Classic English Literature
Charles Murray’s Are Too Many People Going to College addresses the concern of many who question the theory of whether too many students are going to college. By engaging a number of experts in the discussion, questions such as the effect on the economy if the number of students attending colleges increased substantially, who would or should pay for the students who attend college, and how do the costs of going to college outweigh the benefits of employment and so on are considered. Murray’s view that ten to fifteen percent of the nation’s youth has the skills to do well in a four-year residential college experience, and the view of other experts is considered in keeping with the social contract in studying the consequences.
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Are too many people going to college? Murray believes they are, and because of this, there is far too much of pressure on who should fund their studies. Murray says that the majority of American colleges have students who are either studying there for the sake of studying, or those who are forced to attending college and fail because of their inability to cope with the pressure to study. In most cases, the urge to pursue college education is creating a rift in the American class system. Because of the urge, many Americans believe that college education is the standard into the class of the intellectual elite. Murray however, fails to take into consideration the various motivators that enhance learning and success among students. Murray claims that student’s pursuit of a four-year college education can do them more harm than good because they spend a lot more time in trying to earn a degree. Murray says that a student would already have learnt a lot of what they would learn in college from experience, and that it wasn’t necessary for them to spend time in pursuit of a degree. The time they spend studying in classrooms and at home can be utilized instead, on more constructive things. Therefore, the time spent in colleges would be a waste of time. He recommends knowledge transfer begin in K-8 grades, and high school learning should be more on humanities and social sciences. In saying that students need not attend college as they get enough exposure and experience elsewhere, Murray’s argues that students don’t actually need to study a four-year degree in college as a prerogative to become successful. It’s not as though students learn more when learning in class; they might be learning something that they already known. What colleges can’t teach in classrooms can be learnt outside, and as long as they have the capability to learn, they can learn it anywhere other than the classroom.
Murray’s question is something that many academicians and educationists have pondered for many years. There are two sides to this theory; one is that what do students get after their four years in college, and two, why spend so much money in education when one can get the same if not better knowledge in the ‘ real’ world? College education isn’t cheap anymore; not that it was any lesser, but with more and more people opting to go to college, the classrooms are filling up and it just doesn’t seem attractive anymore. Murray argues that the concept of college and education is changing. In the introduction, for example, Murray states “ more people should be going to college, not fewer. Yes and no,” (Murray). True, more people should be going to college, but the question is, who? Murray says that there shouldn’t be a premium on salaries for those who carry a four-year degree; it should be good enough if a person can prove that he or she knows the work. There should be no justification in someone saying that he or she went to college and studied for four-years and so should therefore be paid more. When it has been proven that scoring above average marks in arts and sciences requires a certain level of ability that only a small percent of the country’s youth possess, it doesn’t mean that only that meagre percent of people should have more than a high-school education. The model of education is wrong, he counters. Because of what has become mandatory as a job requirement, the only way out of this social injustice is to substitute certifications for the bachelor’s degree. Murray has a point, and this is further supported by the fact that the statistics of a student’s financial situation in college and their level of competency suggests that students are finding it difficult to make their ends meet. On the one side, you have students who strive hard to earn a degree that they feel is necessary for them to get a respectable job and position, and on the other, they do part-time jobs to pay their term fees. Where do they get the time to study, and if they get some time, is it going to assure them a good grade? As he mentions in the book; “ For students who want to become a good hotel manager, software designer, accountant, hospital administratorfour years of class work is ridiculous.” Similarly, “ when high-school graduates think that obtaining a B. A. will help them get a higher-paying job, they are only narrowly correct” “ Employers value the B. A. because it is a no-cost screening device for academic ability and perseverance.” (Murray).
Murray’s book, Are Too Many People Going to College is seen by many people as criticism of the education system in the country. The book reveals a number of valid points that address the concerns of students studying in colleges today. Students, who can’t afford college fees, take loans from banks, and once they start college, they are bound by the accumulating interest on loan. However, while the loan covers a part of their fees, most of these students work part-time to meet their other expenses, because of which, they have limited or little time for their class work. Murray’s analysis that the system is faulty can be gauged by the mandatory job requirements imposed on students, and this has led to colleges filling up. Students need to understand what they need and not get carried away by the media hype on degrees for better jobs. As Murray rightly pointed out; “ There has never been a time in history when people with skills not taught in college have been at such demand at such high pay as today, nor a time when the range of jobs has been so wide. finding the first rate skilled labor is hard” (Murray).
Murray, Charles A. Real Education. New York: Crown Forum, 2008. Print.