Quick Quote: Alex Clifford on Our “College-Centric Culture”

Alex Clifford writes for UnCollege, discussing why so many students are driven to attend college:

It seems as though everyone has a different argument as to why college is a requirement for success. Their reasoning, however, is not as solid as it seems.

Recruiters say they look for a degree, but it’s not actually because a degree signals anything useful. It’s because HR people get swamped with hundreds of resumes a day, and they’re lazy. They want a quick way to reduce their shortlists, and this is an easy process of elimination. Instead of playing a game that doesn’t value actual skill or knowledge, you should find a job by signalling your learning in other ways.

Parents can be a source of pressure behind going to college. It’s likely your parents went to college themselves and feel like it’s a rite of passage. Or maybe they’ve bought the story that “graduates earn more,” even if it’s dodgy logic. Either way, most parents want their kids to be happy and successful. To them, college seems like the right option — even if it’s not.

Teachers went to college. Often they have little experience outside of the world of education. They stayed in the bubble, and might have a distorted view of the real world. They’ll persuade you to go to college because a logical progression through traditional schools is all they know.

Colleges need your money. They have construction projects and research underway. Without your money, they’d go bankrupt. School administrators are interested in expanding their university. Academics are focused on conducting research. As a student, you’re not the main focus. In fact, you’re the cash cow. That’s why college is marketed so aggressively towards you. This 10-minute documentary by PBS lifts the lid on the shadier practices of the college marketing machine.



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