Is a university education worth the time and money?

There is now a lot of discussion in the United States now as to whether a university education is worth the time or money, such as in this article: … e_worth_it

A lot of the problem in the US is peculiar to the American educational system, but I think some of the problems are universal.

There are a lot of statistics reported that show that university graduates make more money. However, people who examine the statistics more closely say that someone with the type of personality necessary to finish university will make more money than average whether he attends university or not.

And some people say that many of the most successful people in the United States were not good students. At an architectural school near me, they say that after graduation, the A students end up teaching, and the B students end up being employed by the C students.

Do you think that a university education is important to success? Do you think that many people would do better in training programs?

Something mentioned at my graduation ceremony at UW was this:

Education is worthwhile for the education itself – at a tech school a person is trained to do a specific task; at a traditional college/university, a person is trained to use his or her brain.

In my opinion, the broader spectrum of learning offered as part of a Bachelor’s degree far exceeds that which a vocational student receives.

That’s an important thing to think about, Tom.

The only thing that would make me dispute it is that many of the courses at American universities are dumbed down to make the class less work for the professor, and to get him better scores on the instructor evaluations that the students fill out.

For this reason I find that a lot of students don’t actually know how to think when they leave college, but only to mouth ideologies. They fall for a lot of nonsense and can’t reason their way out of it.


This is interesting and I think universal as you said Jamie. I can not pass comment on the US system. However criticism in the UK is that often people leave University and end up in dead end jobs or to paraphrase the classic quote, “work for MaccieDees”.

I agree with Tom about the broad base that Bachelors gives most graduates.
But I also think that the issue you raise is dependant on how responsible you feel for your own education and career. What I mean by this comes down to drive. A lot of people expect the job to be there for them after Uni.

Also I think that thinking for yourself is something Uni can teach you in the UK, however some professors don´t want you to do this. OR the student just in the end wants to pass with high grades.

If I think about the clashes I had with my professors or even at Uni interviews before acceptance, I think this is what helped me think for myself more.
Some professors helped me along the way, but others I think want to form a certain kind of graduate or do not like being challenged.

My Bachelors was not as worthwhile as some of my other education, however poked the “never give up” factor that may have needed to be awakened.

Jamie, right, some survey-style classes may only involve reading a text and taking a couple of multiple-choice exams.

To me, the more worthwhile courses are those that require the student to write, whether it’s a term paper or the writing done on a blue-book test.

To write, one must argue. To argue effectively, one must have researched the topic and clearly formed the argument(s).

So while the less-involved classes might leave students with empty ideological phrases, a student who is forced to write will not only learn how to write, but also how to research a topic and form arguments in defense of an opinion on that topic.

I’ve attended two colleges in my life.

At Wisconsin I took some non-writing classes like intro Chemistry, Finite Math and Calculus. Those are not traditionally writing-intensive courses – Math and Chemistry were (of course) more objective – based on set rules that were displayed/proved in mathematical and chemical equations. I did learn a lot in these classes.

Every Social Science or Literature class I took did require a good deal of research and writing. Some if these classes were:

The Age of Jefferson and Jackson
Political Science 101
Processes of Deviant Behavior
Media Research Methods
Population Problems (Demography)
Advertising Media Planning
Fairy Tales of Hans Christian Andersen

The writing in these classes (and more) was rewarding, hard work, and… often fun.

Every Belmont MBA class except for introductory Accounting required at least two papers and most required that and multiple short writing assignments.