Value Factors To Choose A College

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Many countries, including the United States, have stuck with the traditional education systems or processes for many years and the trend is not likely to change soon. Traditionally, parents expect children to graduate from high school, go to the university, get a well-paying job, and finally live a happy and fulfilling life. Conventionally, attending a four-year education college and pursuing respectable careers such as engineering, law, or medicine is believed to be the route to success in life in both developed and developing nations. However, the narrative is gradually changing, especially due to the increasing cost of college education and the high rate of unemployment, especially among graduates. Consequently, there is a controversial debate in the USA and many countries whether a college education is worth it. A significant number of people believe that investing a lot of money in education is no longer worthy because it results in low returns. At the same time, there are a substantial number of people who maintain that a college education is a route to success. Students should be allowed to choose courses or colleges that fit their financial and cognitive abilities, as well as interests, to increase the rate of return and benefits of education.

However, parents and learners should not only focus on the cost of a college education. On the contrary, their main concern should be whether investing in education is worth it, especially in terms of returns. People should not worry so much about the cost of higher education if graduates and society at large can benefit from it significantly. Although investing in higher education is linked to high returns, this is not always the case. The value of education can mainly be determined by looking at the earnings, especially based on the number of years spent in colleges. Several studies have revealed that a return to one year in school should be about 10%. Therefore, according to Owen and Sawhill, four-year college education should have a rate of return of nearly $12,000 (319). They argue that the return is less than the differences between high school and university graduates. Therefore, an increase in the cost of college education reduces the net benefits. At the same time, the opportunity cost of going to four-year colleges is also high, as it is estimated to be $54,000 (Owen and Sawhill 319). Thus, the foregone earnings that four-year college graduates give up in four years are high, which ends up affecting the net benefits of higher education.

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Nonetheless, it is essential to acknowledge that the rate of return of higher education varies from one institution to another, and from one career or course to another. For instance, the lifetime earnings of graduates who attend selective private colleges are $620,000, which is higher than their counterparts who went through the public higher institutions of learning (Owen and Sawhill 323). Based on the findings by Owen and Sawhill, the rate of return of higher education is higher in colleges that offer STEM courses than their counterparts that provide social sciences (Owen and Sawhill 325). As a result, college graduates who major in engineering, computers, and math are likely to earn a higher income than those who pursue courses like arts and social sciences such as psychology. By looking at the above statistics and data, not every four-year degree is a smart investment. Students should always consider the type of the university and the course before they make the final decision in their career.

However, some people maintain that short courses or two-year colleges are better than four-year colleges. Liz Addison, for instance, is strongly persuaded that a two-year college education is better than a four-year college, especially among families with poor financial status or condition (Addison 212). In addition, the obsession with four-year colleges makes students go to the university, even when they do not have the cognitive or mental ability to succeed in such institutions. Addison argues that two-year colleges are networks of affordable futures (Addison 212).

Although the argument by Addison may be valid, four-year colleges still play a critical role in society and they cannot be ignored regardless of their costs. Supporting short courses and two-year colleges without recognizing the benefits of four-year colleges is a biased approach to issues or debate. Both short courses and four-year colleges have benefits and drawbacks.

To sum up, both long time study and short courses are worth it, so long as factors such as the financial status of a family and the cognitive ability of students, including the interests of learners, are considered before making the final career decision. People have different abilities, knowledge, and experience and they cannot be subjected to the same process without getting different results.  

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