Essay On Purpose of Higher Education

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In my opinion, higher education may be defined as the final level of formal learning that follows high school. It is usually optional and is offered at universities, colleges and academies. Article 13 of the United Nations International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights provides that higher education should be made accessible to all using the appropriate means. Therefore, those who have qualified to pursue higher learning should be availed the opportunity so that they can explore the options before achieving their goals.

The issue of higher education is an aspect that has been highly talked of in many media platforms. Every country has set laws and regulations regarding the issue of higher education. First, the primary business of higher education is and needs to be the creation of prepared minds. This is an aspect that has brought debates due to the aspect of commercializing. Commercializing is said to lead to the erosion of the core mission of preparing mind. There are various purposes associated with higher education. The first one is to create prepared minds. This is the aspect of making students become more to become an asset to the country.

The societal perception of higher education is that once a person attains it, they will get a well paying job thus betterment of their livelihood. However, this does not apply across the board. Some people pursue higher learning only as a stepping stone to where they want to reach. This is usually the case for those who have been offered a scholarship due to their prowess in sports.

Contrary to the belief that the purpose of higher education is only for the material benefit of getting good money, David Foster Wallace has a different opinion. In his opinion, higher education teaches and gives students the choice of what to think of instead of it being all about one’s capacity to think (Wallace, 1). Higher education accords students with the freedom of choice; they choose how to live their life, what courses to pursue while in campus and whether or not to engage in co-curricular activities. In turn, this shapes up their decision making skills and thus enabling them to know what to choose when faced with challenging situations. To quote David Foster, he says: “If you are a student like me…you tend to feel a bit insulted by the claim that you needed anybody to teach you how to think, since the fact that you even got admitted to a college this good seems like proof that you already know how to think” (Wallace, 1-2)

Louis Menand on the other hand, was of the opinion that the value of education was taken for granted (Menand, 1). He too had taken it for granted until one of his students had challenged him with the unspoken question of justifying their investment in college education by questioning why they read certain books (Menand, 1). In his opinion, picking the most intelligent person is not as easy a picking the most beautiful as it is a question that cannot be answered by answering an assessment test (Menand, 1). Intelligent people have a lot of varying characteristics that cannot be readily measured. Therefore, the society needs a channel that will enable it sort out people according to their level of intelligence so that they can be directed to the right career path (Menand, 1). Higher education can be very effective when it comes to this (Menand, 1). At colleges, students showcase the intellect while engaging in various activities such as learning and debates (Menand, 1). As such, their intelligence will be determined by the grades they get throughout their college life and the end result will be their I.Q. which will be relied on by employers to gauge them before giving them an opportunity (Menand, 1).

In addition to this, he is of the opinion that higher education also helps in socializing students (Menand, 1). At colleges, people of different races, backgrounds, nationalities, personalities and belief converge with the aim of learning. Consequently, people should go to college because it “gets everyone on the same page” (Menand, 1). The differences are united by the common goal students aspire to achieve. The colleges bring the students in check because they have “to master the accepted ways of doing things before they are permitted to deviate” (Menand, 1).

According to Professor X, some students go to college because they must and not as matter of choice (Professor X, 1). He says that at the colleges he has worked for: “For many of my students, college was not a goal they spent years preparing for but a place they landed in”  (Professor X, 1). Such students get poor or indifferent grades and do not participate in extracurricular activities (Professor X, 1). Some students make applications to college only because it was ranked highly and not because it was their first choice (Professor X, 1). Some students resort to going to college after “a large swath of simple middle-class existence, 20 years of the demands of home and family (Professor X, 1). They work during the day and come to class in the evenings” (Professor X, 1). Some students only come to college because certain credits are needed so that they can advance at work, receive a raise, become police officers or municipal employees (Professor X, 1). The bottom line is that these students do not pursue higher education because it will give them money but because it is the only way they can get what they desire.

There are some other purposes of higher education including it being a vital tool for one to live a principled, meaningful, and significant life, to collectively and ultimately improve the society. This means that higher education trains actors, artists, communicators, authors, technologists, educators, and health professionals among others. This also means that the career that one achieves is what helps them change themselves and the community. The other purpose of higher education is the promotion of citizenship. Having citizens, who are caring, understanding, and who can speak the truth is very important.

In this day and age, the purpose of education has been lost on people. Most of them view it as the key to a better life rather than a way to bettering themselves through knowledge and experience. Others do not accord higher learning the seriousness it deserves. As earlier discussed, it is nowadays not a priority to most people. They go to college so that they can get out, get and a job and make money. This is not helped by the fact that Universities have turned the provision of education as a lucrative business rather than a calling where money is their key concern. It is for this reason that many students do not take higher learning seriously. It is an age old occurrence that parents usually want us to do things their way. They want us to go to colleges we never even contemplated and do courses that we hate or do not interest us. It is therefore not surprising that students view the purpose of higher education as a means to please their parents and get them off their case.

To sum up, the purpose of higher education can be as broad a people want it to be. With the diverse cultures and ideologies, we cannot understand its purpose as the same. The society understands it differently, so do the students, parents and teachers. For the society, higher education helps it to bridge the challenging gap posed by diversity. It integrates the different cultures, races and backgrounds making them appear as one. For parents and students, higher education is a stepping stone to better career and thus a well paying job with a lot of money. Teachers on the other hand view its purpose as compulsory rite of passage for every human being who wants to better him or herself.

We cannot pin it down with a single purpose but for a brighter future, the purpose as viewed by others should be objective. In conclusion, the aspect of higher education purpose is very vital to the citizens of any country. As illustrated above, it is wide clear that higher education is a tool that is designed to help change the people to more reasonable people. The other aspect as explained by the essay is the creation of citizenship. This is an aspect that makes it possible for the citizens of that country to carry themselves with dignity. Higher education should be effectively enhanced and laws set to ensure it progresses.
Wallace, David F. “This is Water.” The Economist Intelligent Life September 2008: 1-2
Menand, Louis. “Live and Learn.”  The New Yorker June 2011: 1
Professor X. “In the Basement of the Ivory Tower.” The Atlantic June 2008: 1-6