Is college worth it? It depends.
From a purely financial point of view, a college degree trumps a mere high school diploma without a doubt. In early 2010, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated the average college graduate will make $800,000 more throughout their lives than those without a degree.
According to the College Board, a college degree is more important during an economic downturn as the unemployment rate for college graduates is half that of high school graduates. But this economic downturn is a burden to the financial value of college. Those who graduate from college during a recession see a 9 percent decrease in their initial annual earnings, according to a 2006 study by the National Bureau of Economic Research.
It is still preferable, though, to have a degree and some amount of student debt rather than having no degree and fewer career options and opportunities.
Moreover, the college experience, accompanied by social networking and an opening of the mind, is priceless. College helps students develop analytical, numerical and communication skills that are key for workplace performance and career progression. Comprised of intelligent people from a host of different backgrounds, the network of contacts students compile proves extremely valuable for the duration of their careers.
Due to dramatic change in priorities, however, many colleges are not nearly as “worth it” as they once were.
The recent discussion on this topic in the upper echelons of journalism arose from the publication of the book “Academically Adrift,” by Richard Arum and Josipa Roska, which reveals the drastically diminishing academic value of college and swiftly increasing apathy of students in the United States. As the public high school education system continues to “teach to the test,” many students enter college skilled in regurgitation instead of analysis and critical thought.
Colleges and universities then pressure their professors to direct their teaching style and class structure toward this type of student, since dropouts represent lost tuition money. Gaye Tuchman, a sociology professor at the University of Connecticut, writes in a Jan. 25 New York Times article that she wishes her institution valued professors who teach students well as opposed to those who rake in grants for their lofty research.
In light of all of this information, how does TCU look? Well, many schools have been guilty of putting too much money toward luxurious dorms and recreation facilities and not enough toward academics. There have been many renovations and aesthetic improvements to the TCU campus in recent years, the crown jewel being the current renovation of Amon G. Carter Stadium.
Otherwise, there is very good news for students: “Academically Adrift” also says students from liberal arts education fare better in today’s employment climate.
With core requirements like “literary traditions” and “global awareness” and a mission statement that aims to create ethical, responsible individuals in the global community, TCU embodies Decatur’s description handsomely.
What you want to study, what you can afford, what kind of student you are, the quality and type of school you attend 8212; all of these and other factors largely contribute to the value you squeeze out of your college years. But unless you leave high school with an unstoppable drive to succeed, a willingness for a career path that will be affected by trial and error or an ingenious idea for success, college is the wise choice.
As TCU students, we have made two wise decisions 8212; to come to college and to come to a liberal arts university.
Johnny Adams is a freshman psychology major from Houston.