Fifty-one-year-old former senator Frank Antenori does not understand why people still go to college. The former Green Beret thinks that students “go [to university] to get brainwashed and learn how to become activists and basically go out in the world and cause trouble.” Antenori is an important voice of a conservative movement that aims to decrease the importance of higher education in the United States. The no-named campaign is mostly supported by Trump sympathizers, who agree with statements that colleges “have gone crazy.” The movement believes universities have become politically correct institutions that do not teach useful skills for the job market. What this movement misses, however, is that without intellectual knowledge and rational discernment, practical skills are not enough to secure a position in the job market.
Higher education is more vital than ever as jobs that only require a high school degree continue to disappear. How should we expect the next generation to thrive if we have created a society which condemns the institution of higher education necessary to create a livelihood? However opposed to education conservatives may be, college is also proven to produce graduates who earn more in the workforce and pay more taxes. Implying that higher education threatens conservative views speaks volumes to the beliefs of conservative groups. An anti-education stance means you are against people who positively contribute to society, most of whom are in one way or another providing services to the conservatives who disapprove of their education. Doctors, politicians and media producers of all forms would not be able to contribute to society as wholly as they do without their experiences and degrees.
There is no way around it: higher education provides great opportunities for its graduates. It does not matter if Republicans and so-called alt-right conservatives believe in the statistic or not; it is a fact that having a diploma on your wall provides more resources for people to get better jobs. It is ignorant that this movement aims to diminish the value of colleges and politicizes the simple act of wanting to pursue a higher education. Everyone who is able to attend a higher education institution should do so, whether they are Republican, Democrat or Independent. Going to college not only makes you learn more about your professional field, but it also provides experiences that push you to find who you are and what you want. Labeling this important step as riotous and unnecessary belittles the importance of higher education both in an individual’s life and in the grand scheme of the world.
Universities are flawed and their issues must be addressed, but they are still worth it. Are universities elitists? Definitely. Legacy students are the most definitive example, as they are prioritized just because they have parents or grandparents who attended the same institution. But does that mean going to university is not worth it? Education provides better career opportunities that make people contribute more to society. It helps to increase economic mobility. If not for the rising price of tuition and consequential amount of student debt, college is the best option for a young adult. It is not up to a group of old, white men to define whether younger generations should go to college. This kind of mentality just emphasizes how practical skills are not enough when critical thinking is not encouraged.
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