, is a 1-in-505,347 chance.
Encouraging young adults on such a large internet platform to stop attending college because she beat the odds is irresponsible of Arbour. Just like it’s irresponsible of educators like Nielsen.
Young people are easily influenced and the idea of skipping out on higher education is an easy one to run with. But if everyone starts to believe the notion that college isn’t necessary, then I have some concerns regarding our future generations.
With scholarships, financial aid and community colleges’ low tuition costs, school can be affordable.
I applied for and received a Pell Grant this past year and was awarded well over the cost of my annual tuition with money from the government and with no obligation to return the funds.
Along with grants, DCCCD offers over 300 scholarships annually awarding anywhere from $250-$750. Some scholarships are major-driven, but others are broader and obtained through good grades and references. Students can browse them and apply at dcccd.academicworks.com.
We all take different paths in life, so the blanket statement that a college degree is worthless is not universal and should be left up to an individual to determine its worth.