Essay 2


What is a College Education?

In today’s society, is it relevant for everyone and worth the cost?

Joshua Birdwell

Oklahoma State University

What is a College Education?

In today’s society, most students take the next step after high school and attend college. A growing problem is accruing many students do not know why they are even in college. “We use [the expression a college education] as if that were a well-defined clearly identifiable phenomenon and there probably was a time when it was but I think we’ve moved beyond that time” (David Rey). Exactly, what does a college education give us any more? I fear that students will attempt to enter the workforce with nothing more than a degree in hand. Through research, it is shown that soft skills are extremely important and left out in the college experience. With each person, college can be defined a bit differently. One thing holds true is that the community and connections forged on campus are priceless in life. We need to better understand the knowledge acquisition that occurs while in college and understand how that will help translate into actionable skills in the work field.

Information is accessible and free so the simple act of knowing is no longer as valuable. It is more about what we do with that information. Companies are looking to see if we can act on our knowledge. To be successful in the global market, we need to understand where college is short handing us and exactly what it is providing. We should constantly ask if the cost equation is balanced for the quality of education equals the pay. There are more and more cases where college is not the correct path. We have more entrepreneurs dropping out to start companies and other students quiting because they are self-taught. Education is going through a revolution with self directed learning and people are able to learn to program through these methods. It is important to understand the reason of why we chose to enter college so that we can take advantage of every resource provided. How do you define a college education?


Naomi, S. R. (2011, Jun 05). What’s a college education really worth? not enough. The Washington Post. Retrieved from Accountid=411

In her article “What’s a college education really worth? Not enough,” Naomi Schaefer Riley observes the growing separation between college graduates preparation and corporate hiring standards. According to Naomi, “executives at U.S. Companies routinely complain about the lack of reading, writing and math skills in the recent graduates they hire.” She asserts “employers may decide that there are better ways to get high schools students ready for careers” (S. R.). Students are lost within the purpose of higher ed that administration and professors define and employers expect. Top tier undergraduates now have other options to accomplish their goals through programs such as Thiel Fellowship. Going forward, we are setting a precedence that brilliant students can obtain creditability outside an university walls. Naomi warns about the dangers of the median student simply acquiring a degree and graduating. Questions are raised on how higher education can alter its general education requirements to increase the value of the education. Naomi emphasizes the effects of “grade inflation and lack of a serious core curriculum.” By focusing on major course, one can get by in any high-price university. Naomi’s point is that “colleges and universities have allowed their value to slip by letting students call this an undergraduate education.” She goes on to explain a hypothetical situation where students “show their Sat scores to companies”(S.R.). They then are evaluated and hired to an apprenticeship program. Through this process, companies would put together some courses for them to take along the way she explains.

Thwing, C. F. (1890, Jul 03). WHAT IS A COLLEGE EDUCATION GOOD FOR? The Independent …Devoted to the Consideration of Politics, Social and Economic Tendencies, History, Literature, and the Arts (1848-1921), 42, 12. Retrieved from

“What is a college education good for?”, a scholarly journal article, is geared towards those within the higher ed sector. The article is structured as a guide to how college should enlighten the student. Charles argues that college is not only a place to mature and learn but to strength your faith as well. He believes that college shapes us for the future. In support of this argument, he points out that college abolishes self-conceit, builds character, and “fosters an intelligent and strong Christian faith.” For example, through going deep into learning and having life decisions pushes towards seeking great advice to understand the life ahead. Charles’s claim that college allows for a person to develop and grow in his faith is different approach in that it involves religion in the bi-product of a college education; however, personally being religious I see the strength in this and am experiencing it. Whereas prior to encountering this source, I believed college helped develop worldly things, I now think even more it develops you further than what you have gained as far as concrete knowledge. This article will be useful for showing how college is place to change your inner self because we are fooling ourselves if we think we will come out the same as we went in to college. There are aspects within this article that are not just religious such as character and how we are altered by the freedom that is gained by learning from the past.

