I personally don’t believe that college should be free. Making it free would only serve to limit the value of the education while filling colleges with students that have no business/need there. College would become nothing more than a 4 year extension of high school if it were free. As things are now, society needs about 25% of the population to have a college degree for the jobs that require one and about 30% of the population has a degree. As a result, you hear from a lot of people that believe that they wasted time getting the degree because it’s not serving them as an employment enhancer.
Further, nothing is truly free. Were college free to all students, someone would still have to pay those bills. Public education is already the single largest expense of non-federal governments and a huge part of the federal expense. Increasing the scope of free public education would also significantly increase the costs involved – those costs must be borne by someone. So, you either pay for it now as tuition or you pay for it for the rest of your life in the form of taxes but either way, you’ll pay for it.
And then there’s the very valid point that all people aren’t really “above average” in intellect and therefor all people aren’t capable of attending and graduating from college. Our society would like to pretend that everyone is equal in motivation and intelligence but we know that’s not really true. Don’t we? What would be the result in terms of quality if we made college completely free to anyone?
Add to that problem – costs keep some people from attending. This is only bad in-as-much as it limits those individuals personally. But it’s just that barrier that makes it possible for others to attend – college seats are not an unlimited resource of which we have plenty. There are only so many colleges with so many seats and more people would like to have those seats than can.
If we removed the cost barrier then the competition for seats would be even greater and we’d still not have solved the problem of universal higher education. We’d need to have as many colleges as we have high schools to truly solve that problem. Then we’d need as many professors to teach in them in.
Just a few of the arguments against your position that you might want to prepare to counter in your essay. There are many people that believe the compulsory secondary school education movement (‘create 100% HS graduates”) was a mistake too. While being well educated is very good at the individual level – society still needs people to do jobs that those who keep gaining more education simply don’t want to do.