Posts published on July 25, 2019

Understanding Some Ethical Considerations Surrounding College Years


We live in a world full of ethical debates. Many of these debates revolve around the most controversial topics: science, religion, politics, and the like. However, some of the most interesting and engaging ethical debates also surround the topic of college years.

And for good reason. What could be more important than the education of our young people? In this article, we’re going to dive into some of these ethical debates and explore them in detail. Let’s jump into it!

The Importance Of College Life

All over the world, the years that people spend in college can be some of the most awe-inspiring and exhilarating years in a person’s life. This is no less true in the United States of America. The students that make up the collective body of colleges throughout the country are the lifeblood that keeps this momentous industry thriving.

Even so, these are individuals who are (more often than not) still quite young, and thus coming into their own and having to learn along the way.

Without a doubt, ethics are thrown into chaos during these academically-focussed years, and while most students find their way out of the fray with relative ease, there are some instances where it is a lengthier and more intense learning curve to master.

Many individuals are young when they first consider and then attend college, and there is currently an ongoing issue with ethical considerations for students not only in college but in the admissions process leading up to offerings for the calendar year.

3 Main Ethical Considerations Related to College

Here are three main ethical considerations surrounding college that warrant discussion. These are:


  1. What constitutes a fair admission process?
  2. Is it ethically and morally correct to charge money for education?
  3. Are the academic demands of college too high?

Let’s explore each of these in turn


The Admissions Process – Are Favors OK?

In the case of ethics for college hopefuls, one of the most consistently prominent issues that arises relates to the college admissions process specifically. This is, of course, the issue of if it is both ethically and morally sound to offer favors (whether financial, material, sustainable, or sentimental) during the admissions process.

The core of this issue, of course, lies in the fact that engaging in such activities can and does often lead to an unfair admissions procession that favors students who can offer such advantages and benefits, over other equally deserving students.

The key question regarding this ethical debate is this: shouldn’t college admissions be based purely on academic ability?

This has been a problem for quite some time, and it is surprising to realize that even now, in 2019, it is a problem that continues to this day. While it is certainly true that some students who offer these favors at this specific time may not have an alternative agenda in mind, it cannot be denied that the ethical consideration students should take, is to simply avoid offering these goods and services during such an important time.

All over the world (and especially in countries like the USA, the UK, and even Australia), college hopefuls and college students  are consistently working on discovering ethical alternatives when they are faced with certain issues of academic value.

The college admissions processes and the surrounding favoritism that tends to go hand in hand with students and their families presenting schools with marks of favor (like financial inducements, or legacy admissions, to name a few examples) is by far one of the most shocking and undesirable traits of the college systems around the world.

Many academic institutions justify this behavior by seeing them  as a mark of showing their commitment to the school in question, and not necessarily an inclination towards questionable inducements.

Admission Fees – Should Education Be Free?

Another ethical consideration related to college relates to admission fees. In many countries around the world, higher education is free and is seen as a citizen’s right. In America, this isn’t the case. A summary of higher education costs for some programs can be found in the nurse practitioner program guide.

In order to get into good schools, students have to pay high admission fees that are often not affordable to low-income families. This throws up some important ethical concerns. For example, it could be seen as preventing class mobility and limiting children born into low-income households from accessing the education they need to access high-income work.

On the other side of the coin, it could be argued that if education were free, it would encourage students who aren’t committed to their own education to sign up to university anyway, and cost the taxpayer a lot of money.

In the UK, the government has tried to balance this through a student loans system, whereby students are granted governmental loans to pay for their admission fees and living costs but are expected to pay this back once their income reaches a certain threshold.

This too raises concerns: is it ethically correct to force students to get into debt and charge them interest on their education?

Academic pressure – is college life too hard?

A final consideration worth mentioning surrounds college life itself. Students are faced with a lot of challenges during college, from finding the best tutors and high speed internet, to fighting concerns over mental health.

They have to balance intense study and grueling exams with their own personal life. Many have to take on jobs in order to pay for their living costs and balance this with school, which often leads students to become burnt out.

All of these difficult and complex ethical considerations warrant discussion, but we may never be able to resolve the debates completely.

Annabel Monaghan is a writer with a passion for education and edtech. She writes education and career articles for The College Puzzle with the aim of providing useful information for students and young professionals. If you have any questions, please feel free to email her at