Christopher Caldwell, author of the New York Times article “What a College Education Buys,” believes many people attend college for the wrong reasons. He says college is overrated and that many go just to socialize or to find a partner (214). He also states if you are going to college to obtain a liberal arts degree and not Phd, education may not be worth all the studying or the money many parents pay (214-215). He goes on to say even though college is expensive, degrees are becoming too obtainable and having a degree would ultimately not be worth anything (214-215). Although many may agree with Caldwell’s opinions on a college education not being worth the time or money, there are many who obtain a degree for financial reasons, to reach personal goals, or because of parental pressure.
Take Laura C, all she wanted in life was to become a wife and a stay at home mom. It was not long before she had it all a husband, a two-year-old son, and a baby on the way. Then, without any warning, her life was turned upside down when her husband became extremely ill and passed away a few days later. In the midst of grieving, she began to wonder how she was going to raise two children without a husband and no college education. She decided going to college was the only way she would be able to adequately provide for her children.
She applied and was accepted to North Carolina State University. Upon graduating, she obtained a position with the Guilford County School System teaching high school English. Now, fifteen years later, she is returning to college to obtain her master’s degree. If she is asked the question Caldwell poses in his article, “What the hell are you going to do with a [master’s] degree in English?” (215) she can say continue to provide for my family the best way I know how.
Another reason some people go to college is to accomplish personal goals. Becoming a nurse has always been my life-long goal. After high school, I went to college and decided it was not for me at that point in life. Then when I got married and had a child, having an education became less important; I just figured I had missed my chance. Years have passed and I have faced enormous obstacles throughout life. For example, being diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, this turned my whole world apart. In the words of Alyssa Reyans, author of _Letters from a Bipolar Mother_ :
Bipolar robs you of that which is you. It can take from you the very core of your being and replace it with something that is completely opposite of who and what you truly are. Because my bipolar went untreated for so long, I spent many years looking in the mirror and seeing a person I did not recognize or understand. Not only did bipolar rob me of my sanity, but it robbed me of my ability to see beyond the space it dictated me to look. I no longer could tell reality from fantasy, and I walked in a world no longer my own (Reyans).
I could not describe my life any better than the above quote. I never thought going back to school with a profound mental disability was an option, but eventually realized I could no longer lie in bed, depressed and letting the thoughts of killing myself control my life. I could not leave my family devastated the way my dad had. I knew then that going back to school would be the best thing for my mental health and me. Some think my career choice is too specialized and may not leave employment opportunities wide open; on the contrary, with the world we live in, nursing positions will always be available (214). It may have taken me a while to get to this point, but in a few years, I will reach that goal I set out to do long ago.
Stacey S, a mother in her mid-thirties had no desire to attend college, but was forced to go by her mother who said she could not see Stacey struggling from paycheck-to-paycheck. Stacey finally realized she could not change her mother’s mind and that she better “go there and get qualified” for some career (214). She became a special education teacher and met her husband. Stacey’s mother had no idea that by making her daughter go to college, she enabled her to not only gain an education, but a husband as well.
As Caldwell points out in his article “What a College Education Buys,” college degrees may be obtainable, and not everyone wants one, however for some it becomes a necessity because of financial reasons, personal goals, or parental pressure. College can often turn out to be an unexpected and rewardingly positive experience and the individuals who attend college are those that truly want education to play a significant role in their lives.
Caldwell, Christopher. “What a College Education Buys.” Writing From Sources. Ed. Brenda
Spatt. Eighth edition. New York: Bedford/St.Martins, 2011. 213-15. Print.
Reyans, Alyssa. “Letters from a Bipolar Mother.” _Goodreads_. Ed. Elizabeth Khuri Chanter.
Goodreads Inc., 2013. Web. 11 Nov. 2013.
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