In a recent speech, President Barack Obama declared that “every student should go to college,” but according to a recent blog post by the Wall Street Journal, Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum was outraged by Obama’s remarks accusing the president of “elitism” and “snobbery.”
“Who are you to say that every child in America goes to college,” Santorum said in a speech while campaigning at New Hampshire’s Saint Anselm College. “I have seven kids. Maybe they’ll all go to college. But if one of my kids wants to go and be an auto mechanic, good for him. That’s a good-paying job.”
Albeit good intentioned, the president’s broad announcement of every student going to college proved to be both unrealistic and naïve. Much like Santorum said, not all students are prepared to go to college, not all students want to go to college and not all students need to go to college.
But one major factor comes into the play at the mere utterance of the word “college” – finances.
Higher education is a multi-billion dollar industry that is losing government funding each year. In addition to weakening funds for education, the rate of unemployment in the United States is at roughly 9 percent – approximately 5 percent higher than 10 years ago. If Obama wishes for every student to go to college, he will need to do a lot more to ensure that everyone is given that opportunity. Similarly, if Santorum doesn’t feel that every student should pursue higher education, he will need to provide more jobs for those entering the work force.
Students considering higher education need to do so with some type of vision, for not every career path requires a college degree. Freshman architecture major Jen Mount has seen firsthand how college can affect ill-prepared students.
“I have a friend that dropped out after the first month because it was not for her and she didn’t need it,” Mount said. “I want to study architecture. I definitely need to go to college for that.”
Most students are pressured to go to college right after high school. With the teetering economy and rising standards for future generations, parents and teachers alike tend to make the extra effort toward putting the idea of higher education in the minds of today’s students. Trade and vocational schools are usually absent from those conversations.
An air traffic controller boasts a six-figure salary while baring the responsibility of monitoring planes entering and departing an airport to prevent collision while keeping track of weather conditions to avoid delays and issues. This $130,000-plus salary is one example where specialized training and a high-risk situation can rank higher than a degree.
With their minds focused on college due to the influence of peers, teachers and parents many students blindly enroll in an institution only to ultimately regret their decision because they were unaware of the other options available after high school. You’d be surprised how many students are drudging through college for the sake of their parents.
Many different factors go into the success of higher education for any particular person. Those factors can range from the college one attends, mindset of the student or parental influence. Higher education is not only a tool to gain advanced knowledge, but it’s also a place where many are able to open their minds and hearts to discover their passions, laying the foundation for the rest of their lives. If a student isn’t mature enough to begin that process, college can wait.
If one has the opportunity to not attend college and still be very successful, then by all means follow the dream. Ultimately, college is meant to be an aid, not a deterrent.
Najee Clancy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.