The Real Purpose of a University Education
All my life I knew I would be attending college. There never seemed to be any other option available as far as I knew. I never really stopped to think about whether or not it was necessary for me, or why it was so important; I was just funneled into the college curriculum in high school. I have attended the University of Arkansas for three years now, and have heard two main arguments over the purpose of a college education. One is that college is a place to train for a job, and the other is that college should be an institute of higher learning with no real focus on a future job. Challenged to form an opinion on this matter, I finally decided that neither side is absolutely right. In fact, I decided that the “purpose” of college should not even be an issue. College is what the student makes it. However they view college, all of the students will come out with some very similar experiences and benefits.
I often hear professors grumbling about students who don’t value learning for the sake of learning. They feel that students who view college as job training may as well be in some vocational school, leaving university life for the more “enlightened” among us. This seems ridiculous to me. The majority of people in the United States will have to get jobs in order to support themselves or their families until retirement. So, you may as well plan to get a good job that pays well and you enjoy. What better place to plan and train for a future job that college? First of all, college provides students with an opportunity to explore different subjects and to find out what they truly love doing. Also, according to a 1994 College Board Study, college students will make an average $600,000 more than a person without a college education in their lifetimes. So why not use college to get yourself set up in a nice job?
I’m not saying that people who enjoy learning and attend college simply to gain as much knowledge as possible are wrong. College is a place where learning is encouraged and students have the time and resources to absorb as much as possible. There are teachers who are available to offer guidance to interested students. When else in life will you have someone whose job is to try to make you a more cultured, intelligent human being? There is a great deal of value in this point of view. There is no reason why a person shouldn’t want to learn. I consider myself to be one of these people. College has nothing to do with my future career. After graduation I plan to go to culinary school, but I want to attend college. Why waste my time and money here when it has nothing to do with what I will be doing for the rest of my life? I love to learn. I could just as easily be off training for my future job, but I think that college has some certain benefits that I do not want to miss out on.
These two basic ideas about college conflict in a lot of ways. For example, there...