February till April. These are the dreaded months, or, for some, jovial months, of college acceptance letters. We take these letters as some kind of divine wording of letters. A simple congratulations can conjure up twenty “likes” on facebook, and even more smiles in reality.
However, why are we, the students, the one revering colleges as something that is a must-have? For one, what would colleges be without the schools of anchovies bustling for the college scene? Obviously, not much. The entire point of a college is to educate intellectually, and even perhaps even more importantly, socially. People tend to learn social norms in new schools. The entire concept of education is undermined when we glorify these institutions, by claiming how difficult receiving an acceptance letter is. The status of these colleges, therefore, become much like a brand name – something of Burberry or Louis Vuitton. The problem with the latter is simple: an overpriced object with little quality, and only name recognization.
With rising costs of colleges, one has to wonder whether the “American Dream” can even be followed by stepping through the gateways of higher education. Many colleges, and average ones at that, cost up to the higher spectrum of 30,000 dollars. Over four years, the debt piled up, assuming one is not the heir of Microsoft or Apple, is 120,000 dollars. After factoring financial aid, scholarships, college savings, and other sources of money, the average debt among college graduates stands at 21,000 dollars. That may not seem like a money, but six digit number is about half the annual salary of an average college graduate with a bachelors degree, again, ASSUMING you find a job right out of college.
The common ideology of the rising costs of colleges is to find cheaper, yet quality-proven, schools. For New Yorkers, that means the state universities; New York City residents have the option of also applying for city universities. True, these colleges hand out decent education for a low price, but increasing competition mitigates any hopes of receiving such an education with poor grades; even people with decent SAT scores and high school averages end up being rejected.
Another reasoning to justify loans and coming out in debt for college is amount one can learn from attending a four year undergraduate program. How much of that is exactly true? Perhaps only 64%. According to a book, Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses, after four years, 36% of graduates have learn absolutely nothing.
So I don’t understand it. There are plenty of other reasons to condemn going to college, yet society venerates college as something sacred and necessary. Sure, I’m looking forward to continuing my education, but amount of attention schools receive is unjustified with the rising tuition costs, competition, and quality of education. Come fall 2011, I’ll probably be attending a college. I can only wonder, then, whether these schools deserve each student’s dedication and effort of earning a spot in that specific university.