importance of higher education
The importance of higher learning
Higher education has been defined differently by many sources. However, the basic definition is that this is education that is beyond the high school level and spans colleges, technical institutes and vocational learning centers. In the contemporary world, higher education has secured a place as one of the most important elements of a quality lifestyle and most importantly securing a decent job. Parents to children who are in high school have particularly placed emphasis on the importance of college education but, even more, intriguing is the major interest in higher education by minority groups such as the Hispanics and African Americans in the United States. When one analyzes college education, they do so by assessing the difference that it has made to the lives of the people in question. Further, most people think that college education not only seeks to improve the academic qualifications of any individual, it also exposes one to great cultural diversity that many analysts think is important in developing cultural tolerance in the world that is more inclined towards globalization. College education is undoubtedly important to any student in the contemporary world ( Apps and Jerold). Perhaps, higher education has sort of taken the place that high school education initially held in the academic spheres making it too essential to skip. This paper majorly explores the concept of the importance of higher learning coupled with a few arguments as to whether higher education is necessary. Further, this paper reviews various academic articles that touch on the same issue of the importance of higher education.
Higher education has come into sharp focus in recent times due to its growing significance in the world that is rapidly shifting towards full-scale industrialization. Scholars have gone ahead to equate the obtaining of a college certificate to making an extremely low-risk investment. Arguably, the money that is invested in obtaining a college degree can guarantee one very high dividends. When most refer to higher education, they first mention that they are interested in securing a job, but importantly long term career prospects. It is evident that high paying jobs may be tempting for high school graduates. However, in the long term, a college certificate will guarantee job security as well as career growth.
Traditionally, most people have classified higher learning as one of the most important ingredients for leading a successful life. Studies have shown that when people are asked to rate the important things in life, higher education takes the top slot. However, many people have the stereotype that higher education is only for 18-year-olds as opposed to the fact that it cuts across all ages.
Career benefits are numerous in the background of a college certificate. Analysts have argued that people with higher education predictably make more money than their counterparts who have lower levels of education. For instance, a report by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, otherwise known as BLS explored the median earnings of employees varied significantly based on their level of education. Those that have completed high school education earned a median of 651 dollars per week against $ 1108 earned by college graduates. Further, unemployment rates are directly affected by the levels of education. People that have achieved higher education have often been found to have low unemployment rates due to the expansion of the corporate world that has often demanded more employees. Higher education provides one with the opportunity to enhance their careers. It is increasingly easily to switch jobs if one has a college degree compared to if they have a high school certificate. Even with the achievement of a college degree, people are likely to acquire more benefits if they completed more postgraduate courses.
Apart from the financial value, higher learning has been shown to enhance the intelligence of subscribers to this level of education. People that have been through college are considered significantly intelligent compared to those that have just gone through high school or lower levels of learning. Subsequently, the more intelligent an individual is, the more likely they are to live a successful life. A successful life is often measured by the quality of life of an individual in comparison to the general population. This is due to the rationality of making decisions in people who have been educated beyond the college level. In his book, Wechsler’s Measure and Appraisal of Adult Intelligence, 5th Edition Joseph D. Matarazzo explores the differences in the intelligent quotient among people at different levels of education. In his research, he attributes the IQ for high school graduates to be about 105 points on average while that of college graduates was 115 points (Matarazzo 87). And like Linda Gottfredson highlights, “IQ scores predict a wider range of important social outcomes than perhaps any other psychological trait; … bright people have a tail wind in virtually all aspects of life” (Gottfredson and Deary). In this, she seeks to imply that the better the IQ scores an individual have, the more likely they are to live a quality life. The quality of life of an individual will often be improved if they pursued higher education. The individual benefits for college graduates are unmatched. Studies have continually indicated that college graduates significantly had a better quality of life and access to essential services such as healthcare when compared with high school graduates. This has sought to highlight the extent to which college education is important. College education does not only equip individuals with academic knowledge, but it also transforms students into holistic beings who can use college education for better life improvement.
Further, higher education is deemed to provide more life skills to an individual than the absence of it. Higher education is likely to impart essential life skills that will propel an individual towards living a successful life. While at institutions of higher learning, individuals get the opportunity to develop crucial skills such as time management much more compared to the high school level. With the numerous diverse activities such as studying, attending class and leisure, one needs to carefully organize their schedule if they desire to avoid chances of failing out. Time management is the most important aspect of leading a responsible and successful life. This skill comes handy at some point later in life. Too much detail on the issue of time management may tempt one to think that it’s the sole skill that higher learning imparts. Contrary, higher learning offers many other skills that have been given little emphases such as financial management and social relations. Indeed, higher learning centers are the hub of social interaction where people from diverse social and religious backgrounds get to meet. The interaction enables one develop good social skills. Further, social interaction has been identified as among the factors that promote the acquisition of opportunities among scholars.
Higher education has recently been studied in the social spheres. The importance of higher education in the social perspective has enhanced the emphasis on this level of learning. Higher education does not only offer individual benefit. It does more than that. The society is often likely to benefit from aspects of higher education. People that have attained higher education have better chances towards upward social mobility. Higher education has been seen to instill community responsibility among individuals who hold college degrees. For instance, college degree holders are more likely to donate towards community improvement when compared to high school graduates. High social class and higher learning have often been considered inseparable concepts. Higher learning improves one’s lifestyle thereby translating to better standards of living. People from the affluent classes are more likely to be drawn from a population that has achieved a college education.
