Why Do We Have College

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Views on College Education One could think of multiple reasons as to why they need a college education. Louis Menand introduces three theories that concern today’s college education in the article “Live and Learn: Why we need college”, found in The New Yorker. As a former Ivy League professor, Menand was never questioned about what he was teaching his students. But while teaching at a public university, he was shocked after a number of students continued to ask him questions such as “Why did we have to read this book?” The interesting question allowed him to create three theories that explain different views of the modern college education.
Menand’s first theory explains that college is a sorting-out mechanism that is based on intelligence. He suggests that college is a “four-year intelligence test”, at the end of which, each student receives a single score in the form of a “G.P.A. that professional schools and employers can trust as a measure of intellectual capacity”. College should be a challenging way to sift through students; a process to find the most academically accomplished students for elite schools and future employers. This theory describes a systematic evaluation of test taking and hoop jumping. Those who favor this viewpoint agree that there are many people that are not prepared for a college education. College has not been always been available to everyone. Menand points out that before 1948, schools such as Harvard and Yale did not depend on this meritocratic way of selecting students, but as the demand for higher education has grown, the use of standardized testing has grown with it. The applicants that are denied might find themselves at public colleges, which have become much more accommodating. According to Menand, “...public colleges enroll almost fifteen million students, private colleges fewer than six million.” The acceptance rate at public colleges make it possible for almost anyone with a high school degree to work toward a higher



Cited: Menand, Louis. “Live and Learn: Why we have college”. The New Yorker. Summer 2011.

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