The Meaning of Higher Education

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The true purpose of higher education
Whether it is in a developed country or in a developing one, higher education is a crucial and decisive part to the development of any societies. Higher education provides knowledge necessary for people so that when they graduate they can do well in their jobs and professions. So what exactly is the true purpose of higher education? Graduating from a good college with a high GPA does not provide anyone with a guaranteed success because the true purpose of college-level education is to teach people how to think. The most successful people do not always graduate from top-ranked universities. Joe Queenan listed some famous examples in his “Matriculation Fixation”: “Bill Gates, David Geffen, Michael Dell, Graydon Carter and Madonna are all college dropouts. Ronald Reagan attended tiny Eureka College, while Warren Buffet went to Football U in Lincoln, Neb.” (Queenan 380) There are in total more than 4,000 public and private colleges in US and there is a ranking of them. Most people have a wrong belief that if they attend higher ranked colleges, they can be guaranteed a rich, full life. Queenan wrote: “Such individuals believe that securing admission to a top-flight university provides a child with an irrevocable passport to success, guaranteeing a life of uninterrupted economic mirth” (Queenan 379). In fact, it is not always true. I agree that higher ranked universities may provide a better environment to develop, but they do not include all the best students. Many smart and talented students cannot go to good universities not because of their academic ability, but because their financial state just allows them to go to lower ranked and cheaper ones. Good land does help, but a good plant itself is still the most important. Furthermore, success does not just depend on intelligence, it depends a lot more on social skills, communication skills, creativity, diligence, etc. That’s why, Queenan wrote: “In real life, some children get the finest education but still become first-class screw-ups”; “Some of those boys and girls who are most likely to succeed are going to end up on welfare or skid row” (Queenan 379). The ones who get the best education may not be the most successful ones. For example, one student who can study well, get into a top school but he feels satisfied with himself and becomes lazy, another one who can study not as good, get into a lower ranked school but he is more hard working. The second student is most likely to be more successful than the first one. The incorrect thoughts that the rank of the school or our intelligence will decide our chance of becoming successful are corrupting the true purpose of higher education. Beside the rank of the school we study and our smartness, our grades are regarded as the most important achievement after 4 years of colleges. Along our long road of education, our academic abilities are graded. Consequently, the transcript becomes a kind of proof and acknowledgement for our ability. However, what is the point of getting high grades if we forget the knowledge right after the final exam of a course? The grades do not help us do the job; it is the knowledge and skills we study that help. Roberta Borkat’s “A Liberating Curriculum” is her idea about giving students inflated grades and positive comments that they have not earned: “All students enrolled in each course will receive a final grade of A” (Borkat 340). She explained her idea: “Under my plan both students would be guaranteed an A. Why not? They have good looks and self-esteem. What more could anyone ever need in life?” (Borkat 341). Most of her students did not care about knowledge; they just cared about at the end of the semester they will get an A, B, C, D or F. She believes that it would be much easier if she could just give away an A to everyone without wasting her students’ time to finish papers and her time to grade them. Maybe it was just an intention and...
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