Should Everyone Go To College Owen And Sawhill

Should Everyone Go To College Owen And Sawhill

In today’s society, the question of whether everyone should everyone go to college owen and sawhill. Some argue that a college degree is essential for success, while others believe that individuals can thrive without it.

In this article, we will explore the benefits and drawbacks of attending college, as well as alternative paths that individuals can consider.

Should Everyone Go To College Owen And Sawhill

“Should everyone go to college?” is a topic of considerable debate. Owen and Sawhill, prominent figures in education and economics, have expressed viewpoints regarding the value and necessity of college for everyone. While both recognize the significance of higher education, their perspectives diverge on whether it is essential for all individuals.

Isabel Sawhill, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, advocates for a nuanced approach. She emphasizes the importance of considering alternative paths, acknowledging that not all individuals may benefit equally from a traditional four-year college education. Sawhill suggests that vocational training, apprenticeships, or other skill-building pathways might offer viable alternatives that align better with certain individuals’ goals and capabilities.

Charles Murray, co-author of “Real Education: Four Simple Truths for Bringing America’s Schools Back to Reality,” argues against the notion that everyone should pursue a traditional college education. He advocates for acknowledging the diversity of talents and aptitudes among individuals, suggesting that forcing everyone into college might devalue other essential skills and professions.

In contrast, some argue that college education remains a gateway to better job prospects, higher earning potential, and personal development. William G. Bowen, former president of Princeton University, emphasizes the transformative power of higher education, promoting the idea that college fosters critical thinking, communication skills, and a broader understanding of the world.

The debate surrounding whether everyone should attend college is multifaceted. It revolves around considerations of personal aspirations, economic factors, alternative pathways, and the evolving landscape of education and employment. While college education offers numerous benefits, it’s essential to recognize the value of diverse educational paths and the varied strengths and aspirations of individuals when pondering this question.

Benefits Of College

Higher Earnings

One of the main advantages of attending college is the potential for higher earnings. Studies have shown that individuals with a college degree tend to earn more over their lifetime compared to those with only a high school diploma. A college education can provide individuals with the skills and knowledge necessary to secure higher-paying jobs.

Career Options

Another benefit of going to college is the broad range of career options it opens up. Many professions require a college degree as a minimum qualification. By pursuing higher education, individuals can explore various fields and find their passion. Additionally, college often provides opportunities for internships and networking, which can enhance job prospects.

Personal Growth

College is not just about acquiring knowledge; it is also a transformative experience that fosters personal growth. Living on campus, interacting with diverse peers, and engaging in extracurricular activities can help individuals develop essential life skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, and communication. College provides a platform for self-discovery and personal development.

Drawbacks Of College

Financial Burden

One of the main concerns when considering college is the financial burden it can impose. Tuition fees, accommodation, textbooks, and other expenses can accumulate, resulting in student loans and debt. The cost of college can be a significant barrier for some individuals, especially if they come from low-income backgrounds. It is essential to consider the financial implications before deciding to pursue higher education.

Time Commitment

Attending college requires a significant time commitment. Students often spend several years completing their degree, which means delaying entry into the workforce. For some individuals, this time investment may not align with their career goals or personal circumstances. It is crucial to evaluate whether the time spent in college is worth the potential benefits it offers.

Job Market

While a college degree can improve job prospects, it does not guarantee employment. The job market is competitive, and having a degree may not be sufficient to secure a desired position. Factors such as work experience, skills, and networking also play a crucial role in finding employment. It is essential to recognize that the job market is constantly evolving, and the demand for certain degrees may change over time.

Alternatives To College

Exploring alternatives to a traditional college education opens doors to diverse pathways and opportunities. Let’s look into various alternatives, each offering unique advantages and avenues for personal and professional growth:

1. Vocational Training:

  1. Hands-On Skill Development: Vocational training programs cater to individuals seeking practical, hands-on learning experiences in specific trades or industries. These programs offer certifications and training in fields like healthcare, construction, culinary arts, automotive repair, and more.
  2. Immediate Employment Opportunities: With shorter durations compared to traditional college degrees, vocational training equips individuals with specialized skills sought after by industries, leading to quicker entry into the workforce.
  3. Industry-Relevant Training: Vocational programs focus on real-world skills and often collaborate closely with industry professionals, ensuring graduates are well-prepared for their respective fields.

2. Entrepreneurship:

  1. An Alternative Path to Success: Entrepreneurship presents a unique avenue for individuals with innovative ideas and a drive to create their own ventures. Many successful entrepreneurs have forged their paths without traditional college degrees.
  2. Self-Motivation and Risk-Taking: Pursuing entrepreneurship demands a blend of self-motivation, business acumen, and a willingness to embrace risks and uncertainties inherent in starting a business.
  3. Learning through Experience: While not a conventional educational path, aspiring entrepreneurs learn invaluable lessons through practical experience, networking, and adapting to challenges.

3. Online Education:

  1. Flexible and Accessible Learning: The surge in online education provides a more accessible and flexible learning environment. Online courses and degree programs allow individuals to learn at their pace and convenience, regardless of geographical constraints.
  2. Adaptable Learning Environment: Online education caters to various learning styles, making it an ideal choice for individuals with commitments such as work or family responsibilities that may hinder traditional college attendance.
  3. Affordability and Diverse Course Offerings: Online platforms offer a vast array of courses, often at more affordable rates, enabling individuals to acquire new skills, certifications, or even complete degree programs.


While the decision of whether everyone should go to college is subjective, it is crucial to consider individual circumstances, goals, and preferences. The college offers numerous benefits such as higher earnings, expanded career options, and personal growth. However, it also comes with drawbacks such as financial burdens and time commitments. Alternative paths, such as vocational training, entrepreneurship, and online education, can provide viable options for those who choose not to pursue a traditional college education. Ultimately, individuals should carefully evaluate their options and make an informed decision based on their unique circumstances.


1. Is A College Degree Necessary For Success?

No, a college degreeis not necessary for success. While a college education can provide valuable skills and opportunities, there are many successful individuals who have achieved their goals without a degree. Success can be defined in various ways, and it ultimately depends on an individual’s goals, abilities, and circumstances.

2. What Are The Financial Implications Of Attending College?

Attending college can be expensive, and it’s important to consider the financial implications. Tuition fees, accommodation, textbooks, and other expenses can add up, resulting in student loans and debt. It’s essential to create a budget, explore scholarship and financial aid options, and weigh the potential return on investment in terms of future earnings.

3. Are There Alternative Paths To A Successful Career Besides College?

Absolutely! College is not the only path to a successful career. Vocational training, entrepreneurship, and online education are viable alternatives that can lead to fulfilling and rewarding careers. It’s important to explore different options, assess personal interests and strengths, and consider the specific requirements of the desired career path.

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