I’ve posted previously on an issue that’s been in the news lately — people who have been in college telling others that they don’t have to go because they won’t need a degree for their job (see Instead Of Encouraging Students To Skip College, How About If We Help Them Get There & Graduate?)
The New Yorker Magazine weighed in on the issue this week, in a column titled Learning By Degrees:
The skip-college advocates’ contention—that, with the economic downturn, a college degree may not be the best investment—has its appeal. Given the high cost of attending college in the United States, the question of whether a student is getting his or her money’s worth tends to loom large with whoever is paying the tuition fees and the meal-plan bills. Even so, one needn’t necessarily be a liberal-arts graduate to regard as distinctly and speciously utilitarian the idea that higher education is, above all, a route to economic advancement. Unaddressed in that calculus is any question of what else an education might be for: to nurture critical thought; to expose individuals to the signal accomplishments of humankind; to develop in them an ability not just to listen actively but to respond intelligently.
I couldn’t agree more. We need to rethink the purpose of an education. Why do people get an education?