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Should College Education be Free?

Let’s clarify that when we talk about free education we are talking about state colleges and universities, not the private ones.

I do believe that every person in this country should have access to higher education. I also believe that we are stuck with the same standards of 100 years ago, where the only way for a person to be considered educated is to have completed a 4-year degree in a traditional college or university. So because I don’t believe in keeping the same standards, I don’t agree that our country should spend limited resources and provide free higher education to people. It would be investing in something that is broken.

The system is not working; students are coming out of colleges and universities with debt and not enough skills to be productive. A college degree does not assure anyone a job, nor does a college diploma make one employable. So while we are getting those results with a paying system, making it free won’t make the system better, it may actually water it down.

Another aspect where I disagree with free education is that while making an important aspect of society available to all, it does not teach the recipient the value of earning what you get. The students would have no “skin in the game,” no appreciation for what they are getting and society will have to pay for it in the form of higher taxes versus no proven return on investment.

My proposed solution to this issue is as follows: Make the first two years or the general requirements free to all students; that way we provide them an opportunity to figure out what they like and what they would like to pursue as a career.

For the next two years, the ones where you are studying for your major, make students pay for it; either by paying for it with their own money, getting loans and pay the loans like it exists now, or return the loan by working for a couple of years for the country paying back the loan.

Additionally, each major should have specific standards / curriculum that each class must have (across the country) in order to be considered to have mastered that course. Having said that, taking a class is not the only way to get credit for that class.  If one can prove mastery in the subject, by taking a test, one gets the credits for that class. So if one can prove that one has all the required skills for a specific major, the student should get the degree regardless of how those skills were acquired.

In conclusion, just making programs free does not necessarily makes them better or more affordable.  By affordable, I mean for society as a whole, and not only to the immediate recipient of the free program.  Fix the way higher education is set up now, give access to everyone to higher education, and make students learn not only their respective interest but also the value of working for their goals.

By Designated Driver

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