What is the purpose of going to college?

How would you answer the questions: In your perspective, what is the purpose of going to college? The below paragraphs need slight rephrasing, and if you can add additional information that aligns with the writing of this short essay, it is much appreciated.

“Many people now have begun to ask whether college is worth it. And who’s to blame them? With college tuition rising at astronomical levels, it’s reasonable to think prospective consumers will do a more careful “return on investment” calculation. But instead of asking whether it’s worth it, we’d be better off asking a different question: what’s the purpose of college? Without nailing this answer, it’s impossible to discern whether it will be or was worth it. Even more importantly, being clear about the purpose of college also helps us make the most of it.

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The problem is that our national narrative about “college” has created a decidedly false dichotomy between the two primarily professed purposes of college. There is the camp that says college is about preparing a person for work – to help them get a good or better job. In fact, this is by far the most commonly cited reason why Americans value higher education – to get a good job. The other camp says college is about more broadly preparing a person for success in life – to be an engaged and enlightened citizen capable of thinking critically and communicating clearly, ultimately able to thrive in their well-being. Make no mistake, many of us see the purpose of college as both a job-driven and a life-driven purpose. But our dialogue is horribly stuck in the muck of an either/or debate on these two fronts.

I think it is time to end the either/or debate and embrace the reality that college’s purpose is both. College is about both preparing people for a job (and helping them advance their careers and earnings) and to thrive in their overall lives. What if the purpose of college is finding one’s own, individual purpose? And what if achieving this is critically linked to finding purposeful work?

What more do we need to end the debate about the purpose of college as job training vs. life training? If we view it too narrowly as job training, we miss the purposeful elements that bring work to life. And if we view it too broadly as life preparation, we lose focus on the single most important aspect of bringing life to its fullest through work. Work is not just about a paycheck; it’s also about a purpose. Helping future graduates achieve purposeful work may indeed be the purpose of college.”

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