Point: Do the benefits of a college education outweigh the costs?

Sabina Unni, Assistant Opinion Editor

The major problem with skipping college and immediately starting technical training or internships is that it breeds I-shaped professionals instead of T-shaped professionals. I-shaped professionals possess functional and disciplinary skills in the fields they choose to study. In comparison, T-shaped professionals possess the ability to apply this learned knowledge in all situations. When one particular skill easily becomes obsolete, the ability to adapt and combat structural unemployment becomes vital, especially in the fields of engineering and technology.

IBM, a technology company, holds a joint T-summit with Michigan State University in order to invest in T-shaped progessionals and students

“Many companies, including IBM, are anxious to recruit T-shaped engineering students, expecting them to solve problems in their technical fields within the context of the entire organization,” said Bob Dunn of the University of Notre Dame’s Center of Nano Science and Technology at the summit this past year. “These students will be in high demand when they graduate and apply for jobs.”

“We need T-shaped graduates who can work well together to co-create solutions for a smarter planet,” said Jim Spohrer, Director of Global University programs.

“Every field will require T- professional development,” said Dr. Phil Gardner of Michigan State University.

A recent study conducted at Zhejiang University further emphasized that those who are more T-shaped will be more likely to have successful careers.

Many recent arguments against college postulate that people are pursing irrelevant degrees, causing a lack of relevance in actual fields. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Even if a specific degree is not required for a certain area in the work force, those who have a college degree get paid considerably more than those who don’t.

According to a study taken at the Center on Education and the Work Force in Georgetown University, a dishwasher, a job that does not require a specific degree, who goes to college for four years, will make 83% more than one who does not go to college, on average. A childcare worker who goes to college for four years will make 80% more than one who does not go to college. This is because college prepares the youth for the work force, teaching the youth of our nation how to behave in a work environment.

“Education helps people do higher skilled work, get jobs with better paying companies or open their own business,” said David Leonhardt of the New York Times.

The primary benefits of college simply cannot be quantified. College has intangible benefits that cannot be achieved in the same magnitude without attending college. Even if someone only attends for a portion of the time, college teaches students new skills, and yields them the opportunity to try new things. It allows the opportunity to become a well-rounded person; through teaching them preparedness in fields they consider pursuing and exposing them to higher level thinking.

“In the society we live in, college is different for everyone,” said senior Lena Kogan. “Personally, I want to be able to challenge myself alongside people who are just as passionate about learning as I am at a school that cares about my success just as much as I do.”

Even though numerous studies, such as the aforementioned Georgetown University study, point towards college as the path to monetary success, the benefits cannot be confined to monetary success. Problem solving and critical thinking are skills that can be gained in college and are helpful throughout life. College also teaches young individuals independence, because for many it is their first time living without aid of guardians. This benefits them immediately.

“College is important because it allows students the opportunity to be independent without completely throwing them out into the world on their own,” said senior Caitlin Ferris.

It is also a networking opportunity. Talking to people from all walks of life and establishing relationships is of the utmost importance. The current president of the United States, Barack Obama, who competeled undergraduate studies at Columbia University and then went to Harvard Law School. Out of President Obama’s cabinet, one fifth shared either his college or law school. This is not a political statement; it just shows the sheer value of networking.

College provides numerous benefits, from shaping more analytical individuals  to simply providing graduates with increased wages.