Capitalism devalued the undergraduate degree – The Cowl


by Alyssa Cohen ’21

Opinion staff

Have you ever heard of Providence College students refer to their degree as just a way they hope to make money? Are you one of those students? This idea is a common misconception of what university education should mean to the American people, and may be related to the capitalist state of the United States.

At a recent humanities forum, Duff McDonald discussed his latest post titled The Golden Passport: Harvard Business School, the Limits of Capitalism and the Moral Failure of the Elite MBA. In his discussion, McDonald’s revealed the troubling truth that our society associates failure with a lack of financial success as opposed to a lack of moral prosperity.

Essentially, our capitalist society links success first and foremost to high wages, and failure to earnings; However, McDonald’s presentation emphasized that real failure has nothing to do with money, but rather with morality.

The nature of American capitalism is to blame for this, as it has diminished the value of education by confusing wealth with overall success. The spirit of capitalism runs deep in our American culture, leading us from childhood to believe that hard work pays off. financial prosperity, which promotes both a comfortable (perhaps even luxurious) lifestyle, as well as respect from our peers.

In turn, the value of higher education has become a victim of the association of high wages with status and achievement. Many students see their undergraduate education simply as a means to an end, possibly a well-paying job, rather than an end in itself.

According to CNBC, the American company now qualifying the undergraduate degree as a “new high school diploma,” the predominant perception of the purpose of higher education has degenerated from an opportunity for enlightenment, investigation and personal discovery to simply another degree necessary for the achievement of a lucrative profession.

A study conducted at San Diego State University showed that 71% of millennials ranked ‘being able to make more money’ as the main reason they enrolled in college, before ‘learning. something that interests me ”or“ to prepare me for higher or vocational school.

The results of this study endure among undergraduates, as evidenced by the for-profit motivations that have inspired many Providence College students to enroll in college and earn a degree in their chosen field.

Quess-Symphonee Johnson ’21 said, “I work with incoming freshmen on two different pre-orientation programs and have spoken with a number of students who have admitted one of the two. following things: they are not interested in their declared major, or they already have jobs in their parents’ company, so they are only enrolled in university for the piece of paper which is their diploma.

In a culture that equates making money so closely with success, it’s no wonder that higher education can be seen as expensive, especially since most careers that offer a living wage, let alone well-paid professions require at least an undergraduate degree. Not to mention that the sad reality of soaring schooling rates has only contributed to this devaluation of higher education.

According to CNBC, the average cost of one year at a public university for an in-state student is $ 20,090 and $ 34,220 for foreigners. The cost of private school, including tuition and fees, can be almost twice as high.

In contemporary American society, students entering the workforce must deal with the growing economic burden of college debt before they can begin to amass personal financial gains.

Therefore, the pressure of paying off student loans may deter students from pursuing an undergraduate major they are passionate about if the degree seems unlikely to lead to a well-paying job.

Essentially, the high tuition fees, along with the combination of immense wealth and overall human flourishing, have undermined the importance of education in itself and, in many cases, completely undermined the joy of education. ‘learn from undergraduate experience.

Americans have been instilled with the delusional idea that even if you hate what you do for the job every day, if your job earns you a high salary, you will be both happy and respected in the world.

This sentiment is false for a myriad of reasons, one of which is evident in the decline in student mental health – the very population that pursues education in order to “make more money.”

The American Psychological Association recorded that 41.6 percent of students reported suffering from chronic anxiety, while 36.4 percent of students reported regular feelings of depression.

Logically, one might venture to think that these concerning statistics could be at least marginally reduced if more students found meaning and fulfillment in their education – a goal more important than money.

Despite the myriad ways in which the current American economic structure has devalued higher education, this issue is not irreparable.

We must strive to correct our misplaced values as a company. We must strive to combat attitudes of money worship and rekindle a respect for education to inspire and rejuvenate the love of learning in our American society.

If we can come together to invest in knowledge and education, we will reap the benefits of that investment – a better understanding of ourselves, others and the world around us, and in turn, a happier and happier life. more fulfilling – something that money just can’t buy.

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