Over the past few months I’ve expanded the purpose of this blog from writing what I know or don’t know about writing to writing about what’s impacting my own life. Having a son who is two years from graduating high school, the purpose of college has been weighing on my mind recently.
There have been many articles out decrying the amount of student loans owed by people who have graduated and how expensive it is to attend college. The last few days have brought articles with a more personal touch discussing individual stories of how students weren’t able to attend the college of their dreams because of lack of funding and the sacrifices parents were making to make sure their students weren’t graduating with student loan debt. Some things bothered me about two of these stories. One of the stories talked about how the student was devastated they had to settle for a less expensive college. I looked back at what the cost was and was flabbergasted at the price. Is this what we have trained our students to expect–that the only good college education is one that is expensive? The other story talked about how a student was attending an Ivy League school, and the extreme sacrifices her mother was making so her daughter could go there. The per year cost was over $60000, and my first thought was ‘Was there ever any kind of conversation about going to a less expensive school? What about going to a community college for the first two years to get basic courses out of the way?’ I was able to answer my question almost immediately. The student probably did not see it as desirable to go that route even though the name of the community college would not have appeared on the diploma.
So, what is wrong with this picture? For that, I go back to the original question. What is the purpose of college? Well, I always thought the purpose of college was to get an education and then be able to go into the world, find productive employment and contribute to society. With the number of students who go to college with no idea of what they want to do and the colleges whose aim is to keep them there as long as possible, I think the purpose of college has gone by the way side. And society is at fault too, for training all of us to think that the only good education is an expensive education. For me, I don’t believe that is true at all, and that is what will be in the forefront of my mind as we begin the college journey with our older son.