Higher Education and Its Relevance in Society

Introduction

The past few decades have seen an increase in the debate concerning the relevance of higher education and its impact on people’s lives. A significant financial commitment often accompanies college attendance but usually guarantees career stability and has increased the number of professionals globally. Besides career development and job stability, seeking higher education has been used as a source of knowledge and a platform for gaining social status and obtaining cultural diversity. In the past centuries, self-education was highly regarded, and parents went the extra mile to organize private tutors, which guaranteed career stability and professional advancement. Higher education is considered the primary authority of educational attainment and preparation for the modern world’s job market and career development. Colleges and universities have been designed to act as a platform that equips learners with the necessary theoretical knowledge and moral education crucial for the country and society (Monaghan, 2022). This paper discusses why more people should attend college and why higher education should be considered a right for every citizen.

Why Most People Should Be Encouraged to Attend College

Financial ambitions are the primary goals that prompt people to seek higher education. Attaining financial stability and a steady income flow highly depend on what a person contributes to society. College attendance is the quickest way of mastering concepts and applying them in the real world. This means that one can still learn the skills through techniques, e.g., apprenticeship, but it tends to take longer. Therefore, one should attend college and other higher education institutions if one desires to attain mastery of relevant skills. Additionally, it is documented by several research studies that college graduates have a higher chance of gaining financial stability after graduation than those without a college degree. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in 2020 that the unemployment rates tend to increase with a decrease in academic qualifications. The report further illustrates that bachelor’s degree holders received a higher salary, up to 67% more than higher diploma holders (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021). This means that to achieve financial stability, one needs to continuously increase one’s academic status. The Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities states that :

“College-educated workers enjoy a substantial earnings premium. On an annual basis, bachelor’s degree holders earn about $32,000 more than those whose highest degree is a high school diploma. The earnings gap between college graduates and those with less education continues to widen. Today, Millennials with a high school diploma earn 62 percent of what the typical college graduate earns” (Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities, 2021).

This is a clear indication that college education, no matter the expense it is associated with, comes with substantial financial returns since employees recognize that people with degrees as qualified and able to deliver or learn new skills swiftly. All high school students should be encouraged to seek higher education if that is in line with their desires. High school diploma holders should also be encouraged to use education as a source of attaining financial stability.

During the great recession, college graduates survived better than their peers who only had a high school diploma. During that time, the unemployment rate of college degree holders stood at 6.9%, while that of high school diploma holders stood at 15.8% (Trostel, 2015). Currently, the unemployment rate of bachelor’s degree holders is approximately 2.5%, and it keeps dropping; this indicates that with an increase in academic qualifications, the unemployment rate continues to reduce (Fogg & Harrington, 2011). It is also paramount to mention that the poverty rate of high school diploma holders is higher than those who attended college. Trostel (2015) indicates that people with a bachelor’s degree have a poverty level of 3.5% more than those with high school diplomas.

Attending college allows one to develop long-lasting connections that are significant in one’s a career development and social life. Networking is essential in career development especially during early learning stages. This majorly happens through the existing connections one develops in college through interaction with classmates, faculty members, and club and student organizations. Professional networks act as job leads, encourage personal improvement through collaborations, and allow one to actualize their career goals.

A college education is associated with more secure jobs that come with benefits like health insurance. The benefits are considered prerequisites for a professional and fulfilling life that allow employees to enjoy their job, stick to a particular organization, and produce at an elite level. It is documented that:

“Bachelor’s degree holders are 47 percent more likely to have health insurance provided through their job, and their employers contribute 74 percent more to their health coverage. Life expectancy is also longer for those who attend college” (Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities, 2021).

Other studies indicate that the life expectancy of people with a college degree or higher is seven years more than those with no postsecondary education. This is linked to the benefits obtained from their jobs and the ability to cater to their health needs (Trostel, 2015). College education gives insight into post-college life and prepares one for independence, unlike high school education, where one is forced to do the necessary. In college, one remains solely responsible for managing their time, coursework, and success in their academics. It also introduces one to the competitive world and the need for collaboration for success. This comes with the aid of existing college programs that help one master the art of independence, and these programs include tutorship and academic assistance, among others.

