Is higher education a necessity?

In lieu of how many people gain success sans a degree begs the question: how necessary is tertiary education?

An education is viewed as a one way ticket out of poverty and a hard life or a method of securing higher pay. ‘Degrees secure a future’ – it is a belief drilled into children and the children of those children so much so that it has become a hard cycle to break.

However, according to CNN, the belief still holds true. Education is a worthy investment as a degree will see a return up to 12.3 percent for men in America, grossing at an additional $365,000 over a lifetime. It will also help potential employers decide on whom to pick if the decision comes down to two candidates, one a degree holder and the other without.

Yet, millennials have had a hard time getting employed due to increasingly strict requirements. ‘Experience required’ have become incredibly dreaded words. It paints a picture of needing vocational training before being employable. Some, with no other choice, volunteer abroad or wherever they can to meet the requirement. However, it is not entirely feasible as many fresh graduates are riddled with debt and have expenses to shoulder.

The low rate of employability might also be due to the unrealistic expectations of millennials. Too many want to pursue a career in media, entertainment, education and healthcare whereby there is a higher demand for engineering and computer science. Furthermore, millennials have a disproportionate idea of how much they should get paid. This phenomenon might be part of a vicious cycle of getting a degree for the sake of a job and having a student loan thrust upon them, therefore needing a high salary to settle their debts.

Aside from the financial side of thing, Forbes argued that the internet ‘unleashed an infinite amount of information that is often mistaken for knowledge’, going on to explain that while it is a revolutionary way of disseminating information, it does not keep out misinformation. This could cause students to become overwhelmed with determining what sources are credible. They continue to tout that those who have undergone tertiary education have higher self esteem, being exposed to self learning and guided towards independence in a scholarly and civilised fashion.

Although one may argue the younger generations who have grown up in a world of tech, would be more than capable of determining the authenticity of information. Adults are more susceptible to scams, as reported by a study Forbes conducted. This is due to the trusting nature of previous generations which did not have to deal with an online world of potential dangers.

Another point raised by CNN was that technology will transform the world of education. While they point towards an open sourced, non-traditional education for students all over the world, it is not hard to find corruption and there will be those taking advantage of the system. Already there are websites offering ‘do my essay‘ services, and before the rise of digitalization, students have actively avoided attending classes or sitting for exams. There are those who opt for hiring professional exam takers to assure a good grade.

Universities have been unable to control the quality of their graduates since their days of being a brick and mortar institution. The oncoming convergence of digitalizing education might propagate a deterioration in the value of an education, or it might create a better market for everyone. A more flexible and affordable option from the almost extortionist nature of Ivy Leagues or established universities.

The Guardian has an idea regarding the direction higher education is going in and how universities in the UK are being affected by Brexit. Issues with student visas which will most likely end in a reconciliation. At the forefront of it all is the fees, and they predict students will begin demanding affordability. Some are even committed to strikes and refusing to fill out an annual survey which is used as a platform to announce its increase in fees.

Looking at all sides of the coin and the contributing factors, one might come to the conclusion that higher education is not so much a necessity as a decoration unless one’s vocation requires extensive training and studying. For the other students who do not plan for a career in medicine or any other professional fields, university should be considered optional.

Aside from experiencing campus life and immersing oneself in a culture of learning and gaining a piece of paper that reinforces one’s credentials, universities are growing increasingly old-fashioned. With the cheaper alternatives of MOOCs being readily available for virtually every vocation, higher education might suffer a decrease in intakes and having to close certain courses or shut down entirely. Students are also becoming increasingly dissatisfied and vocal about the reality of higher education. Despite being able to raise intellectual questions and coming to a logical conclusions, there is an underlying truth of how degrees cost more than they are worth.

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