Weaver II, Richard L. (2002, June 12). What you don’t get out of a college education: Personal success skills necessary to exceed in school and in life. (2003). Vital Speeches of the Day, 69(19), 604. Retrieved from Accountid=4117

“What You Don’t Get Out Of A College Education,” a scholarly journal article, is intended for future and current college students. The article states aspects that are left out of a college degree and how to fill those voids. Richard argues that there certain skills that you don’t get out of college. He emphasizes though that we have control and can leave college with these skills. In support of this argument, he points out that control, expectations, self-discipline, and responsibility are all “personal success skills necessary to exceed in school and in life”. For example, he “found mastering course work incredibly easy, once [he] decided [his] expectation was growth, development, and change”. Richard’s claim that simply gliding through classes alone will not prepare us for the world is convincing in that he shows how each separate skill correlates to getting the maximum growth out of his time in college. His action statement calls us to “begin right now to use the system to get every bit of knowledge out of it that you can”. Having to pay for a college education, we should take advantage to grow and learn even outside the confinement of our degree plan. Whereas prior to encountering this source, I knew that doing homework alone would not be enough, I am now about to better pin point the areas in which are needed to be a well rounded person. This article will be useful for helping shape what a college degree is by telling us what is absent from it because now we better understand the bare minimum that constitutes a college education.

Delbanco, Andrew. (2012).”What Is College for?.”Continuing Higher Education Review76: 11- 19. Eric. Web. 25 Mar. 2014.

“What is College For?,” a scholarly journal article, is intended for the Americans on the economics of going to college. The article layouts out two main economic points for the stance in support of higher ed. Andrew argues that “college is good for the economic competitiveness of the individuals who constitute the nation.” Also, that the more people with a college degree betters the economic health of the nation. In pursuit of this argument, he points out that a college education raises one’s earnings and is need in the competitive job market today. For example, “one authority claims that those who hold a BA degree earn roughly 60 percent more, on average, over their lifetime than those who do not”. He presents other arguments for the importance of college. One of those being a political one because of the importance of having educated citizenry. There is a third case that is seldomly mentioned. An elderly alumnus told Andrew, College “taught [him] how to enjoy life”. His meaning behind this was that “college had opened his senses as well as his mind to experiences that would otherwise be foreclosed for him”. Andrew’s claim that college is more than a next step and holds greater meaning is convincing in that we are exposed and grow in college as we become prepared to compete in the global market; however, this helps define economical reasoning behind college past a national benefit and more on how it impacts the individual. Whereas prior to encountering this source, I believed that a college education was helpfully financially and in shaping us, I now think that this is ever so true as America is falling behind other nations. This article will be useful for providing economical, political, and abstract supports for why college is beneficial and what it provides because of the main three points that are expanded on in this article.

Friedman, Thomas. “How to Get a Job at Google.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 22 Feb. 2014. Web. 27 Mar. 2014. < google.html>.

“How to Get a Job at Google,” a newspaper article from The New York Times is intended for students entering the workforce soon. This article layouts out the criteria that Google pays attention to when hiring. Thomas argues that a “degree is not a proxy for your ability to do any job”. GPA is no longer the deciding factor at tech-based companies but the soft skills are highly valued with candidates. In support of this argument, he points out that in an interview with Laszlo Bock, Google’s Senior Vice President of people operations, Lazlo layouts five hiring attributes: coding ability, learning ability, leadership, humility and ownership. For example, Lalzo adds “Too many colleges don’t deliver on what they promise. You generate a ton of debt, you don’t learn the most useful things for your life. It’s [just] a extended adolescence.” Thomas’ claim that companies are looking deeper than the GPA a college degree provides is convincing in that the world is changing and information is cheap; however, the ability to learn and lead are extremely valuable but college emphasizes the acquisition of knowledge. Whereas prior to encountering this source, I believed that other skills held higher value than GPA, I now am supported by an executive at Google that the companies are changing what they value. This article will be useful for brining out the urgency that colleges need to bring more than knowledge to the table because students are hurting from not being ready to go against other candidates.

