|March 6th, 2014||#1|
College Isnt for Everyone
College Isnt for Everyone
by: Jeremy Andenberg
“A college education unfits rather than fits men to affairs.” –Andrew Carnegie, 1901
Over one hundred years ago, one of the richest and most successful men in America, Andrew Carnegie, thought that college was not only unnecessary, but actually detrimental for the average young man. At that point in our country’s history, only 4% of young people attended college. What changed?
In America today, it’s often assumed that most young adults will attend college after graduating high school. It’s just what you’re supposed to do. Even discussing anything to the contrary is often met with backlash, as is evidenced in the comments on a guest article we published earlier this year about testing out of even a semester of college . The reality, however, is that the situation in America here in 2014 for graduated high schoolers is much different than it was 100 years ago, 50 years ago, and even just 10 years ago.
This is the first of three articles that will take a look at whether our modern ideal – that college is the best path for everyone – is really valid. While there are plenty of alternative college options out there (which we’ll discuss in-depth in the third article in the series), we’ll largely be discussing the necessity of the 4-year college, as this is often seen as the “best” option after high school. It’s what the kids with the highest test scores do, it’s what supposedly gives you the most income potential, and it still carries a prestige that simply isn’t found in community colleges or trade schools.
You may be thinking, “Of course college is necessary!” and you certainly wouldn’t be alone in that. There is, however, a growing population, both young and old, that is starting to question this assumption. This is even evidenced just by a quick look at what Google wants to fill in when searching “is college…”:
Six of those top 10 results are questioning the worth and necessity of college! Clearly there are people asking this question, even if they’re in the minority for the time being.
As of 2013, there are about 14 million students enrolled in 4-year institutions, and that number is expected to jump up to 20 million in the next few years. While some of these are older, non-traditional students, most of them are made up of the 70% of high schoolers who attend college immediately after graduating (this particular statistic includes 2- and 4-year colleges).
Over two-thirds of all high school students believe (whether on their own or through cultural pressures) that college is the best choice for them following high school. The college experience has become as American as apple pie and baseball. It’s just what you do.
Is it really the best option, for every single person though? It wasn’t always the case in the history of America that the majority of 18-year-olds would trot off to college in the fall. In fact, it’s actually quite recent, only taking hold from about the 1920s and on (and some would argue much later than that, even). For over 300 years prior, college served a pretty specific demographic of people, rather than being a universal, automatic stop on the conveyer belt to adulthood.
Our goal with this series is not to bash the college experience. Rather it is to present objective reasoning as to why a particular student may or may not consider attending college. What we want to do is examine and soften the iron-clad assumption that it’s simply what you do. In the end, students should thoughtfully engage their reasons for attending college, and make conscientious decisions. Certainly, that’s hard to do as an 18-year-old, but it is possible, especially with support from parents and mentors.
*Note: While there are technically differences in the definitions of the terms “college” and “university,” in this series of articles, I’ll use them interchangeably. For what we’ll be discussing, there is no real need to differentiate, as they’re both essentially known as 4-year learning institutions.
The History of College in America
In this first post, we’re going to take a brief look at the history of higher education in America. What was it that changed in the last century that created the modern demand for the college experience? How did it transition from an institution for the wealthy upper echelon of society, to a near-universal rite of passage?
As author Daniel Clark asks in Creating the College Man , “Might not our present debates about the purpose and place of college education (what value it adds) be advanced by a deeper understanding of the genesis of the American embrace of college education?”
As is evident throughout most Art of Manliness articles, we rely on history to inform the fullest understanding of the present. To ask the question of whether or not college is necessary, we need to first see how we got to this point. It certainly wasn’t always necessary…has our society changed enough for that experience to now be an unassailable requirement, or should we perhaps question some of the norms we’ve come to believe? Below you’ll find an overview of the history of higher ed in America. Let it inform you about our present situation, and provide deeper understanding of how and why attending college came to carry the weight that it does today.
A Timeline of Higher Education Pre-1944
We’re going to break down this timeline of college in America to pre-1944 and post-1944. We’ll find out why exactly further on, but for now, learn a little bit about how the typical American college came to be.
1636 — Harvard founded. It was the first college in the colonies that were to become the United States. It roughly followed the model of Cambridge and Oxford in England (two of the world’s oldest institutions), as the Massachusetts Bay Colony had many residents who attended those schools. To a large degree, Harvard focused on training clergymen in order “to advance learning and perpetuate it to posterity, dreading to leave an illiterate ministry to the churches.” Training clergymen was
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read full article at source: http://www.lewrockwell.com/2014/03/j...-for-everyone/
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