As a senior here at the University of Connecticut, it may seem selfish of me to make the claim that we don’t need free college tuition. It may seem as though I’ve reaped the benefits of the college experience, and simply don’t want it to become easier for others to receive the benefits I will receive post-graduation.
It seems strange that I, a young, moderately liberal individual am against the institution of free college tuition. It seems that young college students are generally the first in line to fight for their right to a more affordable, if not free, education.
My thinking does not stem from a place of selfishness or practicality, and my beliefs on the matter do not mean that I am a conservative in this regard. Instead, I believe the institution of college is frankly bizarre.
This may seem like an odd thing to say as I speedily approach my own graduation in May, but a reflection on my four years here really only solidifies my beliefs.
College is a fantastic experience. You’re able to push yourself farther than you thought imaginable and see what comes of it. You’re able to branch out and try activities, classes and clubs that you never imagined being interested in. You have the opportunity to talk to professors who are experts in fields that you’ve always dreamed to learn about. College is fantastic in all those regards, but it is also entirely unnecessary.
I believe that the entire institution of undergraduate college is a means to put young people in debt with nothing to show for it other than a piece of paper. There are thousands of people that graduate college with less of an idea of what they want to pursue than when they entered as naïve freshmen.
My cousins in Pakistan have a vastly different school system than what we have here. In Pakistan, the last two years of high school serve as an ‘Associates Degree’, where students are already priming themselves for professional school. At a younger age, students are compelled to think seriously about what they want to do with their lives, and therefore take classes reflecting those career choices early on.
By the time students graduate high school, they are applying for professional and graduate schools. This cuts out four years of schooling from these students’ lives. This is four years of expenses, which are completely avoidable. Not to mention four more working years to earn money rather than spend it.
It’s difficult to swallow when somebody says college is unnecessary, especially because college has become a privilege that so many people are unable to afford. Even still, it’s imperative to think realistically about the benefits of undergraduate education. In reality, college is so valuable because of the value we have assigned to the bachelor’s degree. If students were able to learn the necessary skills to be a good student and well-rounded human being in the last two years of high school, undergraduate education could become completely avoidable.
Providing students with a more professionally directed focus early on in their lives would make for a stronger workforce and happier people. Who wouldn’t jump at the opportunity to have four years added to their life if given the chance? Eliminating the need for four years of undergraduate education could provide that to hundreds of millions of Americans.
The issue isn’t that college is expensive. The issue is that college is unnecessary, and yet we all have to pay for it and go through it anyway if we want a career. Instead of trying to make it more affordable, we should be pushing for educational reform that would make government-sponsored public education the new primer to graduate schools. Students could save hundreds of thousands of dollars on undergraduate education, and instead spend that on the professional school of their choice. All while adding four years of freedom to the timeline of their lives.
Gulrukh Haroon is a staff columnist for The Daily Campus. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.