How important is a college education?

January 18, 2018 | By | 1 Reply More

This article by Peter Coy in Bloomberg makes a strong case against the “need” for college education for most people.

[M]ost of us don’t need to understand the Krebs cycle or the Peloponnesian War. Honestly, how much do you remember, let alone use, from Spanish or chem or calculus? For many students, college is mostly about jumping through hoops on command to show potential employers you’re ready, willing, and able to jump through hoops on command.


Category: Education

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

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  1. Edgar Montrose says:

    There is far too much to dispute in that article for a formal reply, so I will reluctantly summarize it as a circular appeal to ignorance: “We don’t know any of these things so obviously we don’t need them; we don’t need any of these things so why bother knowing them?”

    I’ll make the overly-general assertion that those who CAN make it through college, WILL, if given a chance. Those who CAN’T, WON’T, even if given a chance. With huge economic barriers to entry, many who CAN won’t be given the opportunity.

    Then, of course, there is the common argument that a well-educated populace, well-rounded in knowledge and experience, is more compassionate, understanding, and accommodating, and makes better decisions about life, culture, politics, spirituality, and so on. Interesting how the more educated people are, the more they tend to think that such things are important. The inverse is also true.

    Arguing against specific aspects of the college experience is pointless, because this is not a one-size-fits-all situation. “I never use algebra, so why bother learning it?” Well, turning that argument around to my own point of view: as an engineer I use algebra every day and I wonder how you can possibly get along without it.

    I am often asked by young engineering students what specific courses they should include in their curricula. I always answer, “Take history, literature, art, music, sociology, political science. They’ll open your eyes and make you a better person, more able to understand the real world. As for the math and science courses, you don’t need any advice about those — you know you’ll take them anyway.” I hope that people in non-technical pursuits might be motivated to take some math and science for exactly the same reasons.

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