Is College Really Worth It?

Photo by Greta Nagy


Bryan Caplan, author of the new novel “The Case Against Education,” has been in school for almost forty years, as a traditional student, a post-graduate achieving higher education, and now, a professor. So why does the king of the education hierarchy argue against future generations following in his footsteps?


“Learning doesn’t have to be useful. Learning doesn’t have to be inspirational. When learning is neither useful nor inspirational, how can we call it anything but wasteful?” Caplan argues.


Caplan believes the US should embrace a vocational education. He argues that the lack of usefulness and inspiration in the current education system is not worth the immense price tag.

College dents students’ financial futures all around the United States, and Chapman University, at an annual fee of $52,340, is no exception.


The cost of a traditional college education often puts a barrier between an individual and their future, according to Caplan; therefore, he argues that schooling isn’t worth the cost when many of the skills taught are fruitless.


The main point of vocational education is to teach concrete job skills that’s not just to show off,” Caplan said in an interview with Business Insider.


According to The Business Insider, European countries including Switzerland and Germany have a larger emphasis on vocational education. In these education systems, teenagers are trained in specific job areas and gain crucial skills.


“Typical students burn thousands of hours studying material that neither raises their productivity nor enriches their lives,” Caplan said.


Based on Bryan Caplan’s case of limited returns on post graduate investments, students pondered if their college education is really worth it.


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Jake Bishop, a sophomore biology major, hopes to attend medical school in his future. Without his scholarship, Bishop admits that he would be attending a less rigorous college, if any at all.


“My parents are paying,” Bishop said, “They told me they wouldn’t pay for Chapman without a scholarship and that’s why I’m stressed about my grades. If I lose my scholarship, I transfer.”

Caplan is pushing for spending less on education, to avoid the problem of not being able to pursue one’s life aspirations. According to The Business Insider, people who are unable to pay for college or are denied funding, are at a disadvantage in life.


“I want to go to medical school and I need a college education in order to do so,” Bishop said. “Chapman is worth the money because of the individual attention and the opportunities I get, it’s just a matter of making use of them,” Bishop said.


Although some students are faced with figuring out how to attend college on their own, others are more fortunate. Sarah De Surville, sophomore sociology major, has her four years of college paid in full by her parents.


“I feel grateful for my parents paying for my college. College is important to me because I feel like I won’t get hired without a degree. I believe that Chapman could be better at utilizing the money we get,” De Surville said.


Freshman business major, Tara Katims, is paying for Chapman without scholarships. Katims’s parents support her by paying Chapman’s four-year tuition. Tara speaks about how she feels pressured to make it up to her parents in the future, while at the same time making her education worthwhile.


“I feel guilty that my parents are paying, honestly,” Katims said. “College is insanely important to me, because I feel like without it you don’t qualify for over half the jobs that you need to support a future family and have good quality of life.”


Photo by Greta Nagy


Tara Katims believes that the business skills she learns at Chapman will help her achieve her goal of practicing international business and real estate.


“I guess I would be that homeless thirty-year-old still living with my parents if I didn’t take the college path. I plan on going to graduate school after Chapman as well,” Katims said.


According to an article from The Economist, a four year college degree can cause individuals a setback of nearly $60,000 a year. The Pew Research Center concludes that many students might end up more behind than if they had opted out of college in the first place.


“The lessons you’ll never need to know after graduation start in kindergarten,” Caplan said.


Greta Nagy & Lauren Thomas

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