Dear Future President,
You quickly glance at each college letter, never hesitating for longer than a second, and in one quick, fluid motion, you toss the stack into the closest trash can. This is a daily ritual for students during their senior year of high school. Filled with an array of emotions, these students find themselves debating if they should jump into the workforce or seek a higher level of education. For most, the weight associated with this decision alone can be crippling. With hundreds of options, and varying degrees of affordability, there is a constant nagging in the back of our minds until we chose the path best suited for us, which leads roughly half of young adults in the United States heading to college every fall.
The high school graduates that embark on this journey of higher education often find themselves struggling to pay off student loans, and as we witness this exchange in our friends and family members, we often find ourselves looking for a solution to help. The idea of lightening the load through free college education is one that has been on the forefront of political discussion in recent time. However, free college will not show signs of remarkable improvement to our current system of higher education. It can be assumed that free college education would increase the enrollment rates in our colleges across the nation, and would also produce a smarter, more successful workforce. Would we see a greater increase in success with more competition for more dependable jobs? Would college graduates be awarded a valuable degree if more individuals find themselves taking the same steps to success? As history has shown, when more individuals graduated high school, the value of a high school diploma slowly decreased, causing college degrees to become the new diamond in the rough.
Free college is a large investment that will see an impact from various types of working members in society. The burden of high tuition prices will not disappear, but will disperse among society. Those who have never attended a college class may be paying for someone else’s education. What would drive these individuals to pay the bill for everyone else? Would working with better trained, more knowledgeable individuals be enough of a benefit?
Countries that have implemented free college see little difference in enrollment and attainment rates in comparison to the United States. These countries, such as Germany, have very little costs associated with their college education, yet their enrollment rates are similar to the rates that we see in the United States. As of right now, free college is not showing us the results that we anticipated. Will taxpayers see a return in their investment? If we award more college degrees, will the college education still be perceived like it is today? Will college education still be seen as an advanced form of learning? To ensure a smooth transition, taxpayers need to see evidence that their money will go toward a benefit.
With free college in place, our resources will be spread thin to accommodate the growing number of students seeking higher education. If we allow for everyone to have access to a college education, but do not provide quality resources, will we see a positive result from the college degrees that will be awarded? Is our educational system strong enough to handle an increase in students without losing the quality of higher education?