The Value of a College Education

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Natalie Ruiz
February 22, 2013
Eng 300
The Real Value of a College Education
In today’s society, nearly every senior high school student is expected to continue their education by going to college. Campuses are admitting the highest number of freshmen than ever before while at the same time cutting down on the amount of class offered. Therefore, it is no surprise that the value of a college education has declined in the last couple years in respect to gaining academia knowledge; however, I believe it still holds great value in other aspects. A college education is not just beneficial for landing that great paying job; I believe it is also beneficial for personal growth, character, social interactions, and networking. Going to college and receiving a degree is empowering, but in order to increase the value of a college education, the problem within the system must first be addressed. In “Academically Adrift,” written by Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa, the two authors discuss the reasons for a decline in higher learning. One of the first reasons mentioned is the lack of effort and desire students have to go to college or stay enrolled in college. They state that many high school students and young adults are practically “expected” to go to college regardless of their effort put in high school or their grade point average. This has an alarming affect on the students’ academic performance their first year in college. Arum and Roksa write, “Although growing proportions of high school graduates are entering higher education, many are not prepared for college-level work and many others have no clear plan for the future.” In a study done by James Rosenbaum, 46 percent of the sample, consisting of more than two thousand high school seniors, agreed with the statement: “Even if I do not work hard in high school, I can still make my future plans come true.” However, in another study summarizing the experiences of most freshmen, the majority agreed with: “I just wasn’t ready. I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do.” The impact on this “college for all” mentality has caused many ill-prepared and unqualified students to drift through college by any means necessary, and that almost always includes setting the bar low enough to pass with that C. Take me for example. I am currently in my last semester of school with an overall gpa of 3.1 (which is ok considering I’m a math and finance major). However, I know that it could’ve been much better. I know that what screwed me over was my freshman year. I ditched class often, I did my homework with minimal effort, and studied for exams just a couple hours the night before. I ended up with straight C’s, maybe a B here and there, all due to the fact that I wasn’t prepared for college; and not only that, I simply didn’t even care. I wasn’t sure what I wanted then, so why try hard? I believe many incoming students have this kind of mentality. There is simply no ambition, no motivation, and no desire to be in school, which causes many students to become academically adrift, or worse, just fail.

In a similar case, Professor X also mentions that his students have no desire to be in his class. In his piece, “In the Basement of the Ivory Tower,” he writes as a college English professor who notices that his students have little to no motivation to be in his classroom to learn. He works at a “college of last resort” where many students simply just landed in because it was conveniently located between home and work. He states, “Those I teach don’t come up in the debates about adolescent overachievers and cutthroat college admissions. Mine are the students whose applications show indifferent grades and have blank spaces where the extracurricular activates would go.” Many students take Eng 101 and 102 not because they want to, but because they have to. Many of his students need the credits before becoming state troopers or qualifying for raises, and others need it for advances at work. Whatever the...
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