Should Everyone Really Go To College?

Presidential candidate Rick Santorum accused President Barack Obama of “snobbery” and elitism after the Democrat made a remark saying that every child should go to college.† Santorum retorted, “We are leaving so many children behind. Theyíre not ready to go to [college.] They donít want to go to college. They donít need to go to college. I was so outraged that the President of the United States [said] every student should go to college….I have seven kids. Maybe theyíll all go to college. But if one of my kids wants to go and be an auto mechanic, good for him! Thatís a good-paying job.”

Could Santorum actually be right?† With news that skyrocking tuition costs could mean an over $400,000 price tag for children born today who want a college degree, there is a point where parents, as well as the students themselves, have to begin asking whether the diploma is worth what it costs to obtain it.

It’s a question many graduates are facing currently, as unemployment for youth hovers at about 25 percent.† With no job prospects in sight, and repayment on student loans fast approaching, many recent grads are discovering quickly what it’s like to have no money to pay the bills, and are putting off dreams of families, and even just a place of their own, while continuing to live with mom and dad.

Sure, every parent wants their child to go continue on to college if he or she wants to, but does the idea that every child should be getting a degree simply add an extra burden?† And does it increase stigma against those who do not have a college degree?† Trade schools, community college classes, training and technical classes all provide specified skills as well, and often open doors to positions that are in high demand, too.

With the days long gone where employers seem interested in hiring an employee with no previous experience in the open position, internships and technical training can even be a step up over a four year degree.† And without overwhelming student loan debt, an employee can also take a lower salary, having less expenses in the budget to cover.

Anyone who wants to get a college degree should be able to, and the costs of a four year degree have ballooned out of proportion in comparison to inflation and other cost of living increases.† An education should not by any means be something that is only accessible to the rich.

But that doesn’t mean that we should also assume that college is in the best interest of everyone, either.

Photo by Marlith (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons


Melanie V.
Melanie Victoria5 years ago

Every 'child' should attend post secondary. As a matter of fact, few people should. A degree is not an indication of how intelligent, ambitious or hard working a person is. The ever increasing amounts of students enrolling in post secondary institutions is not indicative of a healthier economy or a more educated populace. The swollen coffers of the post secondary institutions are symptomatic of capitalism in one of its more devastating forms. Many will argue that a post secondary education improves your chances of employment and increases your earning potential. Yet because of the influ of people receiving degrees, the value of a degree is becoming depressed. The situation will only become more dire and we will have a society of highly educated people working in low skill and low paying jobs. How can this be healthy or benefical to society? A populace of dissastified/unemployed people is bound to be volatile. If we could remove the prestige commonly associated with holding a degree and relegate receiving higher education to a life choice among several, less people would feel a compulsion to attend post secondary. We need to respect the so-called blue collar and/or low paying jobs and quit stigmatizing those who are not wealthy. Our obsession with wealth and status is the culprit behind this unfortunate situation. If we wish to heal our society and ensure that nearly everyone is employed, we must change the way we think...

SeattleAnn S.
Ann S6 years ago

We should have an academic track or a trade track for students to choose what they'd like to do or what they are better suited to do. I don't like the idea that anyone whether they are just a jerk looking for money and prestige or a someone who sincerely wants to care for people can become a nurse or doctor. Kids should have more options and parents not trying to shove them in one direction or another for their own edification.

Gillian Dunn
Gillian Dunn6 years ago

Ideally, yes - everyone should go - but not everyone can. Forget lack of funding or resources, but some people are simply not cut out for it. University, even more so. Some people cannot handle the demands and the pressure. It's not for everyone, even though it should be.

Chad A.
Chad A6 years ago

A modest proposal: let's try what works! Germany has a system where some people are given vocational education that leads to good jobs and others go to different types of college that again lead to gainful employment. This is not a perfect system, but it makes a lot more sense than our current approach, of using a college education as a marker of class status and/or enforcer of economic discipline.

Roger K.
Roger K6 years ago

As a retired high school principal and university faculty member I have no doubt that not everyone should attend a four year college or university. It is a fact some students are not able to deal with the level of abstraction that four years of college requires. Others do not have the desire to work in fields that demand 4 years or more of study. We do a great injustice to many students, and our society, by continuing to push the myth that all students must attend college. It is true that if you wish to maximize your earnings; study beyond high school is a big help; and failure to obtain a high school diploma is a major barrier to success today.
These things said, we need to develop an educational system which provides a wide variety of pathways to success for everyone willing to make the effort. The selected path must be the individuals choice; made with the support and guidence of educators and family. "One size" never fits all! Our education system fails to many students because we do not understand this simple truth.

Wendy J.
Wendy Jewell6 years ago

I could not go to college once out of high school for financial reasons. I started working as an admin and have worked harder than anyone else around me to finally reach a professional level position. And though I have taken 1-year of college courses through my employer I don't believe I will ever finish my degree since the amount of time and energy I put into my job leaves little time for long hours of studying. Now in my 50's I do the same level work as my colleagues in their 30's but I am paid approximately $10K less annually. I think President Obama was really saying everyone should have the ability to go to college and get a degree. I wish I would have had that opportunity to go to college so I could receive equal pay for the same work.

Aimee Polekoff
Aimee Polekoff6 years ago

I think President Obama meant that everyone should get higher education, and not just right out of high school work at the fast food restaurant for the rest of their lives. I also think he did not say it right, and college is not for everyone.

This does not mean that I prefer Santorum to Obama, though.

Dijana D.
Dijana D6 years ago

very good article! as a soon-to-be college grad, this issue is of great concern to me. im starting to worry that i wont be able to pay off my loans

Paula L.
Paula L6 years ago

Leave the choice of college or no college to the individual Mr. President!

Jan O.
Jan oneal6 years ago

College should be a priviledge earned through academics, and be available to those wanting to seriously go to college for the education, not to play as so many sadly fritter away their scholarships. Those who had the ambition and qualifications are denied by these inconsiderate students.
Many are not suited to go to college due to academic considerations as well as undesirable personality traits. Ir they wish to follow other pursuits. We need top notch mechanics, plumbers, electricians, etc. Trade schools should not be looked at as second best, but first choice for those with the right aptitudes.
College degrees dont guarantee large salaries, and should not be the primary factor for going to college. Many tradesman make more than college grads and probably enjoy providing the skills that are needed as well as knowing they did not have to go to college to make a good income.
Snobbery in this country that lessens a man's value, if not a college grad is a sad commentary on our moral integrity.