The capacity of a country to make strides in development is largely drawn from its ability to exploit the capability of its citizens. In a broader perspective, higher education has therefore been labeled as being synonymous with national development. In many advanced countries, especially in the case of western nations, colleges and higher learning institutions have become the spring from which human capital is drawn. Colleges are importantly highlighted in their role of influencing change especially in the fields of science and technology. The training of college graduates has come to be considered as an issue of vital concern in countries that seek to expand economically. Today, a college education has come to be considered as the capital investment in the field of education. In contemporary times, higher education has solicited a place in the social fronts as being a source of the human resource. In advanced nations, colleges are considered as being a vital source of knowledge and innovations. Indeed, most of the recent inventions have been drawn from the ideas of university researchers who have taken great interest in the various fields. The grooming and priming of researchers and innovators have stimulated national development for countries that have seen higher learning as an important means of research and advancement in technology.
The role of higher education is, however, debatable in some aspects as a few critics have emerged in a bid to question the real value of this level of education. With the expanding nature of institutions that offer this level of education, analysts have questioned the slow pace in which higher learning institutions have sought to respond to emerging issues. Besides, many people have questioned the role of college-level institutions to shift strategies while anticipating future career needs, something that has been a failure on the side of these institutions. Many people are of the opinion that higher learning fails to offer the innovative skills that appear on paper. In a real sense, only a few students get the opportunity to access resources due to the high number of students in this type of institutions.
Further analysis reveals that, asked about the importance of higher learning, the response will depend on the person that is asked. A good number of middle-level college graduates have strongly denounced the value of college education considering the limited role it has played in their lives. Moreover, the economist has also cast doubt on the value of higher level learning due to the shrinking economy partly attributed to the massive funding of research for higher learning centers. It is this that has been the center of the debate that has forced authorities to refocus objectively on the role of higher learning. Beyond the University a scholarly text by Michael S. Roth, the president of Wesleyan College, provides the vivid perspective on which this debate is anchored (Roth 12). By definition, stakeholders in the field of higher learning have often sought to lay their arguments based on their narrow interests. People that have laid concern over the ever increasing student loan debt and the number of graduates that lack applied skills have come to question the significance of higher learning. It is expected that higher learning institutions churn out holistic individuals equipped with industrial skills ready for employment. However, the human resource managers of most firms have laid blame on higher learning institutions for failing to model students to be ready to enter the job market. As numerous studies suggest, most students who are fresh from college lack applied skills but have numerous theoretical skills, a fact that makes them irrelevant in the job market. Importantly, most of the focus has shifted to institutions that offer liberal arts. However, colleges offering liberal art courses have swiftly responded to defend their curriculum. In their argument, liberal art courses as crucial for students that possess transformative power beyond the level of the classroom.
The book by Michael S. Roth explores the long yet convoluted history of the debate on the role of education and, in particular, higher learning in the society. The book has carefully dissected the arguments and counterarguments regarding higher education. Roth’s discussion begins with the general analysis of the circumstances surrounding Thomas Jefferson’s idea of pushing for the establishment of the University of Virginia, an excellent alternative to Ivy League institutions. At some point, as Roth explores, prominent figures were tossed into the debate over whether to improve higher learning institutions or eliminate them and come up with alternatives (Roth 52). Most of the arguments were majorly based on the analysis of students that had graduated from the institutions with some critics claiming that the skills did not match the hype often made about higher learning institutions.
In conclusion, despite the few counterarguments on the importance of higher education, much evidence points towards the significance of higher education, not just to the individual but society at large. Close analysis of the role of higher education shows that it imparts more than just knowledge of college graduates are deemed to possess time management skills, financial skills among many other skills. However, higher learning has its share of limitations which has made many analysts question its importance. Besides its costly nature, critics think that higher education has majorly focused on teaching theoretical skills and not skills that are important in the industrial fronts, something the corporate world has had to contend with. Arguably, the benefits of higher learning are unmatched. One needs to examine the difference between high school graduates and college graduates to note the difference. Further, higher education has promoted the tolerance for social and cultural diversity due to the exposure that higher learning exposes its learners too.
Apps, Jerold W. Higher Education in a Learning Society. Meeting New Demands for Education and Training. Jossey-Bass Inc., Publishers, PO Box 44305, San Francisco, CA 94144-4305, 1988.
Brown, George A., Joanna Bull, and Malcolm Pendlebury. Assessing student learning in higher education. Routledge, 2013.
Gottfredson, Linda S., and Ian J. Deary. “Intelligence predicts health and longevity, but why?.” Current Directions in Psychological Science 13.1 (2004): 1-4.
Matarazzo, Joseph D. “Wechsler’s measurement and appraisal of adult intelligence..” (1972).
Prosser, Michael, and Keith Trigwell. Understanding learning and teaching: The experience in higher education. McGraw-Hill Education (UK), 1999.
Roth, Michael S. Beyond the university: Why liberal education matters. Yale University Press, 2014.
Veblen, Thorstein. The higher learning in America. Transaction Publishers, 1943.