For many, many years, most colleges and universities around the country have emphasized the importance of “a well-rounded liberal arts education.” It’s this kind of educational path that requires students to take courses and accumulate credits from a wide range of disciplines—including humanities, communication, math, science and technology, social science, and more. These credit requirements—usually referred to as “General Education” requirements, or Gen-Eds—form the backbone of a student’s college education at many U.S. institutions of higher learning. The question is, are these schools that preach versatility and “well-rounded” education giving students the tools they need to succeed in the modern workplace?
A high school graduation is a significant milestone in many lives, and it often coincides with a young person beginning the final transition into adulthood. In the past, what that meant differed for many people. Today, however, the predominant path involves immediate entrance into college. Many high school students spend their senior years in a chaotic rush of college and scholarship applications, after all. Despite the growing real cost of studying in a university, attendance rates continue to increase. The explanation often goes that earning a degree ostensibly makes one more valuable as an employee, so the tuition, fees, and other associated costs are a justifiable expense.
Check in with a high school senior early in the school year, and you’ll find many of them doing two things: fretting about college decisions, and worrying over scholarship applications. Many students receive heavy encouragement to apply for as many scholarships as possible — why is that? The reality is that rising tuition and material costs associated with college continue to increase the financial hurdles facing students. The conventional wisdom, though, is that a college degree is worth the effort and the cash. Is that true? Do the end results justify the current price tags, or is the cost of college too high when compared with its potential benefits? A careful look at the facts shows that circumstances profoundly influence the answer.