College education equips one with necessary life skills that are necessary for any career in the real world. Colleges have mandatory courses that provide students with skills like public speaking and teamwork. This is also enhanced through courses or clubs open for students in the colleges. Colleges also help students expand their financial literacy. This helps them gain financial responsibility, which is applicable during employment. Financial literacy is also obtained by managing student loans and credit cards, reducing extravagance and poor financial habits.

Higher education as a “right” (and necessity) for most Citizens

Economies are driven by the ability of professionals to produce at elite levels and withhold good morals while following the set laws. This is only possible if people partake in college education and obtain the necessary skills and moral skills development that allows them to survive in the current competitive world. Education is regarded as an investment, and any society that ensures that all its citizens are fully educated is guaranteed stability. Research has demonstrated that education is part of human capital investment and is an instrument that allows societies to bounce back during recessions (Nica, 2012) quickly. Countries with low employment rates tend to have a considerable number of individuals with higher education qualifications. Higher education does not guarantee employment but allows people to think beyond their comfort zones and develop ideas that attract investors and lead to opportunities for other professionals.

Higher education should be considered a human right and should be acquired by everyone based on capacity. This is because higher education generates a higher gain for individuals and society, and a well-educated country tends to outperform others that are less considerate of education. Among its human rights law, international law considers higher education a right for all. The law indicates that higher education attainment should be bound by merit but capacity, allowing diversification in the academic arena. Furthermore, the right shows the elimination of discrimination, especially among women, the disabled, and racial minorities. UNESCO recognizes the significance of education through developing national and global security and peace through the collaboration of nations (Gilchrist, 2018). Therefore, it is evident that international bodies recognize education as a necessity and a right for every human.

In the U.S, education has not yet been categorized as a human right, but several states have demonstrated its significance in statutory development and individual skill development. One notable event is when the U.S supreme court indicated that education is crucial for the performance of public responsibilities and armed forces. It further stated that education is instrumental in developing good citizenship culture, acquiring desired cultural values, preparing professional training, and environmental adaptation. Furthermore, the supreme court indicated that a person deprived of any form of education has a high likelihood of not succeeding in life (López & Burciaga, 2014). European Law articulates the right to access to higher education by all individuals (Gilchrist, 2018). This recognition further stresses why higher education needs to be considered a higher necessity all around the globe.

Employers’ demand is further drifting the status of education as a necessity. Additionally, the increasing inflation rates are calling for more financial returns, and this only comes from academic advancement to meet the needs of employers and deliver at more professional levels. As some jobs may never require college degrees, employees use them in selection criteria to eliminate candidates who may have difficulty providing additional services when the work dynamics change. The academic qualification also proves the ability to learn new concepts and provide services at an elite level.

The high cost of obtaining higher education has made it to be considered a luxury and less of a right. However, the high costs of education never outweigh the benefits accrued by individuals and society. As indicated earlier, higher education is associated with lower unemployment rates, better standards of living, and increased life expectancy. Different states have difficulty making the attainment of human rights law despite them recognizing the benefits it provides. There is a need for the involvement of policymakers to ensure that higher education is made a human right globally.

Conclusion

Despite the increased cost of education, it has been found to contribute significantly to global development. Not only does education involve monetary gain but also moral skill development. International law has long recognized higher education as a right. The high cost of education has made numerous individuals consider education as a luxury despite the positive attributes that it is associated with. There is a need for different states to develop policies that demonstrate higher education as a right for all.

References

Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities. (2021). How does a college degree improve graduates’ employment and earnings potential? Web.

Fogg, N. P., & Harrington, P. E. (2011). Rising mal-employment and the great recession: The growing disconnection between recent college graduates and the college labor market. Continuing Higher Education Review, 75, 51–65.

Gilchrist, H. R. (2018). Higher Education is a Human Right. 33.

López, G. R., & Burciaga, R. (2014). The troublesome legacy of Brown v. Board of Education. Educational Administration Quarterly, 50(5), 796–811.

Monaghan, D. B. (2022). Moral education: The cultural significance of higher education in the discourse of non-traditional undergraduates. American Journal of Cultural Sociology, 10(1), 164–195. Web.

Nica, E. (2012). The increased significance of education as an investment in human capital. Contemporary Readings in Law and Social Justice, IV(2), 336–341.

Trostel, P. A. (2015). It’s not just the money the benefits of college education to individuals and to society.

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2021). Education pays U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Web.

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