David Leonhardt Response
In recent discussions of “The College Dropout Boom,” David Leonhardt made some interesting points on the works of society and it’s modern day views on education. Many of the ideas he presented were controversial to me, considering my previous perspective of social status’ having nothing to do with someone’s chances at graduating college.
However, there are many ideas in which he presented that I agree with, such as the belief that obtaining a college degree doesn’t necessarily promise a well-paying job. Growing up in a household where nobody has ever earned a college degree, I can say personally that it is extremely important to have one, regardless of the immediate outcome. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
One of the most interesting points made by Leonhardt was the belief that someone’s economic class can greatly impact their decision on whether or not to attend college. This is controversial to me, because along with financial aid capabilities, there are many options available to students who are struggling to afford tuition and other expenses. Even if it takes longer than intended to earn the degree, I believe it is an important thing to do.
According to Leonhardt, only 41 percent of low income students currently entering a four year college manage to graduate within five years. This is very believable, with the amount of work assigned and the tentative schedules given in college courses today, there’s a lot of pressure on the students and this causes many to enroll in fewer classes at a time.
Also, the majority of students enrolled in modern day college will also work a side job while attending. Between working and going to school, it becomes very difficult for most to succeed.
Another interesting aspect that Leonhardt presented was how the chances of economic mobility in America have declined over the past few decades. The “American Dream” has begun to cease to exist. This contributes greatly to the amount of college dropouts in modern day society, because college is mainly viewed by most as a gateway to earning the career that will move you up in the economy.
Now that people are learning that they are not necessarily promised a job, many are reconsidering their path in life. In my opinion, with the amount of money spent on tuition, supplies, and other college expenses, for some it is virtually impossible to escape the future debt that’s created. However, I think that having a college degree is still extremely important because without it, the options available to you in life are limited.
You might not be able to become what you really want to, or even attempt to pursue your dreams. Most citizens without a college degree end up getting trapped in a dead-end job for the rest of their life, struggling to survive.
On the contrary, for some people money is not the most important object in life, and many would rather be happy where they are, than out chasing dreams. For example, Andy Blevins, mentioned in the article, made the decision early on to drop out of college and continue working his job in a Virginian supermarket to support the raising of his family.
At the time, he was perfectly content with living a quiet life and raising his children humbly. College degree or not, this is the kind of life many Americans would aspire to. I think that if somebody finds what makes them happy in life, that’s all that matters. There’s no need to strive and work hard to succeed and become rich if you’re happy where you are. However, even Mr. Blevins eventually came to the realization that not having a college degree leaves him with very few options in life.
If he were ever fired or laid-off from his job, for example, he would have no experience or credentials available to search for a new one. This is the type of situation, in my opinion, that most Americans should try to avoid.
In summary, there are many possibilities and reasons as to why students would drop out of college in today’s society, and also many argumentative points as to why a college degree is so important. I think that both sides of the argument have valid points, but ultimately, it is more important to obtain a college degree if you plan on succeeding in life.
Between discussions about the decreasing amount of economic mobility, the differentials between high and low-income students, and the aspirations of a modern day American citizen, Leonhardt brought up some very interesting perspectives on college education in our generation.
Leonhardt, David. “College Dropout Boom.” New York Times. David Leonhardt, 24 May 2005.