The True Value of College

The Economist recently published an insightful article about the value of a college degree. The Chronicle of Higher Education published an article based on the same book. It’s well worth reading. One particularly salient point for me is the finding that liberal arts majors saw “significantly higher gains in critical thinking, complex reasoning, and writing skills over time than students in other fields of study”. This is not news to me. The liberal arts education, which used to be a core part of the college experience, has been deprecated in most majors and most colleges in favor of very focused training on the skills required by the major. This is what technical and trade schools are for. A College degree is supposed to mean that you are an educated citizen, not that you can do a particular technical job. We need more technical schools and many people are not “college material” but would do perfectly fine in a technical or trade school.

We need to move college education back in the direction of teaching people how to think critically and how to read, write, and reason at an advanced level. For those not suitable or not interested in pursuing that type of education, we need more trade schools and we need to change our cultural view of these schools so that we consider them equal to or better than college for a wide range of careers.


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