Should Everyone Go to College Essay Example

Our daily life is influenced by too many factors, we learn, we observe and then we either agree or disagree or are completely indifferent to what we see. Sometimes we also tend to follow what everyone else is doing, and that could be the right thing to do, but then once in a while, we do need to think differently about a certain topic. This is what Owen and Sawhill have directed our attention towards, through their essay “Should everyone go to college?”. The title itself brings up a point that most of us would not think of because attending college is considered universally applicable to every student and that other options don’t exist. I came across an advertisement which made me think of something similar. The advertisement was about “Mathnasium” which is a tutoring center for mathematics. The target audience for this advertisement are parents of 2nd–12th-grade kids.

The advertisement makes several claims like boosting confidence, higher grades within a fun learning environment and that too at an affordable price. Education today is gaining importance and more and more parents are sending their kids to tutoring centers like Mathnasium for many reasons. Most of them want to send their kids to these centers because it is a kind of “trend”. Similar to a college education, Owen and Sawhill’s essay “Should everyone...?” can be applied to Mathnasium by framing the question that asks, whether “Mathnasium” is relevant for all kids and whether it will help every kid equally. By applying this question to the advertisement, it can be argued that Mathnasium is not for every kid, that parents are succumbing to social pressure, and that not every child is ready for it. On the contrary, it could turn out that “Mathnasium” actually helps in terms of school selectivity, it can also be said that mathematics is a general subject and also that taking extra classes helps in being prepared early for the college years. 

Statistics says college isn’t for everyone

By providing us with statistical data on the rate of return on education Owen and Sawhill have argued that going to college might not be the right decision for everyone and the same could be true about “Mathnasium” that not every kid needs it. Owen and Sawhill have stated that “What gets less attention is the fact that not all college degrees or college graduates are equal.” (Owen and Sawhill 318-319) The same applies to kids as well, that not all kids are equal. The time that kids spend learning mathematics, could be spent at something they are better at, which would help them in the long run. For example, if a child is good at soccer, and he spends time at the playground honing his skills then when he grows up, he would opt for sports training than spending time getting a college degree, which if he did would cost him money and he wouldn’t be successful.

Owen and Sawhill have thrown light on this very aspect, and their thesis is one to apply for kids also. Learning to master a subject is crucial, but can every kid be a master of mathematics? Many times other skills go unrecognized just because it is something unique to the child. There is a need for the parents to understand that comparing their child’s progress to other kids is not always the right thing to do. A child may be more interested in music and soccer but there are not enough tutoring centers for these skills and hence there is no urge to develop skills in these areas. 

How society affects

Also, sometimes parents are themselves under societal pressure to send their kids to these centers. Owen and Sawhill have started their essay with an interesting fact that says “For the past few decades, it has been widely argued that a college degree is a prerequisite to entering the middle class in the United States.” (Owen and Sawhill 318). This statement clearly talks about the income levels that exist in the society, and higher the society the more the emphasis on educational training. Parents are always thinking of their child’s future and when they come across advertisements like this one, they go in that direction. What is noteworthy is that these advertisements reach every parent through the media and thus more and more of them send their kids to tutoring centers and eventually, it becomes a societal trend.  

Further, with the changing societal scenario what goes unnoticed is the fact that parents might be ready but not the child. It is crucial to figure out what the child likes or dislikes in terms of education. Owen and Sawhill have drawn our attention to this issue by stating that “We emphasize that 17- or 18-year-old deciding whether and where to go to college should carefully consider his or her own likely path of education and career before committing a considerable amount of time and money to that degree.” In other words, the authors are asking the teenagers to think before they leap. This applies to students who would read this advertisement and be tempted to enroll for the classes, and here again, there is time and money involved. It is possible that the student is not ready but the parents think it to be the sole option for their kids and might not consider the readiness. Also, what can be considered here is that advertisements have a greater reach and they may detract a student. So, whether one is ready or not, it might be possible that a student takes these classes because he comes across this advertisement more often. This is to say that a student might just go for it because he is influenced by the advertisement. 

Positive points of college

On the contrary, there could be positive implications of sending kids to Mathnasium like places, one of them being about school selectivity in the later years. Owen and Sawhill have divided their essay in terms of variations that we never consider when it comes to deciding about college. These are-variation by school selectivity, variation by field of study and career and variation in graduation rates. After having read “Should everyone...?” and then looking at the advertisement, the first thing that came to my mind was, is mathematics for every kid? But then it also made me think that mathematics is a subject that many kids don’t feel confident about, and if they could be made to understand it through tutoring like “Mathnasium”, then it would build the foundation for future.

This would help the child succeed in the future. For a child, who is confident about a certain major when he grows up, the rate of return would definitely be high. For example, this would be due to the fact that he/she would have the opportunity to select a school that is higher in rank. Owen and Sawhill have pointed at this in their essay when they say “People who attended the most selective private schools have a lifetime earnings premium of over $620,000 (in 2012).” (Owen and Sawhill 323) In other words, attending a school which guarantees a better return is possible only if you can get into that school, and being prepared for it means being successful career-wise, and “Mathnasium” seems to help in that preparation. More often than not, mathematics is also tested on the entrance tests of a college, and this is reason enough for sending kids to these tutoring centers and advertisements like these make sense in such a scenario. 

Also, in contrast with Owen and Sawhill, “Mathnasium” might argue that mathematics is a general subject and every child deserves a chance to learn it better. Owen and Sawhill’s essay provides statistical data that says “The highest earning occupation category is architecture and engineering with computers, math and management in second place.” (Owen and Sawhill 325-326). Which proves the importance of learning mathematics, and thus if a child is already good at say mathematics, it might help him or her in making decisions about what major to pick when deciding about a college major. Also, the advertisement talks about boosting confidence in kids, which could be the first step towards a brighter future. This would lead to a better rate of return on education because these kids will be better at academics when they go to college, something that Owen and Sawhill pointed out through the statistical data on mathematics related occupation.  


Finally, being prepared early makes sense considering the time and money spent in the later years of education. At this point Owen and Sawhill’s statement “One way to estimate the value of education is to look at the increase in earnings associated with an additional year of schooling.” What could be interpreted here is that being prepared in the early years of educational training is beneficiary for the students when they go to college. The Mathnasium advertisement is for 2nd –12th graders, which means they want students who are about to enter college and thus even before starting the college admission process a student is almost ready for the years to come. The return on education, in this case, would be higher because a student is already prepared for the next step and it saves him or her time which in turn saves money and guarantees a better future.  

Overall, Owen and Sawhill’s essay brings forward a question that could be applied to education in the early years too. Another way to look at this advertisement from “Mathnasium” is that it might be the answer to Owen and Sawhill’s question, that being prepared means being better at picking a path in the future. Having said that, also what I think is, it is important to weigh the pros and cons of making decisions related to a child's intellect and interest, and not going with what everyone else is doing. Most parents send their kids to tutoring centers just because it is popular and they hear other parents doing that, but every kid is different and needs to pursue what he/she is good at. It could be mathematics or music, but the decision should be based on a child’s intellect and not on the popularity of a concept.



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