the purpose of college essay

College is an adventure full of many twists and turns, and students grow intellectually and socially while attending. The purpose of college is for people to expand their horizons while figuring out their career paths for the future. Education should be everyone’s number one reason to attend college, and everything else should come second. Recently Jeffrey J. Selingo, a writer from the Washington Post, posed a question, “Is it solely a college’s responsibility to make students job ready?” His question seems to suggest that students need to be more active in the pursuit of their education. Selingo argues that college students see a bachelor’s degree as a means to an end, which is a job, and they do not see it as an experience for the sake of knowledge. Why do many hold the view that college is all about getting a job? Many people think that a college education is not worth the expenses, is that true? Many reasons exist for one to attend. Personally, my purpose here at Kutztown is to excel as a writer, and to expand my education to learn as much as I can while I am here. Examining the varied purposes of a college education is essential in order to maximize one’s experiences and opportunities over the course of four years.

The choice for me to attend college was not easy for me. The 4-years of higher education is not for everyone and some people are not ready for it yet, mentally and financially. There were many factors that loomed over my head, such as the expenses that come with college, my major, and the decision if I was ready to be independent. My family members were talking to me and they all seemed to have different reasons to go to college. I was only thinking about all the work, classes, and hardships that would lead up to earning a degree. My high school years were very rough for me concerning those topics, so I was very hesitant about embarking on this new journey. I eventually realized that the purpose for me to go to Kutztown was that I wanted to grow intellectually as a writer and socially as a person. Most importantly, I considered all of the advantages of getting a degree, and realized that it would really help me to get my future dream job. I knew that this experience would be worth it and I could turn over a new leaf as an independent adult.

The economic factors were very important to me while deciding which college to go to. Addressing the question if college is worth the cost, Jeffrey Selingo explains in his article that there are many ideas that could save the expense of higher education. Selingo states that, “They focus mostly on revenue, not costs. In doing so, they fail to get to the root of higher education’s financial dilemma, which is the expense of maintaining campuses that operate like minicities with an array of academic programs and faculty to teach in them, an ever-growing catalog of student services, and complex administrative systems.” A lot of people want to go to college, but they do not want to invest in it because of the issues involving the high cost. They also do not think that their experience will be equal to the cost, and they think that they will be paying for more than they will earn from it.

There are a few statistics that show the percentages of Americans that have different reasonings for the purpose of college. That being said, Russell Heimlich, a writer for the Pew Research Center, poses the question, “Do we send students to college mainly to grow and learn or strictly to prepare for a future career?” Based off of a report on the findings from a pair of Pew Research Center surveys, 47% of Americans say that college’s purpose is teaching work-related skills and 39% say that it is to help students grow personally and intellectually. I think that the 47% is too focused on “careerism” which cancels out creativity and growth. Additionally 12% of the general public vote that the time at college should be dedicated to both! Personally, I agree with the 12% of Americans because it is very important to develop both extrinsic values and intrinsic values, and have a good balance between them. My goal here at Kutztown is to work towards a degree so I will have a job with a stable lifestyle, and to grow as a person through friendships and my personal passions, such as joining clubs, Greek Life, sports teams, etc. I have always looked at college as an intellectual and social adventure, while retaining a lot of knowledge along the way.

Recently, Inside Higher Education published a collection of views under the title, “The Purpose of College.” One question appeared at the start of this piece: “Is the purpose of college to ensure a good job after graduation, to provide a broad and deep humanities education, or to create an engaged citizenry?” (Chunoo & Osteen, 2016). These questions are important to consider because people should realize their goals of attending college. Later, in this same piece, Susan D. Blum, a professor of anthropology at the University of Notre Dame, argues that there are pragmatic and idealistic goals for attending college, and each type rises to different solutions. The pragmatic side refers to economics, transferable skills, return on investment, etc. She explains how people of all age groups attend college and have different economic conditions so therefore their views are very different (University of Venus).

Furthermore, today the view about college is different for everyone. In his Ted Talk, Julien Gordon examines different “capitals” attached to the college experience which list under internal and external resources. Gordon explains that the internal resources are personal and intellectual capital, and on the contrary the external resources are social and financial. The external resources focuses on earning a degree, a job, and leading a stable life. They are relate to the physical earnings of a college degree, not the inner growth that students go through during the four years.

The internal resources refer to how well people know themselves, such as their sense of purpose for the future. Gordon describes the internal resources in a powerful way, “When the world looks at you they see you as a little kitten but when you look at yourself in the mirror you ractually see something more powerful, more capable.” I highly agree with this statement because in order to do well, you have to believe that you can do anything you put your mind to. Life has taught me that everyone has different opinions of you, may judge you, and doubt you, but that does not mean that you should doubt yourself. I have struggled with keeping a good mindset here at Kutztown with the looming debt, my own worries/doubts and the independence that comes with college. On the other hand, I just have to step back and believe in myself. Gordon encourages the development of such self-confidence by explaining how you have to be passionate about what you do. As noted earlier, I want to be a novelist one day. That is my ideal profession, and I also want to enjoy tennis as a hobby. These two pursuits would allow me to grow both socially and personally.

There are many reasons why someone makes the decision to attend college and everyone benefits from different factors. Personally, I believe that the social and intellectual factors shape people as individuals and make the college experience memorable. The capitals that Gordon explain are helpful while considering the attendance of college, and people argue if the internal or external resources are more important. The economic factors play a huge part, and it is often said that the expenses are not worth it. Fortunately, when I came to Kutztown I realized that I made the best decision to go here. I have learned so much throughout my first two semesters that will help me pursue my dream of becoming a novelist and I have made so many supportive friends along the way. Kutztown University has shaped me as an independent adult and hopefully other people that were hesitant about college feel the same way about their decision.

Works Cited

  1. Blum, Susan. “The Purpose of College | Inside Higher Ed.” Inside Higher Ed, Inside Higher Ed, 29 Mar. 2017, www.insidehighered.com/blogs/university-venus/purpose-college.
  2. Heimlich, Russell. “Purpose of College Education.” Pew Research Center, Pew Research Center, 7 Feb. 2014, www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2011/06/02/purpose-of-college-education/.
  3. Selingo, Jeffrey J. The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Chronicle of Higher Education, 8 Nov. 2017, www.chronicle.com/article/Networked-U-s-This-Is-What/241724.
  4. Selingo, Jeffrey J. “What’s the Purpose of College: A Job or an Education?” The Washington Post, WP Company, 2 Feb. 2015, www.washingtonpost.com/news/grade-point/wp/2015/02/02/whats-the-purpose-of-college-a-job-or-an-education/?utm_term=.fb32bb485b41.
  5. Talks, TEDx, director. YouTube. YouTube, YouTube, 26 June 2012, www.youtube.com/watch?

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