Economic Benefits Overstressed Rationale For College Completion
INCREASING COLLEGE COMPLETION RATES: IT’S ABOUT MORE THAN ECONOMIC BENEFITS
Peter Ewell blogs for AAC&U’s Liberal Education Nation: Increasing the proportion of young citizens with a college credential has become a major national goal, and the need to do so is prominent in today’s political rhetoric. The case for doing so is almost always economic—higher personal incomes, increased tax revenues, and greater worker productivity. The resulting “commodification of college” rankles many of us because, raised as scholars, we tend to see higher learning as more broadly beneficial. More importantly, the narrowly economic argument about rates of return leads many observers to misleadingly label college majors such as English or anthropology as “dead ends” and advise students to avoid them. Even if one sticks with a purely economic argument, statements like this about the “worth” of traditional liberal arts and sciences majors are overblown at best. But there also are other concrete benefits of completing a college degree that go far beyond these strictly economic benefits.