Higher education’s role in the society has changed in coherence with the demands of the public. In more recent times, higher education itself has become a major economic power and a source of most scientific and technological progress. However, the increasing cost of pursuing higher education has been deterrent in deciding whether to continue education beyond high school. One would question whether the high cost of tuition, the opportunity cost of opting college over full-time employment, and the amassing of debt is, in the long run worth the investment.
It is especially an issue to people who belong to low-income families who barely could live decently as days go by. That is, would they rather send their children to college and go hungry or just work now and be able to survive their daily needs. This paper would lend credence to the argument on why one must opt to pursue a degree. A number of factors shows why higher education is imperative for the individual as well as to the society he belongs to. Pursuing higher education has its economic and social importance. THE ECONOMIC AND FINANCIAL VALUE OF HIGHER EDUCATION
Researches show that the rate of return on investment in higher education is high enough to warrant the financial burden associated with pursuing college degree. On average, college graduates do earn more than high school graduates. According to the Census Bureau, over an adult’s working life, high school graduates earn an average of $1. 2; associate’s degree holders earn about $1. 6 million; and bachelor’s degree holders earn about $2. 1 (Day & Newburger, 2002). These substantial differences in lifetime earnings put the costs of college in perspective – that is, from a realistic point of view.
From tuition, allowances and lodging expenses the cost of higher education is significant. The earnings disparity between the high school graduates and the degree holders would be sufficient to warrant the cost (Day & Newburger, 2002). OTHER BENEFITS OF HIGHER EDUCATION The most effervescent institution there could probably be is the University. It is where ingenious minds and bodies are found. They produce scientific innovations and medical information; they hone novelists and poets; they produce athletes and scholars, managers and entrepreneurs.
At best, colleges provide a setting for thought and analysis. They in some way generate a public sphere for people to learn and discover. Degree Holders also enjoy benefits beyond increased income. The Institute for Higher Education Policy reviews the individual benefits that college graduates enjoy, including higher levels of saving, increased personal/professional mobility, improved quality of life for their offspring, better consumer decision making, and more hobbies and leisure activities (Institute for Higher Education Policy, 1998).
According to a report published by the Carnegie Foundation, non-monetary individual benefits of higher education include the tendency for postsecondary students to become more open-minded, more cultured, more rational, more consistent and less authoritarian; these benefits are also conceded along to succeeding generations (Rowley and Hurtado, 2002). Furthermore, college attendance has been shown to “decrease prejudice, enhance knowledge of world affairs and enhance social status” while increasing economic and job security for those who earn bachelor’s degrees (Ibid.
) Research has also consistently shown a positive correlation between completion of higher education and good health, not only for oneself, but also for one’s children. Indeed, “parental schooling levels (after controlling for difference in earnings) are positively correlated with the health status of their children” and “increased schooling (and higher relative income) are correlated with lower mortality rates for given age brackets” (Cohn and Geske, 1992) THE SOCIAL VALUE OF HIGHER EDUCATION
A number of studies have shown a high correlation between higher education and cultural and family values, and economic growth. According to Elchanan Cohna and Terry Geske (1992), there is the tendency for more highly educated women to spend more time with their children; these women tend to use their time to better prepare their children for their future. In addition to that, their reports say that “college graduates appear to have a more optimistic view of their past and future personal progress.
” The optimistic view in life comes from the uninhibited confidence accorded by the learning from the four walls of the classroom. This is where they would find more about themselves and what they want in life. The professors they meet give them some basis of what more they intend to learn and have. College students may well have already known where they want to be but the people they would meet along their way would inspire them to see more of things to come. The classroom would be a great forum for information and skills through the exchange of individuals’ thoughts that transpire within its walls.
Eventually, the student grows wiser and sees the world from a different perspective. Moreover, benefits of attending college include better workplace efficiency, increased consumption, increased workforce flexibility, and decrease dependence on government financial support (Institute for Higher Education Policy, 1998). The demands of their company could be very well met hence allowing the individual to become a great asset to the company. The ideas that the men and women learn in the classroom will have a great effect to society.
Ideologies that are both radical and conservative could very well define it (Karabell, 1998). The family, being the primary unit of the society, must invest in educating their family members to nurture the relationship more, making them grow to their utmost capabilities. Having a degree would surely make one person realize what more can one do. Impossible would be nothing for someone who has a number of doors for opportunity. Hence, the enhancement of human capital through education and training would deliver inevitable growth for the society as a whole (Karabell, 1998).
CONCLUSION It is evident that a college degree would entail a huge investment but the long-term benefits to individuals as well as to the society at large, appear to outweigh the cost. Numerous opportunities are given to people who have a degree. Although there have been success stories of people dropping out and becoming the world’s richest like Bill Gates, he himself admitted that he was lucky. In the coming years education will prove to be a must. The world seems to have more issues to deal with that require great minds.
With the importance of higher education, people must also never forget their morals and that education is there to reinforce their principles. The principles they have will guide them to realms that students indeed only dreamed of. On the other hand, does college really lead to better jobs? Not necessarily. Perseverance and persistence play a vital role in this part. This can be learned during college but an individual must desire this for himself. Other jobs do not require a degree but this work would normally pay you minimal and opportunities may not be at hand.
It does allow you to have a better life; power to change the world; make you contribute more to this world. Thus far a higher income, better standard of living, and technological literacy might be the most obvious reasons for attending college, they are not necessarily the best, the most reliable, or the most enduring. These things are not what colleges do best, nor are they where the true value of a college education lies. What colleges do best is bring people, smart people, together in an environment where they have time to read, reflect, explore, listen, argue, and especially, stretch their known boundaries.
Cohn, E. , & Geske, T. G. (1992). Private Nonmonetary Returns to Investment in Higher Education. In Becker, W. & Lewis, D. The Economics of American Higher Education. Boston, MA: Kluwer Academic Publishers. Day, J. C. , & Newburger, E. C. (2002). The big payoff: Educational attainment and synthetic estimates of work-life earnings. Washington, DC: Commerce Dept. , Economics and Statistics Administration, Census Bureau. Retrieved on February 15, 2007 from from http://www. census. gov/prod/2002 pubs/p23-210.
pdf Institute for Higher Policy (1998). Reaping the benefits: Defining the public and private value of going to college. The New Millenium Project on Higher Education Costs, Pricing and Productivity. Washington, DC: Author. Karabell, Z. (1998). What’s College For? The Struggle to Define American Higher Education. New York. Rowley, L. L. , & Hurtado, S. (2002). The non-monetary benefits of and undergraduate education. University of Michigan: Center for the Study of Higher and Postsecondary Education.