Problems with the Current System of Higher Education
The inherent problem with the current ideology surrounding higher education is that it has led to the development of a “credential culture”.
This means that higher education from the point of view of Deresiewicz (2008) is that obtaining a degree is no longer associated with the pursuit of knowledge but rather the pursuit of credentials which in itself undermines the basic tenets of the whole process of education (Deresiewicz, 2008).
The basic tenet of such a development is the belief that, without proper college credentials, a person will wind up with a low paying dead end job.
It is due to this belief that high school graduates who initially cannot pay for their college education due to financial limitations wind up having to rely on student loans, scholarships and financial aid in their attempt to attain a college education.
The Missed Fundamental Point
The fundamental point that Deresiewicz (2008) argues that is missed by government legislators is not that the cost of education is increasing exponentially rather it is whether students actually gain anything from the education they pay for.
As Deresiewicz (2008) indicates, in a regular free market environment, there is a certain degree of relative quality that comes with the cost of a product, the higher the quality the higher the inherent cost of the product purchased.
In the case of education, the increasing costs do not match any subsequent increase in the perceived quality of education. There are many cases when classes are not often taught by professional teachers but rather by teaching assistants or by people undergoing practical training.
Actually, there is no inherent guarantee made by the schools that by gaining a college education, he/she will immediately be entitled with a job commensurate with your degree (Haag, 2011).
Sometimes, it is really difficult to find a job position right after completing the education that corresponds the profession. It is often the case that college students have to start at the very bottom of the company with jobs that do not necessarily entail the knowledge gained in college.
Investing instead of Educating
In one instance, Deresiewicz (2008) makes the argument that the amount of money that goes into a college education, at the current level that it is being taught at, would be better served in other investments that produce an immediate and tangible result.
He does this by comparing the difference in average pay over a lifetime between college graduates and high school graduates and states that the same amount of money used to buy a college education could have been used to invest in the stock market yielding double the average returns of the pay difference between a college and high school graduate (Kelly, 2010).
What must be understood is that this argument bases itself off the fact that a person does not necessarily need to graduate from college in order to become successful.
Some of the richest and most successful men on the Earth never finished their college degrees and the fact remains that there are various alternative paths that can be pursued which can result in the same amount of success.
This is what Deresiewicz (2008) is trying to indicate when he mentions investing, it is not that he wants people to invest per see, but rather he wants them to evaluate the costs of getting into college versus what the outcome would be if they did not and if they would become just as successful.
Lastly, educational value for Deresiewicz (2008) is for him measured in the quality of education received. He argues that since it is usually teaching assistants instead of professors that are doing the teaching, that classes are too large and that professors are unable to establish personal working relationships with students.
This results in a subpar educational experience being given to students despite the exorbitant costs they are forced to pay. One aspect though that he neglected to elaborate on was the relation of a degree to real world job skills.
For example, people with a degree in ancient civilizations actually have a limited job market due to the type of degree attained and as such even if the type of education was the best in the world its overall value is questionable at best.
After reading this article and evaluating the current job market both here and abroad, it would make most people wonder whether anyone will truly get their money’s worth after attaining a degree.
The school cannot guarantee graduates with a job and with the current job market the way it is at the present it is highly likely that once a student graduates, he/she will not be able to get a job for several months.
As such, the return on investment which should be a high paying job probably will not happen for years and at times increases the in doubt the value of a college education.
Deresiewicz, W. (2008). The Disadvantages of an Elite Education: Our best universities have forgotten that the reason they exist is to make minds, not careers. American Scholar, 77(3), 20-31.
Haag, P. (2011). Are Elite Colleges WORTH IT?. Chronicle Of Higher Education, 58(11), B10.
Kelly, B. (2010). Is College Still Worth It? U.S. News & World Report, 147(8), 6-12.