Ray, David. “What is a college education? .” YouTube. TEDxOU, 16 Feb. 2014. Web. 27 Mar. 2014. <>.

“What is a College Education,” a TEDx OU talk, is intended for college students who need to be aware of why they are in college and what they are receiving. This talk is organized to bring us to a point that we understand we can not idly go through our college experience. David argues that since we are recovering from job losses that are not being replaced by high skilled jobs it is never been so urgent to define a college education and work harder will in school. In pursuit of this objective, he points out that there are four changes political,economic, social, and cultural that are helping define a college education. For example, culturally we have changed to where students do not work as hard and “when they graduate who are not as skilled as they should be.” David’s claim that as students we must define a college education is convincing in that we are still in a job crisis and college has turned into a factory; however, this talk gives us four areas to focus on what influences the perception of a college degree and helps be a prompt for my question. Whereas prior to encountering this source, I believed students could drift and go into an unmotivated state, I now think our economy hurts students like this and information is cheap meaning we need to capture what and why we are paying for when in college. This article will be useful for it shows that even a college professor understand that maybe a college degree is not right for everyone and he is challenging the definition because “the business of the university isn’t business its education.”

 Beaky, L. A. (2010). A college education? or diminished expectations? Academe, 96(3), 19-21,3. Retrieved from

A College Education? Or Diminished Expectations?,” a scholarly journal, is intended for those in higher ed positions. The article is organized to revel the harm that a top down approach on a design of a college. Lenore argues that “community colleges are more than engines for economic prosperity.” One her main points on the development of the community college was “don’t they deserve more than a strict pathway that pushes them to declare a major at entrance and marches them straight through their courses to a diploma and a job.” In pursuit of this argument, she points out that CUNY students, faculty members or New York City benefit from the process Matt Goldstein, the chancellor, has decided on by bringing a top down approach to the table. She thinks “its defining features will be a narrow, utilitarian curriculum and statistics-driven surveillance of both faculty and students.” For example, “students will be graded not just by their teachers but by teams that will include faculty members who did not actually teach the student being evaluated.” Lenore’s claim that community college should be more than a means to an end is convincing in that the world is changing rapidly and learning towards a specific job is not wise; however, this article helps bring out that when colleges are changing the structure students and faculty should be included in the circle. Whereas prior to encountering this source, I believed administration would seek others besides those on the same level, I now think college’s each have their own objective of what their schooling provides and at CUNY it is a straight to a job. This article will be useful for helping show that college should not be a track to a job because we need to be learning timeless skills that can helps us adapt and change to the world.

Green, John . “Is College Worth It?.”YouTube. VlogBrothers, 21 Aug. 2012. Web. 27 Mar. 2014. <>.

“Is College Worth it?,” a YouTube video by author John Green, is intended for college students. The video is organized to give support for the importance of college. John argues that college is worth the cost. “Education gave [him] perspective and context.” “Weather you are studying electrical engineering or poetry college is not finally about maximizing income but its about becoming a better and more informed observer of the universe.” In support of this objective, he points out that we are fortunate to learn and focus on the opportunity of “maximizing passion and fulfillment in [our] life both professional and personally”. For example, we are “in a world where about half of humans live on less 2 dollars & 50 cents a day the opportunity to learn and study in a formal and dedicated way is still a gift even if it has become a very expensive one.” John’s claim that college is worth the opportunity cost is convincing in that it gives us freedom to be our true selves and gives us the chance to go after the career we want; however, this is important in understanding if the opportunity cost is always in favor of college. Whereas prior to encountering this source, I believed college was a next step, I now think we all need to take a step back and appreciate what we have in front of us. This article will be useful for understanding that college is a privilege because not everyone can go and it allows us to be given new opportunities.


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