The Importance of College Education - Essay Sample

Paper Type:  Argumentative essay
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1691 Words
Date:  2022-08-15


David Leonhardt's article Is College Worth It? New Data Say, published in the New York Times on 27th May 2014, undertook a survey to provide statistical information that was aimed at informing the readers on whether or not college is worth it. After a statistical analysis that focused on income statistics, Leonhardt indicates the following, "Yes, college is worth it, and it's not even close," (Leonhardt 4). He goes on to add that currently, the four-year degree is probably more valuable than before given the rate of unemployment and the struggles the young people have to go through to get the available jobs. In the past, job opportunities were available for both graduates and dropouts. Thus, Leonhardt sets out to show that college education is still valid despite the recent negative reviews. Similarly, this essay agrees with Leonhardt's view that college education is valuable and seeks to evaluate the critical points of his publication.

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Leonhardt targets a wide range of audiences that range from students to parents. His study was motivated by the fact that the number of students graduating from campuses has continued to increase over the years and it was a high time for people to take a step back and analyze the rate at which graduates were being released into the job market compared to the number of job opportunities available. In most cases, the campus graduates find it hard to find job opportunities while others accept jobs available, but they still feel overqualified for these particular jobs. From a student-debt point of view, the number of people applying for campuses and colleges continues to increase which means that the national students' debt continues to rise. As of 2014, the debt stood at one trillion dollars. Therefore, looking at all these factors, it was essential to answer whether or not college is worth it and especially regarding the economy.

The article focuses on high school students who are looking forward to joining the college as soon as they are finished with high school. It educates them and their parents to try and motivate students to join college after high school. With an increase in the college tuition fee - one of the main reasons why many students fail to enter college - parents can planahead and ensure that their children enter college and get that extra advantage in the job market. The article also focuses on those in colleges and campuses by encouraging them to finish college and get the degree if they are to prosper in the current job market (Leonhardt 6). For indecisive high school graduates and those waiting to join college, the writer provides information that goes to show why college is worth it. It also indirectly encourages those holding a degree certificate to pursue another higher education certificate that helps them compete with the increasing number of people that carry a degree.

A college education is crucial because it leads to better pay. According to research provided in the article based on an analysis that was carried out by the Economic Policy Institute in Washington focusing on data provide by the Labor Department indicated that the pay gap that exists between college graduates and other people has continued to rise over the years and reached a record high by the end of the year 2013. The survey indicated that in 2013, people who had degrees made 98% more an hour as compared to those who lack degrees. Around 2008, the number was at 89 percent, around 2003 the name was 85 percent, and in the early 1980's the figure stood at 64 percent (Leonhardt 5). This increment in payment disparity shows that acquiring a college can be a valuable asset in improving a person's prospective income. Furthermore, it shows that the job market has a preference towards people with college degrees as compared to high school graduates.

Secondly, the payment mentioned above disparity is as a result of the stagnation of average pay per hour for high school graduates. High school leavers and those people that have some college experience have remained relatively constant since 1980 while the salary per hour for a four-year college degree graduates has continued to increase since the same year (Leonhardt 1). This explains why the pay gap has continued to grow over the years. It is, therefore, evident that the numbers are not likely to go down any time soon and therefore, there is a need for people to enroll in colleges and strive to obtain that degree if they are to land themselves not only jobs but jobs that pay well.

Thirdly, the article indicates that if the number of graduates increased to a point where it surpassed the economic threshold; the result would be a decline in the pay gap (Leonhardt 7). This proposition means that the amount payable to a graduate would reach a particular point where he/she could not be paid more while the amount owed to a non-graduate would rise. However, that is not the case. The gap has continued to increase especially with the increase in the number of students graduating from our institutions. This increment implies that it is unlikely that the economy will reach a certain point where graduates saturate the job market. Another factor that significantly contributed to the gap was the return to school period during the Great Recession where many people went back to college to get the upper hand at the start of a new economic era. Leonhardt mentions that "The number of graduates continued to increase since that era, and the fact that the pay gap has also grown only proves that the number of graduates is still not enough" (7). Therefore, there is still more room for graduates, and therefore, colleges are always worth it.

Additionally, there is a need for more college graduates in the economy. According to an M.I.T. economist, David Autor, the number of college graduates is meager. He goes ahead to say that "the number of people preparing for colleges is minimal" (Leonhardt 8). This issue is a section of the more prominent public discussion on colleges that are not emphasized in the media. Instead, the public has focused on telling graduates and aspiring graduates that attaining the bachelor's degree does not automatically mean that one is successful. This is, indeed, a fact. A college certification may not ensure success, however, it helps one get a job better than those without it.

There is a need for change in what people have been made to believe regarding higher education. In the past, analysts have focused on discussing the limitations of education which discourages a good number of teenagers from joining colleges and adults from going back to colleges. According to Leonhardt, "the most economically rational decision anybody could make was joining college" (10). This information has been confirmed by Mr. Autor in his paper that aimed at finding out the actual cost of tuition and fees as compared to the earnings made by college graduates and those that graduate from high school.

College education has financial benefits for every person. Leonhardt cites Mr. Autor's paper that indicated that "the net cost of college is negative $500,000 and the amount seems to be rising" (Leonhardt 11). This figure shows that an individual can reduce future expenses and struggle through the acquisition of a degree. Similarly, another research demonstrates that when college graduates and non-graduates are compared, it was found out that education brings with it huge earnings meaning that no matter how high the tuition is, college is still worth it (Matthews). Therefore, college is considered to be a good investment which also raises income and is in line with Leonhardt's view of the validity of a college degree.

Apart from future savings, a college degree enables an individual to earn more money in their future work. For instance, data obtained from the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey conducted in 2011, the median annual earnings in relation to the education level indicated that those that did not graduate high school earned close to $18,703, those that graduated from high school received close to $28,659, those that have some college education but lack a degree earned close to$32,036, those with associate's degrees earned close to $36,853, bachelor's degree earned close to $49,648, while those with professional degrees earned up to $87,356 (Matthews 2). This information confirms the information provided by Leonhardt; the degree does guarantee better pay as compared to those that lack it. It also shows that there should be more conversation to ensure that college graduates strive to attain a professional degree if they are to compete with fellow graduates whose numbers increase annually.

Furthermore, these financial benefits of college degrees correspond to Leonhardt's counter to the debt claims of critics. Leonhardt, mentions that student debt has risen to one trillion due to the increase in college graduates (2). However, he also argues that "the average student debt for the duration of a degree is only $25,000" (Leonhardt 17). The prospective gains of a college degree far outweigh the amount of debt acquired by college students. Moreover, it puts college graduates at a better level of climbing up the economic ladder than their counterparts without a college education despite any economic challenge.


College is beneficial to people in the technological age. Many individuals have been deceived into believing that colleges are a waste of time and resources. However, despite the criticism of student debt and low wages due to economic recession Leonhardt can bring out the overall advantages of a college degree. Furthermore, this essay has shown that the author's argument is convincing and prove the importance of college degrees. It is, therefore, high time for the conversation to switch and for people to focus on the advantages that are brought about by colleges and the degrees they offer. There is enough evidence to show that the number of graduates is still low when compared to the job-market demands.

Work Cited

Leonhardt, David. "Is College Worth It? Clearly, New Data Say". Nytimes.Com, 2014, Accessed 24 Sept 2018.

Matthews, Dylan. "The Tuition Is Too Damn High, Part II: Why College Is Still Worth It". Washington Post, 2013, Accessed 24 Sept 2018.

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