EDITORIAL: Higher education fails its sole purpose
Education based on indoctrinating capitalistic values
The institutional issues of higher education universally stem from one factor: It has been modeled as a microcosm of capitalist society rather than providing a model education.
The focus of higher education in the past was simply to educate yourself. Of course, it still had implications on the workforce, and of course, those with education would typically find themselves in better job positioning, but the bottom line is this: You did not need a college education to earn a living.
The earnings gap between college and high school graduates has widened dramatically.
“Not only has the gap in earnings between more-educated and less-educated workers widened over time, but the gaps are also wider among younger men as compared with older men. These differences are long-lasting and are evident even when inequality is measured on a lifetime basis," according to Urban Institute, a site dedicated to studying the well-being of United States citizens.
Why is this? Why must we bury ourselves in mountains of debt to earn what public education — our taxes — bought us a mere 80, 50 or even 30 years ago?
The fundamental change is clear: Education turned into training for capitalist society and not education. It became a staging area for the real world.
With a little digging, it is easy to see the mirroring. Most classes are graded on curves, rendering raw scores irrelevant and placing the emphasis on how you rank among your peers. It is a competition. One of the central tenants of capitalism: competition.
In the real world, you compete with your fellow citizens over jobs and promotions, and the winning few earn employment and money. In college, you compete with your peers over the highest grade, and the winning few passes and earns a degree.
The workforce emphasizes payment, the end goal of employment. Similarly, college students have renounced the roots of education and now focus on the end goal: getting a degree.
Higher education embraces the ugliest aspects of capitalism as well. Like how people under capitalism bend and break laws to earn their fair share — whether that be petty robbery or white-collar corruption — students cheat their ways to grades, the de-facto currency of the college corporation.
Under capitalism, those born into wealth have an undeniable advantage. After all, the strongest indicator of your future income is not your education level or intelligence, but your parents' income.
Surely higher education would not adopt that aspect of capitalism, would it?
Of course it did, because adopting capitalism is the purpose of college. The college bribery scandal rocked the country to its core mere months ago. Wealthy and influential parents bought their children’s way into college, just like wealth buys success in capitalism.
A common argument against this would be that we live in a capitalist country, so why would higher education not model itself the way it does?
That entire line of thinking is a direct product from the new corporate college. Imagine opening a book about something you are genuinely interested in. You are not reading it to get a job, or earn money, but to actually learn and retain information. That is what college should be. It should be firmly independent of any workforce implications. Higher education is not meant as capitalist indoctrination, but as a place to receive- get this- education.
It is understood that most college students attend in order to bolster their chances and prospects for employment. That still does not make capitalist indoctrination a positive, for one major reason: This indoctrination is a major cause for the incredible rise of tuition prices that we have seen.
When college became more specialized and capitalist centered, it became less and less of an institution of learning and more of a capitalist training center. Shortly after, college devolved from a place where the eager and privileged went to learn to a requirement, unless, of course, you like being trampled by a herd of degree-holding specialists.
Simple economics tells us that an increase in demand leads to an increase in price. College turned from champagne to water, and thus, masses of people turned to it out of sheer necessity.
The corporate college led to the awe-inducing 260% inflation of tuition since 1980. Meanwhile, all consumer items have risen 120% since. This inflation is a huge barrier for the lower class, who often benefit from education the most.
So there is a difference. While capitalism has trampled on the poor, college does not even give them a chance. This is not to completely knock capitalism, but higher education for adopting it as its model.
Higher education is an agent and product of capitalism. Grades and admission are bought, cheating is rampant and credit for courses are emphasized over the education itself.
We must get back to valuing the substance of our education over the degree it earns. You may find yourself alone in doing this, so here is a piece of advice: Life is too short to live the one everyone else does.
The Daily Targum's editorials represent the views of the majority of the 151st editorial board. Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.
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