What is the point of college?

Heather Bryant / Editor-in -Chief
Nov. 15, 2011

I’ve recently been confronted by the question all students soon to graduate are faced with.

What comes next?

This question caused me to start thinking about what I have done during my long college career. I’m on the six-year track. I spent my first two years as biology student before discovering that it was not meant to be. I’ve spent the last four years studying journalism and working on my art minor.

Honestly, I feel like a lot of time was wasted because of what I had to do for many of my classes.

There are many assignments that I look back on and I feel like they were just busywork and required reading.

Couple that with more than one professor who told me that no employer really cares about my grades, but only my experience, and I wonder what the point of college really is and what it’s really worth.

“There are now almost five thousand universities and colleges—both two-year and four-year—in the US. Millions attend them, including around 40 percent of eighteen-to-twenty-four-year-old Americans and a great many older students,” according to a recent article by The New York Review of Books.

What are the priorities of a college? Is it education and enlightenment? Academic inquiry and research? Or athletics?

When we look at scandals like the still-unfolding story of Penn State, we see an appalling example of what happens when college athletics is considered such an important part of college that coaches can commit crimes and not be reported to the police.

Jerry Sandusky founded his charity, The Second Mile, in 1977 to help at-risk children. It came to light that in the years following, Sandusky sexually abused a number of children through the charity. He might have also pimped children to donors for Penn State. A number of individuals knew that the abuse happened, including football coach Joe Paterno, and never reported it to the police. Sandusky was arrested for 40 criminal counts and several of the people who knew about the abuse were charged with perjury and failure to report the allegations. Paterno was fired last week, despite stating his intention to resign at the end of the season. Penn State students reacted by rioting in the streets over the loss of “JoPa.”

Students were upset of the firing of Paterno, and exhibited their anger by trashing the streets and even overturning a news van.

Of everything that happened, the rioters protested the firing of a coach. To them the loss of their football coach was more important than the fact that the man failed to report to police that children were being sexually assaulted in the locker rooms.

And the officials in charge stood by and let it happen, because their football program and the donor money Sandusky brought in were more important.

Institutions that were created in the name education and enlightenment became businesses focused on viewership and donations.

But a college degree has become a minimum requirement for a majority of jobs.

Students hoping to get a job have to finance those dreams with student loans. But the American exchange rate between education and the dollar is decreasing.

Student loans are the largest debt held in the United States. The amount of student loan debt owed in this country will hit 1 trillion dollars before the end of the year, according to CNN Money.

And yet, the majority of students who graduate this year won’t be able to find a job in their chosen career area.

These are symptoms of a collegiate model that is becoming sicker by the day.

The spread of Occupy Protests to campuses is indicative of the shift in student feelings towards the college education system. The rising costs and low return on their investment is making college seem a less viable and appealing option for high school graduates. The misdirection of priorities in college administrations have shifted the focus from what students can achieve for themselves to what they can do for the college.

We pay tuition for knowledge we hardly have the time to digest during this race toward graduation. I’ve learned more dealing with University red tape then sitting in a classroom.

I know that as I move into the next phase of my life that I will be able to use what I have learned here. I just wish that it had been part of my degree.

Heather Bryant

The Sun Star

(907) 474-5078

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